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World in brief: Castro meets with Chinese official

Sun., April 22, 2007

The photos of a stronger and healthier Fidel Castro meeting with a high-level Chinese delegation published in Cuba’s principal newspaper Saturday are perhaps the most significant sign so far that the ailing leader is not just getting better, but getting back to business, too.

Castro and top members of his Cabinet met Friday with Wu Guanzheng, a member of China’s Communist Party Politburo who headed a delegation of visiting Chinese officials, the Granma daily reported.

“Companero Fidel exchanged ideas with the Politburo member for an hour,” the paper said.

Two pictures showed the 80-year-old Castro in a black and red jogging suit and looking generally healthy. They were a far cry from photos taken early into Castro’s illness, which showed him severely underweight and lying in bed.

“I am impressed and surprised,” said University of Miami Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies research associate Jorge Pinon. “I think it’s a sign he’s getting better.”

Nablus, West Bank

Iasraeli troops kill six Palestinians

Israeli troops killed six Palestinians, including a 17-year-old girl, in the bloodiest day of fighting this year across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials said Saturday.

The dead also included three militants traveling together in a car in the northern West Bank, and a man in Gaza killed in an Israeli airstrike in response to a Palestinian rocket attack.

Israeli officials defended the operations as the latest steps in their ongoing war against Palestinian militants. But Palestinian officials said the bloodshed only hurt efforts to expand a cease-fire in Gaza to the West Bank.

The fighting erupted early Saturday in the northern West Bank, an area known as a stronghold of militant groups.

The three militants were killed as they traveled in the northern town of Jenin. Palestinian officials said the men were ambushed by undercover troops, while the army said its troops returned fire after the militants shot at them.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Air traffic control blamed in collision

The U.S. company that owned the executive jet involved in a mid-air collision with a commercial airliner blamed faulty Brazilian air traffic control for the accident that killed 154 people, according to a report obtained by the Associated Press on Saturday.

The Sept. 29 accident was Brazil’s deadliest air disaster. A Gol airlines Boeing 737 and an ExcelAire Legacy 600 jet clipped each other, causing the jetliner to plunge into the Amazon rain forest and killing everyone aboard. No one was injured in the smaller plane.

In a 154-page report to Brazilian federal police this month, New York-based ExcelAire said an analysis of air traffic control transmissions and flight recorders in the Legacy “confirmed that both planes were freed by Air Traffic Control to fly at the same altitude and the same path, in opposite directions.”

Brazilian officials were not immediately available to comment on the report.


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