World briefs 11/25/03

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

U.S., Europe agree on draft Iran resolutionVIENNA, Austria -- The United States and key European countries agreed Monday on a compromise draft resolution on Iran's nuclear activity. The resolution -- to be voted on Wednesday by the International Atomic Energy Agency -- encourages Iran to continue its stated commitment to open its nuclear programs to stringent IAEA scrutiny, which France, Germany and Britain insisted upon, while setting a "trigger mechanism" for Security Council action if Iran does not comply with IAEA requests, which the United States demanded.

Blair, Chirac endorse rapid-reaction force

LONDON -- Following a daylong bridge-building summit, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac said the European Union should be capable of dispatching a 1,500-strong force within 15 days to respond to a crisis. They reassured Washington that their efforts to bolster Europe's military muscle would not undermine NATO but rather complement its peacekeeping efforts.

Rebels free Europeans kidnapped two months ago

VALLEDUPAR, Colombia -- Reinhilt Weigel, of Germany, and Asier Huegen Echeverria, of Spain, were freed Monday by the National Liberation Army, or ELN, a group of Colombian rebels. They spent 74 days in captivity before being flown by helicopter from the Sierra Nevada mountains, where they were held, to the town of Valledupar. A Catholic church official said he believed five other kidnapped backpackers taken hostage with them could be released before Christmas.

Interim Georgian leader pledges quick elections

TBILISI, Georgia -- In her first speech to the nation, Georgia's interim leader, Nino Burdzhanadze, pledged Monday to hold elections within 45 days, restored the old parliament and said she would repeal the state of emergency declared by longtime President Eduard Shevardnadze before he was swept from power. Shevardnadze resigned Sunday after a decade of mounting discontent and three weeks of protests over Nov. 2 parliamentary elections his critics said exemplified the corruption that has plagued the country during his reign.

Sharon: If attacks stop, Palestinians get state

JERUSALEM -- The Palestinians are assured of a state if they halt attacks on Israelis and dismantle armed groups, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Monday. But he also tried to ease fears among his right-wing backers that he will dismantle settlements as a concession to peace. Sharon also said that he would not agree to preconditions to meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, who wants guarantees a summit will yield results before agreeing to a date.

-- From wire reports

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