World briefs 1/28/04

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Blair narrowly wins key vote to end Labour revolt

LONDON -- Prime Minister Tony Blair narrowly defeated a major rebellion within his governing Labour Party on Tuesday, winning a key vote to raise university fees that severely tested his authority. Lawmakers voted 316-311 in favor of the legislation, offering Blair a welcome boost before Wednesday's publication of a report on the death of a weapons adviser, which added to a furor over the government's case for the Iraq war. Blair sat on the government front bench in the House of Commons as the result of the vote was announced to loud cheers from Labour lawmakers. Ministers had embarked on an intense last-minute campaign to win support for the bill, which is the centerpiece of Blair's legislative program.

Suicide bomber attacks Afghan capital; 2 dead

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A suicide bomber killed a Canadian soldier and an Afghan civilian Tuesday in an attack on a convoy of the NATO-led security force patrolling Kabul. The Taliban claimed responsibility. The soldier was the first foreign victim of a fresh wave of violence that has claimed more than 60 lives this month. The attack came a day after Afghanistan's president signed the country's first post-Taliban constitution into law. Three other Canadian soldiers and eight civilians, including a Frenchman, were wounded in the attack on a three-jeep convoy on a main road in the west of the city. The attacker blew himself up as a jeep slowed down to negotiate a rut in the road, peppering the soldiers and bystanders with shrapnel.

China's leader snubbed at French address

PARIS -- China's president addressed France's parliament Tuesday in a rare honor to a foreign leader but was snubbed by many lawmakers because of Beijing's human rights record. Earlier, Hu Jintao and President Jacques Chirac warned Taiwan against holding a referendum, with the French leader saying any measure that breeds tension between the two Asian rivals is dangerous. Chirac also spoke out strongly in favor of lifting a European embargo on arms sales to China -- imposed after Beijing's crackdown on democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

-- From wire reports

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