It was almost as if U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell had two sets of meetings in Moscow last week. Russian officials say he spent a "friendly and constructive" time with Russian President Vladimir Putin. But by the U.S. account, there was a "spirited" exchange in which Powell praised U.S.-Russian relations but dwelt in unusual detail on the Kremlin's dark side, warning that relations with the U.S. would ultimately be damaged if Russia failed to address concerns about its apparent slide toward authoritarianism.
And in an op-ed in the Russian daily Izvestia, Powell wrote that "certain developments in Russian politics and foreign policy in recent months have given us pause." If Powell was signaling a new, tougher White House policy, it has been a long time in the making. A senior U.S. official told journalists that concerns over Putin's authoritarian tendencies had been intensified by the Kremlin's crackdown on Yukos oil tycoon Mikhail
Powell's message, says one U.S. official, was "more a heads up than an ultimatum." Russian TV viewers were spared any confusion. The tightly controlled networks showed only snippets of Powell's friendly opening comments.
U.K. The University of Cambridge threw in the towel on its proposed state-of-the-art primate research facility despite having only recently won a long battle for permission to build it. Rising cost projections, from $43 million in 1998 to $58 million partly due to the need to make the facility secure from militant animal-rights protesters led the university to declare that it could not afford to "build Fort Knox."
IRAN President Mohammed Khatami said that efforts to resolve the crisis over parliamentary elections had reached a dead end after the hard-line Guardian Council refused to rescind bans on thousands of mainly reformist candidates. Officials had called for the election to be postponed, but the Council refused.
In from the Cold
LIBYA The U.S. praised Libya for making "real progress" toward fulfilling its commitment to dismantle its unconventional weapons program, announcing that 25,000 kg of material related to Libya's nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles programs had been flown to Tennessee. U.S. and British nuclear inspectors also completed their first visit to Libya.
An End to Anarchy?
SOMALIA Warlords who control most of the country joined politicians and other traditional leaders to sign a landmark agreement to establish what would be the country's first real national government since the overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. Under the Kenyan-brokered deal, a new parliament selected along clan lines will appoint a President who in turn will appoint a Prime Minister.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC At least six people died in clashes with police during a 48-hour strike to protest the spiraling economic crisis. The strike, which organizers said closed 97% of businesses, came as the U.S. Coast Guard struggles to stem a growing exodus of Dominicans trying to flee by boat to Puerto Rico.
MEANWHILE IN DENMARK ...
If You Can't Do The Time
The government ordered an inquiry following a report in the Ekstra Bladet newspaper that convicts were paying stand-ins to serve their prison sentences for them. The paper said that the substitutes, who charge between $80 and $160 a day, only have to show national identity cards which don't have photos on them when they turn up to start the term.