World briefs 6/7/04

Monday, June 7, 2004

Defiant French mayor marries gay couple

BEGLES, France -- A gay couple said "oui" for the first time in France, days after the prime minister warned that the homosexual union would be legally "null and void." Stephane Chapin, dressed in a white suit and dabbing tears of joy from his eyes, and Bertrand Charpentier, in deep gray pinstripes, embraced, kissed and smiled broadly Saturday after the brief civil ceremony in the Begles town hall in southwestern France, near Bordeaux.

Commander pulls out of key Congo town

BUKAVU, Congo -- A renegade commander pulled his remaining troops out of this strategic city in eastern Congo on Sunday, four days after he set off a crisis in the volatile region by seizing Bukavu. But violence continued as assailants ambushed a U.N. convoy in an unrelated incident in North Kivu province, killing two South African peacekeepers and wounding nine others, a U.N. official said.

Relief workers released in Sudan's Darfur region

KHARTOUM, Sudan -- A rebel group in western Sudan's embattled Darfur region on Sunday released 16 international aid workers, U.N. officials said. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the 16 were released Sunday morning and appeared to be in good health. A statement said they were detained Thursday preparing for relief deliveries.

Bahrain's king asked to attend G-8 summit

MANAMA, Bahrain -- Bahrain may be small but its aspirations are big, and this week it gets a world spotlight -- the Group of Eight summit -- to showcase its democratic reforms. The country's king will be at the summit of the world's major industrial nations opening Tuesday in Georgia, along with the new president of Iraq and the leaders of Algeria, Jordan and Yemen. They were all invited by President Bush as part of his effort to promote democracy, human rights and economic liberalization in the region.

-- From wire reports

Pope appears to thrive on Swiss enthusiasm

BERN, Switzerland -- A stronger-looking Pope John Paul II, appearing to thrive on the enthusiasm of young Swiss Roman Catholics, joined 70,000 people Sunday in celebrating his first open-air Mass abroad in nine months. The largely youthful crowd erupted in cheers as the 84-year-old pontiff arrived and waved his right hand to the crowd as he was rolled across the large stage.

Barghouti sentenced to five life terms by Israel

TEL AVIV, Israel -- An Israeli court on Sunday sent popular Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti to prison for life for his role in deadly attacks on Israelis, sidelining a possible successor to Yasser Arafat. Barghouti was given five consecutive life terms and 40 years -- the maximum sentence -- after he was convicted last month of involvement in shootings that killed four Israelis and a Greek monk. The ruling said Barghouti was "involved up to his neck in terror activity."

-- From wire reports

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