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Presidential hopefuls hold last debate

By TIMES WIRES
Published May 3, 2007


PARIS

Presidential candidates Segolene Royal and Nicolas Sarkozy clashed Wednesday night in a televised debate seen as the last big round of the campaign, dueling vigorously about crime, the economy and the future of France. The estimated 20-million viewers reflected widespread interest in the runoff election Sunday. It was the first presidential debate featuring a female contender and the first in more than 25 years in which incumbent President Jacques Chirac did not participate.

WASHINGTON

Islamic extremists rely on Internet

Extremist Islamic groups have come to value the Internet so much for its ability to spread their message that some have said the keyboard is as important as a Kalashnikov rifle, a report for Congress says. The report, to be presented to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee today, says terrorists have increased their use of the Internet to make their activities faster, cheaper and more secure. Use of the Internet for communications, propaganda and research has grown to include recruitment and training, says the report prepared by a panel of experts brought together by George Washington University's Homeland Security Policy Institute and the University of Virginia's Critical Incident Analysis Group.

VIENNA

Iran objects to nuclear pact

Iran's objections to language calling for total compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty on Wednesday led organizers at a meeting reviewing the pact to postpone the next session to give time to search for a compromise. That position has delayed adoption of the agenda since the conference, meant to work on tightening up the treaty, opened Monday.

Tehran, Iran: Authorities have arrested the country's former nuclear negotiator, an ally of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's predecessor and key rival, and he reportedly could face an espionage charge. The Iranian state-run news agency said Hossein Mousavian was arrested Monday, and Iran did not officially release any details about charges.

Elsewhere

Mexico City: Five soldiers and a suspected drug cartel enforcer were killed in a shootout in the western Mexican state of Michoacan, which has been plagued by drug violence and is the target of a military-led antidrug offensive.

Gaza City, Gaza Strip: The Palestinian government knows where to find a British journalist kidnapped nearly two months ago but has held back on raiding the hideout at Britain's request, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Wednesday.

Istanbul, Turkey: Turkish lawmakers on Wednesday set national elections for July 22, four months earlier than planned, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party submitted a package of bills that would bring it advantages in the coming political battle.