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Report: Pope may return to hospital

Wed., March 30, 2005

Vatican City Pope John Paul II may have to return to the hospital to have a feeding tube inserted because he is having difficulty swallowing, an Italian news agency reported Tuesday.

The APcom news agency said no decision had been taken and the feeding tube was one option being considered to help the 84-year-old pope get better nutrition and regain his strength.

Citing an unidentified source, the agency said the pope’s doctors were considering the procedure, which involves inserting a feeding tube through the throat and into the stomach. The tube is drawn through the throat and then extended from inside the stomach to outside the body through a small incision in the abdomen. Liquid formula is fed through the tube into the stomach, and the tube does not remain in the throat.

Probe clears Annan of contract meddling

New York Investigators probing the U.N. oil-for-food program said Tuesday that Secretary-General Kofi Annan didn’t interfere in the awarding of a contract to a company that employed his son but criticized the U.N. chief for not properly investigating possible conflicts of interest.

A defiant Annan said “Hell no” when asked at a news conference if he would resign, noting the report’s findings that he committed no wrongdoing.

Although the report did not completely vindicate the secretary-general, the investigation led by former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker said there was insufficient evidence to show that he was aware of the bid.

Still, the report raised questions about when the secretary-general learned about the December 1998 contract to the Swiss firm, Cotecna Inspection S.A., and strongly criticized the destruction of documents by his former chief of staff that could have shed light on the oil-for-food scandal in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

The independent inquiry, released Tuesday, faulted Annan for conducting a one-day investigation into the matter, saying it should have been a more rigorous, independent probe.

Exiled Kyrgyzstan chief prepared to step down

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan Ousted President Askar Akayev surfaced in Russia after fleeing this Central Asian nation and said Tuesday he would resign if given legal protections – the first sign he is willing to yield power.

Akayev, who fled after protesters seized government headquarters last week, also accused his foes of plotting his overthrow for months. Interim leader Kurmanbek Bakiyev said the storming of the government headquarters was never planned, and he called for an official inquiry.

In an interview with Russia’s state-run Channel One television, Akayev emphasized he is Kyrgyzstan’s legitimate leader and suggested he would keep a hand in its fragile politics.

Asked whether he was prepared to step down, Akayev replied: “Of course, of course – if I am given the relevant guarantees and if it is in full accordance with the current legislation.”

Speaking earlier to Ekho Mosvky radio, Akayev emphasized he is “the only elected and legitimate president of Kyrgyzstan” and stressed that his term ends in autumn.


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