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Cuba awaits Bush’s exit

FRIDAY, JAN. 18, 2008

Cuba is not interested in improving relations with the United States while President Bush is in office and will wait for a change in U.S. leadership before extending anew an offer for dialogue, Cuba’s top diplomat in the U.S. said Thursday.

As Cuba heads into weekend parliamentary elections that undoubtedly will extend the ailing Fidel Castro’s grip on power, Havana is looking to America’s vote in November to decide whether it wants to talk to Washington, said Jorge Alberto Bolanos Suarez, head of the Cuban Interest Section in Washington.

In an interview with the Associated Press, he said Cuban offers for dialogue with the United States made by Castro’s brother, Raul, after he took day-to-day control of the government in 2006 were not intended for the Bush administration, which staunchly supports the nearly 46-year-old U.S. economic embargo of Cuba.

“When Raul spoke about it he was not referring to the present administration,” Bolanos said.

Sydney, Australia

Whale activists cause standoff

A tense standoff in frigid Antarctic waters ended today when two activists who had jumped on board a Japanese whaling boat were returned to their ship by Australian officials.

An Australian customs ship picked up the two activists – Australian Benjamin Potts, 28, and Briton Giles Lane, 35 – who prompted the face-off when they leaped from a rubber boat onto the deck of the Japanese ship Yushin Maru 2 on Tuesday.

Their return paved the way for the Japanese fleet to resume killing whales, and for their staunchest opponents to restart their campaign of harassment to stop them.

Nairobi, Kenya

At least five killed at protest

Police cracked down on a second day of protests across Kenya on Thursday, firing bullets at opposition supporters and tear gas at a hospital. At least five people were killed.

The United States blamed President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga for the violent demonstrations and ethnic clashes that have killed more than 600 Kenyans since a disputed Dec. 27 presidential vote.

“It is beyond time for them to come together and open those channels of communication and focus all of their efforts on trying to reach a political accommodation,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.


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