Chirac: Turks Must Shift

Culturally to Enter E.U.

BRUSSELS -- French President Jacques Chirac said Tuesday that Turkey would need to undergo a "major cultural revolution" before entering the European Union, and he reiterated that France would hold a referendum on admitting the country to the bloc.

The comments underlined the tough road ahead for Turkey. It took two days of arduous last-minute talks between foreign ministers of the 25-nation E.U. to overcome Austrian objections to starting the negotiations.

The entry talks are projected to last for at least 10 years, and Turkey has no guarantee it will be offered membership at the end. There is broad opposition among Europeans to admitting the poor, predominantly Muslim nation of 70 million people.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said negotiations would mean a "very big change" for both Europe and Turkey. "It will be an issue of controversy for years to come," he told reporters in London.

The middle east

* BEIRUT -- Lebanon's government appointed a new security chief, replacing a powerful general implicated in the Feb. 14 assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri.

The appointment followed months of political wrangling among factions in the half-Christian, half-Muslim cabinet. The government has been trying to oust pro-Syrian officials, whom they blame for increasing lawlessness in the capital.

On Tuesday, the cabinet appointed army Brig. Gen. Wafiq Jizzini to head the Interior Ministry's General Security Department. He replaced Maj. Gen. Jamil Sayyed, a general and strong ally of Syria, who was arrested in August after being implicated with three other top generals in the killing of Hariri.


* PARIS -- A one-day strike disrupted public transportation in France. It came as a protest against high unemployment and low purchasing power brought pressure on the government of Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin.

Commuters faced delays at railway stations and cancellations at airports, but many trains, buses and subway services continued to run. Predictions that the strike, called by France's main labor unions, would cause general paralysis appeared ill-founded. Some Parisians, used to such labor unrest, simply stayed home.

* BANJA LUKA, Bosnia -- A Bosnian Serb commission said it had identified more than 17,000 people who participated directly and indirectly in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, the worst slaughter of civilians in Europe since World War II.

The Special Bosnian Serb Government Working Group said the names would not be released publicly but would be turned over to the state prosecutor's office for review and possible charges.

The commission said it submitted the report to the office of Bosnia's top international official, Paddy Ashdown, who requested it as part of efforts to bring to justice those responsible for the massacre of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the Srebrenica area.

Meanwhile, forensic experts said they had recovered the remains of 213 victims of the killings from a mass grave in the northeastern Bosnia village of Liplje. The victims were originally buried elsewhere but later dug up by bulldozer and moved to Liplje to cover up the massacre, according to the experts.

* BELFAST -- One of Northern Ireland's most well-known Protestant paramilitary figures was shot dead outside his home, more than six months after he was ousted by his outlawed group.

Two gunmen fired several shots at Jim Gray after he answered his door in Protestant east Belfast, his longtime power base, police said. Detectives covered his body with a white sheet as they searched outside his home for evidence.

No group asserted responsibility for his assassination, but a previous assassination attempt in 2002 came during a feud among Protestant militants involved in Belfast's thriving drug trade.


* BEIJING -- Raging floodwaters triggered by a typhoon along China's coast swept away 59 soldiers and washed away two buildings at a military training school, state media reported.

At least 15 people were killed after the typhoon slammed into China's southeast coast late Sunday night, the provincial emergency operations said. At its height, the storm had winds of 74 mph, but it was downgraded Monday afternoon to a tropical storm.

The typhoon also killed at least one person on Taiwan.

The 59 soldiers, members of the China's paramilitary armed police in charge of domestic security, were in a training school barracks in Fujian province when the violent floods hit Monday night, state media said. Two buildings at the school were washed away, the reports said.

the americas

* MANAGUA, Nicaragua -- The United States, bringing pressure on Sandinista and other opposition leaders that it accuses of undermining Nicaraguan democracy, revoked visas held by some politicians and their families and threatened to withhold millions of dollars in aid.

U.S. officials took the step as a crisis threatens President Enrique Bolanos, a U.S. ally under pressure from dissidents in his own party and Sandinistas to accept constitutional reforms weakening his power.

Nicaragua's "promising future is threatened by a creeping coup. It's threatened by corruption. . . . This is the way of the corrupt pact," Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick told reporters, referring to the alliance between Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega and former right-wing president Arnoldo Aleman.

The United States canceled visas for two of Aleman's adult children and the country's attorney general and said the visas of others will be revoked as well.

Zoellick said Nicaragua was poised to benefit from $4 billion in debt forgiveness, $175 million promised from the U.S. Millennium Challenge Account and trade benefits promised under the new Central American Trade Agreement, which Nicaragua has yet to approve. But all this could be lost if anti-democratic forces in Nicaragua prevail, he said.

-- From News Services