Foreign Digest


May 28, 2004

Cuba, Mexico plan ambassadors' return after settling dispute

GUADALAJARA, Mexico - Cuba's foreign minister said both his nation and Mexico agreed yesterday to return their respective ambassadors, moving to ease the latest diplomatic dispute between the traditional allies.

At a news conference on the sidelines of an international summit here, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said that he had met with Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez and that they had decided to restore the ambassadors to their posts. He did not give an exact date.

Mexico was angered by Cuban allegations that a Mexican official arrested in Havana on fraud charges was part of a larger political conspiracy. The Mexican government charged that Cuba was meddling in its affairs and withdrew its ambassador from Havana in early May. Cuba responded by doing the same with its ambassador in Mexico City.

Nigerian state lifts ban on polio vaccinations

KANO, Nigeria - A predominantly Muslim northern state in Nigeria has abandoned its moratorium on polio vaccinations, declaring that samples of newly imported vaccines were safe, a state spokesman said yesterday.

The decision by the state of Kano would open the way for a major nationwide immunization effort, said federal Health Minister Eyitayo Lambo. U.N. officials say the eight-month suspension of polio vaccines in Kano state allowed the disease to spread widely across Africa.

Since September, state officials had suspended participation in a global immunization program after Kano officials said local scientists discovered traces of a hormone in foreign-made vaccines that they feared could make girls infertile. U.N. officials rejected the charge and said the vaccines were safe.

Russian craft brings supplies to space station

MOSCOW - A Russian cargo craft successfully docked with the International Space Station yesterday, carrying food, mail and a new spacesuit for the Russian-American crew.

The Progress M-49 craft had lifted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan atop a Soyuz-U rocket on Tuesday. It was carrying about 2.5 tons of cargo, including water, air, scientific equipment and clothing for the two crewmen.

The ship also carried a Russian Orlan-M spacesuit - NASA had deemed U.S. suits unusable - for cosmonaut Gennady Padalka and astronaut Mike Fincke, who face a critical spacewalk scheduled for mid-June. The spacewalk involves replacing a power control and circuit breaker box that last month shut down one of the gyroscopes that stabilize the space station.

Padalka and Fincke arrived April 21 for a six-month stint at the station, whose assembly has been on hold since the U.S. space shuttle Columbia disaster in February 2003.

Lebanon soldiers kill 5 at government protest

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Demonstrators set fire to the Labor Ministry yesterday after Lebanese soldiers shot and killed five people and wounded 12 others during protests against the government's economic policies, security and hospital officials said.

A civil defense firefighter died in the hospital after being hit by gunfire in what was Lebanon's worst violence involving civilians in a decade. The firefighter was trying to douse tires set ablaze by demonstrators, officials said. The Lebanese army said 20 soldiers were wounded in the clashes with stone-throwing protesters.

The violence followed a strike call by the General Confederation of Labor and Trade Unions protesting the government's economic policies and demanding a reduction in gasoline prices.

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