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U.N. okays tribunal on assassination

By TIMES WIRES
Published May 31, 2007


BEIRUT, LEBANON

The U.N. Security Council voted Wednesday to unilaterally establish an international tribunal to prosecute suspects in the killing of Lebanon's former prime minister.

A suicide truck bomb in Beirut killed Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others in February 2005. The first U.N. chief investigator said the complexity of the assassination suggested Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services played a role. Syria denied involvement but was forced to withdraw its troops from Lebanon, ending its 29-year domination of its smaller neighbor.

Four Lebanese generals, top pro-Syrian security chiefs, have been under arrest for 20 months.

The issue of the tribunal is at the core of a deep political crisis between the Western-backed government and the Syrian-backed opposition led by Hezbollah. The tensions have taken on an increasingly sectarian tone and have erupted into street battles in recent months, killing 11 people.

The resolution gives the Lebanese Parliament a last chance to establish the tribunal itself by June 10.

MEXICO CITY

Second tropical storm forms in the Pacific

Tropical Storm Barbara formed Wednesday off the southwestern coast of Mexico and could strengthen to a hurricane within days, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Barbara follows Alvin, the first tropical storm of the eastern Pacific's 2007 season. It formed Monday but was downgraded to a tropical depression as it headed away from land. Two eastern Pacific storms in May is unprecedented.

As of 11 p.m. EDT, Barbara was near latitude 13.0 N and longitude 96.9 W and was moving roughly south at about 5 mph with sustained winds of 54 mph.

POTSDAM, GERMANY

Russia and U.S. clash during G-8 meeting

The United States and Russia, with relations between them at their most contentious since the collapse of the Soviet Union, openly sparred Wednesday at a meeting of the Group of Eight industrialized nations.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the United States of starting a new arms race and harshly criticized Washington's plan to build a missile shield in Europe. He also implicitly threatened to veto any U.N. Security Council resolution that would recognize the independence of Kosovo from Serbia, which is supported by the United States.

President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet July 1 and 2 in Kennebunkport, Maine, the White House said Wednesday.

Elsewhere

ISRAELI PRESIDENTIAL RACE: Elder statesman Shimon Peres, 83, on Wednesday declared his candidacy for the ceremonial post of Israeli president, to be chosen June 13.

KYRGYZ PRIME MINISTER POISONED: The presidential medical department confirmed Tuesday that Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev was poisoned but did not say if it was deliberate.

OBESITY PLAGUES EU: More than half of adults in European Union nations are obese or overweight, and the young are increasingly making Europe a fat continent, the EU's top public health official said Wednesday.

U.S. HOSTAGES FREED IN NIGERIA: Four unidentified American oil workers abducted three weeks ago in Nigeria's restive oil region were released Wednesday.

VAST COCAINE LAB FOUND: Police raided a cocaine laboratory this week in the Bolivian jungle capable of producing 245 pounds of the drug daily, one of the largest drug labs ever discovered in the Andean country.

BHUTANESE PROTEST: About 10, 000 Bhutanese refugees demonstrated Wednesday at the India-Nepal border, where a day earlier Indian troops shot and killed one refugee, officials said.

THAI PARTY DISBANDED: A court disbanded the party of Thailand's ousted prime minister Wednesday, barring him and 110 Thai Rak Thai Party executives from politics for five years due to election law violations.

YOUTUBE RETURNS: Moroccans could access the video-sharing Web site YouTube on Wednesday for the first time since access was blocked last week.