Turkey's Entry to E.U. Still Stymied by Austria

LUXEMBOURG -- Foreign ministers of the European Union failed to persuade Austria to drop its objections to Turkey's bid to join the organization, and crisis talks that went into the early morning hours Monday were set to resume later in the morning, diplomats said.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country, said he hoped Europe would "show political maturity and become a global power." If not, he said, the bloc would "end up a Christian club."

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* BERLIN -- The former East German secret service considered Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, one of the most dangerous critics of communism and spied on him starting in 1974, a German weekly reported Sunday.

The Bild am Sonntag released excerpts of vast files showing that the secret police, or Stasi, watched Ratzinger closely for years.

Ratzinger's friendship with the Polish-born Pope John Paul II -- whom Poles today largely credit with inspiring them to challenge communism -- was viewed by the Stasi as particularly dangerous.

* MINSK, Belarus -- The fragmented political opposition in Belarus chose a U.S.-educated former physicist to challenge President Alexander Lukashenko in next year's presidential election.

Inspired by the ouster of unpopular governments in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, about 800 representatives of Belarus's opposition parties and movements named Alexander Milinkevich as their candidate at a congress in the capital, Minsk.

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* KABUL, Afghanistan -- Ballot boxes from hundreds of polling stations in Afghanistan's landmark parliamentary elections have been quarantined because of suspected voting fraud, but the overall credibility of the results was not in doubt, according to Peter Erben, the chief electoral officer.

Erben said the joint U.N.-Afghan election body would announce later this week whether the ballot boxes would be excluded from the vote count. In all, about 4 percent of ballot boxes have been quarantined.

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* ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- Ethiopia's main opposition parties called off plans for a three-day strike to protest the results of May's parliamentary election after Prime Minister Meles Zenawi agreed to meet with them.

Meles had said earlier that the rally "was to incite violence and topple the government," echoing his earlier justification for cracking down on protests in July, when police shot and killed 36 people. The opposition said authorities arrested 859 of its members last week.

Ethiopia's information minister, Bereket Simon, said both sides had agreed to take "appropriate measures that contribute to ending tension."

-- From News Services