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World in brief: Cuba, Mexico restore relations

Fri., March 14, 2008, midnight

Cuba and Mexico declared their once-chilly relations fully restored on Thursday, and Cuba’s foreign minister said he will soon deliver a formal invitation for Mexico’s president to visit the island.

“Relations between Mexico and Cuba are fully normalized,” Cuban Foreign Minster Perez Roque said after meeting with his Mexican counterpart, Patricia Espinosa.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has said he wants warmer ties with Cuba – which historically have been good but soured under his predecessor, Vicente Fox, who feuded publicly with Fidel Castro.

Perez Roque said he will visit Mexico in September with an invitation for Calderon from new Cuban President Raul Castro.

Ottawa, Ont.

Lawmakers extend Afghan mission

Parliament voted Thursday to extend Canada’s mission in Afghanistan to 2011, provided NATO supplies more troops and equipment to back up its forces in the volatile south.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has been under growing pressure to withdraw Canada’s 2,500 troops as the death toll has mounted, now at 80 Canadian soldiers and a diplomat. The mission was set to expire in February 2009.

But the minority Conservative government and opposition Liberals agreed last month to vote together on the motion, which passed 198-77. Liberals backed the extension after Harper promised the mission would increase its focus on training and reconstruction.

The extension of the mission is conditional on NATO providing 1,000 troops, helicopters and unmanned surveillance aircraft to back up forces in southern Kandahar province, a former Taliban stronghold.


Officials say kids were cocaine mules

A Mexican woman was charged Thursday with trying to smuggle more than 30 pounds of cocaine into Britain by strapping bags of the drug to the legs of two children.

Elisa Vazquez Sanchez, 40, was detained Tuesday at London’s Heathrow airport after customs officers found cocaine strapped to the legs of the children, ages 11 and 13, after the three arrived on a flight from Mexico.

Authorities said the 33 pounds of the cocaine had an estimated street value of $1.36 million.

“We never cease to be amazed at the lengths to which some people will go to hide drugs from us when they pass through our controls,” said Bob Gaiger, Revenue & Customs spokesman at Heathrow.


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