Britain's Blair likely to call elections despite...

FOREIGN DIGEST

March 23, 2001

Britain's Blair likely to call elections despite epidemic

LONDON - British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labor government gave its strongest signal yet yesterday that it will call a general election for May 3 despite a foot-and-mouth disease epidemic ravaging the countryside.

With speculation rife that the first Thursday in May is the date Blair favors to make his bid for a second term, a senior Cabinet minister added fuel to the fire by confirming that no plans had been made to delay local elections that day.

Since the date for local elections is set by law, emergency legislation would have to be passed by Parliament to postpone them. The official start of the local election campaign is Monday.

One in nine S. Africans infected with HIV

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa has more people living with HIV-AIDS than any other country, the United Nations said yesterday.

The bleak assessment came after Pretoria released data earlier this week showing that 4.7 million South Africans, or one in nine, were living with the deadly disease. "South Africa has the highest number of people living with AIDS. Eventually China and India will surpass South Africa," said Richard Delate, spokesman for UNAIDS.

11 ancient mummies discovered in Egypt

CAIRO, Egypt - Archaeologists have found 11 mummies in Egypt's Western Desert, including one of a child entombed with his parents and wearing a mask that shows him in tears.

The mummies are about 1,800 years old, Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities said in a statement. They belong to one family, are in good condition and were found near Bahariya Oasis, 215 miles southwest of Cairo.

"The most beautiful one is that of a 3-year-old child lying next to the mummies of his father and mother," the head of the council, Gabballah Ali Gabballah, said.

French war criminal, 90, moved to hospital

PARIS - Convicted French war criminal Maurice Papon, 90, was hospitalized yesterday for heart problems that his lawyer said were complicated by "the inhuman and degrading character of his detention."

Lawyer Francis Vuillemin said that Papon, who is serving a 10-year jail sentence for his role in deporting Jews to Nazi death camps during World War II, would stay in the hospital indefinitely.

Russia will attempt to raise sunken sub

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Russian President Vladimir V. Putin will announce plans to raise the nuclear submarine Kursk from the bottom of the Barents Sea when he meets European Union leaders this weekend, the head of a group dedicated to the project said yesterday.

The Kursk sank last August, killing all 118 men on board. The 492-foot vessel is 330 feet below the surface. Russia plans to raise the submarine at the end of August or in September before fall weather makes the operation impossible.

Mexico's Fox plans state visit to Canada

OTTAWA - Mexican President Vicente Fox will pay a state visit to Ottawa next month, the first by a Mexican leader in five years, ahead of the Summit of the Americas to be held in Quebec City, a Mexican embassy spokesman said yesterday.

Fox had visited Ottawa in August, when he met Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien for the first time, but he was Mexico's president-elect then.

Annan to seek re-election as U.N. secretary-general

UNITED NATIONS - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced yesterday that he would seek a second five-year term as the world's top diplomat, but said it was not an easy decision to make.

Annan, a Ghanaian who turns 63 next month, will complete his first five-year term Dec. 31. He said he had questioned whether he could summon the energy for another five years and whether he wanted to inflict his grueling schedule on his family.

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