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Yushchenko to be sworn in today

Compiled from wire reports The Spokesman-Review

Kiev, Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko, to be sworn in as president Sunday, has pledged to steer Ukraine on a new course, fighting corruption and bringing the former Soviet republic closer to the European Union and NATO while maintaining good relations with Russia.

In Washington, President Bush called Yushchenko to congratulate him on his election and on “democracy’s victory” in Ukraine, White House spokesman Brian Besanceney said.

Secretary of State Colin Powell arrived Saturday night and said that he was “honored to be here for this historic occasion.”

“The two leaders also discussed their support for the people of Iraq and for democracy in that country,” White House spokesman Brian Besanceney said. “They agreed to consult and work closely together in the coming months.”

In contrast, Russia sent relatively low-level representation – Sergei Mironov, head of the upper house of parliament.

Opening of Columbus grave postponed

Santo Domingo, Dominican Rep. Authorities said Saturday that more discussions are needed before a Spanish research team can examine a tomb purportedly holding Christopher Columbus’ remains, setting back efforts to determine if claims that he is buried in Spain are true.

The government initially had agreed to reopen the tomb on Feb. 15, but authorities later backtracked after the event was heavily publicized.

Dominican authorities were upset with reports that researchers would do more than visually inspect the bones. The dispute over which set of remains are authentic has simmered for more than 100 years.

The tomb is housed in a sprawling monument to Columbus in the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo. Spanish investigators had planned to look at the bones to see if they were stable enough to take DNA samples.

Maldives holds vote delayed by tsunami

Male, Maldives Maldivians cast votes to elect a parliament Saturday, three weeks after the election was postponed because of the Indian Ocean tsunami, amid accusations that the ruling party has linked reconstruction aid to favorable votes.

In the absence of a multiparty system, nearly 150 individual candidates contested the vote for parliament’s 42 seats in the island chain, where the president, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, has ruled with an iron fist since 1978.

Government spokesman Mohamed Shareef denied the charge that the poll wasn’t free or fair, saying officials from the Commonwealth and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation were monitored the vote.

At least 82 Maldivians were killed by the Dec. 26 tsunami, which hit the coastlines of many Asian countries and as far away as Africa.

Vatican affirms stand against condoms

Vatican City Education, chastity and sexual fidelity are the responsible methods to combat AIDS, Pope John Paul II said Saturday, reiterating Vatican policy days after Spanish bishops supported condom use to fight the disease but then quickly reversed their position.

The Vatican has come under fire from AIDS activists because it forbids use of condoms, even to prevent transmission of the HIV virus.

“The Holy See … considers that it is necessary above all to combat this disease in a responsible way by increasing prevention, notably through education about respect of the sacred value of life and formation about the correct practice of sexuality, which presupposes chastity and fidelity,” John Paul told the Netherlands’ new ambassador to the Holy See, Monique Patricia Antoinette Frank, who presented her credentials to the pontiff.

The pope’s comments came days after Spanish bishops made front-page headlines by announcing an apparent change in policy toward condom use. On Tuesday, Bishop Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, spokesman for the Spanish Bishops Conference, said “condoms have a place in the global prevention of AIDS.”

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