European Union, Turkey talk full membership

By wire services
Published October 4, 2005

LUXEMBOURG - The European Union opened membership talks with Turkey early today - a historic first step that would transform the bloc by taking in a predominantly Muslim nation and expanding its borders to Asia and the Middle East.

The start of negotiations that could last a decade followed weekend crisis talks meant to persuade Austria to drop its last-minute objections to Ankara's bid for full membership. The 25-nation bloc also opened membership talks with Croatia today - a key Austrian demand.

In other business Monday, the EU imposed an arms embargo on Uzbekistan, cut aid and suspended a cooperation accord to punish it for refusing to investigate the violent suppression of an uprising in May.

Mexico prepares for storm to hit as hurricane

VERACRUZ, Mexico - Mexico's state oil monopoly said Monday it evacuated 270 workers from five platforms in the Gulf of Mexico as Tropical Storm Stan swirled toward Veracruz state's coastline.

It was unclear how the evacuations would affect Petroleos Mexicanos, the world's third-biggest oil producer and a major supplier to the United States.

On land, Mexico issued a hurricane warning for much of the Gulf Coast, from Cabo Rojo southward to Punta el Lagarto.

At 8 p.m. Monday, the storm was centered near latitude 20.1 N and longitude 93.1 W, or about 210 miles east-northeast of Veracruz. It was moving west at about 7 mph, with maximum sustained winds near 60 mph.

It was expected to become a hurricane late Monday or early today, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, with landfall expected for either late today or early Wednesday.

In the Pacific, Tropical Storm Otis weakened to a depression.