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World in brief

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 14, 2002

Court tells Chavez to vacate stations

CARACAS, Venezuela -- A high court in Venezuela ordered the government of Hugo Chavez on Friday to turn police stations, guns, radios and motorcycles over to Caracas' opposition mayor, a major victory for anti-Chavez forces on the 12th day of a devastating strike.

But Caracas Mayor Alfredo Pena said the soldiers who took over the Metropolitan Police force weren't respecting the order, and in fact responded to the decision by confiscating pistols and motorcycles from the officers.

The strike, in which the opposition is demanding Chavez resign or call early elections, sent Venezuela into political crisis, crippled its giant oil industry and fueled street demonstrations.

Pena went to Venezuela's highest administrative court to appeal the takeover, and Friday the court ruled that he has control over police installations until a final ruling. But Pena said the government wasn't obeying the order.

The Bush administration Friday called on Chavez to hold early elections to resolve a yearlong political standoff and end the strike.

"The United States is convinced that the only peaceful and politically viable path out of the crisis is through the holding of early elections," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

Crash victims named

Authorities on Friday released the names of five U.S. soldiers killed when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed during training exercises in central Honduras.

The U.S. Southern Command in Miami said those killed were Spc. Bryan P. Abercrombie, 22, of Utah; Spc. Luke A. DeGroff, 22, of Panama City, Fla.; Chief Warrant Officer Jonathan C. Helman, 30, of McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania; Chief Warrant Officer Maurice A. Lammie, 34, of New Jersey; and Sgt. 1st Class Anthony L. Sieng, 38, of Maryland.

EU rebuffs Turkey, invites 10 others in

COPENHAGEN, Denmark -- The European Union redrew its map Friday, pushing its border east and south to add 10 countries, most of them poor, former Communist countries.

The expansion will create a nearly united Europe of 450-million people in 25 countries and an economy of more than $9-trillion.

Friday night's celebratory mood was dampened by lingering anger among Europeans at what was seen as heavy-handed lobbying by the White House on behalf an applicant not among the invited 10, Turkey.

In response to Turkey's demand to start membership talks next year, the summit leaders resolved that they will look again in December 2004 at Turkey's record on human rights, democracy and treatment of its Kurdish minority, and will start talks "without further delay" if European Union standards are met.

The phrase "without further delay" was added Friday night to assuage hurt feelings in Turkey.

Same-sex couples given rights in Argentina

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- A law enacted Friday extends certain civil rights to same-sex couples in Buenos Aires, the first Latin American city to adopt such a measure. Same-sex couples will receive health insurance and pension rights given to married spouses. The law recognizes the civil union of same-sex couples but does not term the union a marriage.

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