Premiers Offer N. Ireland Plan
BELFAST -- The prime ministers of Britain and Ireland gave Northern Ireland's rival politicians a plan to revive the Catholic-Protestant administration established under the province's 1998 Good Friday agreement.
Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern presented a 28-page document to each party's top politicians in negotiations that stretched past nightfall at Hillsborough Castle outside Belfast.
Their two key goals were to persuade commanders of the Irish Republican Army to surrender the bulk of their stockpiled weapons, a process begun in October 2001 but halted last April, and to persuade Protestants from the Ulster Unionist Party to resume power-sharing with Catholics from the IRA-linked Sinn Fein party.
Their uncomfortable partnership, central to the 1998 peace accord, fell apart last October after police reported evidence of an IRA spy ring within the coalition.
Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble said his Protestant followers would not cooperate with Sinn Fein unless Britain provided new powers that could be used to expel Sinn Fein from the administration if the IRA violated its 1997 cease-fire.
Guerrilla Suspects Go on Trial
ATHENS -- Sitting behind bulletproof glass, 19 alleged members of Greece's deadliest terrorist group went on trial for acts of violence that began in the 1970s as an attempt to foment Marxist revolution and in recent years were aimed against globalization.
The trial could last months, but the accused members of the group known as November 17 won a quick victory: removal of their security enclosure. The three-judge panel ordered the bulletproof barriers dismantled.
The trial was a major step by Greek authorities to redeem a reputation tarnished by their failure to stop November 17. The group, which had eluded police since its first attack in 1975, is suspected in more than 100 bombings and armed robberies, and the killing of 23 people, including U.S., British and Turkish envoys.
THE MIDDLE EAST
Setback for Iran's Reformists
TEHRAN -- Iran's reformists suffered their worst electoral defeat in six years in balloting for local council seats, but said the low turnout was a warning to the entire Islamic system. Only 49 percent of eligible voters cast ballots nationwide; the figure was 12 percent in the capital, Tehran.
Newspapers that reflect the views of Iran's religious establishment hailed the election results. "The people's disaffection with [reformists] left no doubt that these Western-influenced groups, which are indifferent to the people's demands, have neared the sunset of their lives," Kayhan newspaper said in an editorial.
Political analysts said the reformists had themselves partly to blame. Tehran's city council collapsed after bitter infighting among reformists in December, and candidates from Iran's 18 reformist parties presented three rival lists in Friday's vote instead of a unified list, which triumphed in 1999.
China May Pursue Moon Shot
BEIJING -- China is developing an unmanned space probe to fly to the moon and a mission could be ready within three years, the project's chief scientist, Ouyang Ziyuan, was quoted as saying. However, Beijing has yet to approve the mission, the state-controlled newspaper China Daily quoted the scientist as saying.
China has successfully launched and recovered four unmanned spacecraft, most recently in early January. The next mission, that of the manned spaceship Shenzhou V, will be launched later this year, officials have said.
64 Killed in Nigerian Clashes
LAGOS, Nigeria -- At least 64 people, including a soldier and seven policemen, were shot or hacked to death in clashes between villagers in northeastern Nigeria, police and Red Cross officials said.
The officials said nomadic herdsmen and farmers clashed several times in northeastern Gombe state and in neighboring Adamawa state. Police said they were investigating reports by villagers that armed Chadians triggered a bloodbath in Adamawa with an invasion of one of the most remote corners of Nigeria.
FOR THE RECORD
A large dugout canoe capsized on the Niger River in Nigeria, drowning at least 30 passengers, officials said. . . . The rebel Lord's Resistance Army declared an immediate cease-fire in northern Uganda following a 17-year conflict, a peace mediator said. . . . A mob set fire to three cars and ransacked an office of international monitors overseeing a peace deal between the government and separatist rebels in Aceh province in Indonesia, officials said. . . . The new prime minister of Ivory Coast, Seydou Diarra, met with rebel chiefs in their stronghold to discuss the stalled formation of a government meant to end the civil war.