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In Brief: Kiev customs officials allowed to inspect Russian convoy

From Wire Reports

Pro-Russia separatists who control part of Ukraine’s eastern border allowed Kiev customs officials into the occupied territory Thursday to inspect a Russian convoy seeking to carry aid to the militants’ last two strongholds.

The long-delayed inspection of Moscow’s 280-vehicle relief convoy encouraged a senior official of the International Committee of the Red Cross to predict that the 2,000 tons of food, water, sleeping bags and generators could reach civilians in Luhansk as soon as today.

The convoy had been parked for the past week in Kamensk-Shakhtinsky in Russia’s Rostov region, about 20 miles east of the Ukrainian border, while authorities in Kiev and Moscow battled over conditions for its onward passage.

Former Irish Prime Minister Reynolds dies

DUBLIN – Albert Reynolds, the risk-taking Irish prime minister who played a key role in delivering peace to Northern Ireland but struggled to keep his own governments intact, died Thursday after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 81.

The government ordered flags to fly at half-mast until Reynolds’ state funeral Monday.

Reynolds, a savvy businessman from rural County Roscommon who made millions running rural dance halls and a pet food company before his election to parliament in 1977, led two feud-prone coalition governments from 1992 to 1994.

During his turbulent tenure, Reynolds made peace in neighboring Northern Ireland his top priority. With British Prime Minister John Major at his side, he unveiled the Downing Street Declaration, a 1993 blueprint for peace in the predominantly British Protestant territory. To drive it forward, he successfully pressed the outlawed Irish Republican Army to call a 1994 cease-fire.

Yet within months of that peacemaking triumph, a stunned Reynolds was forced to quit as leader of Ireland’s centrist Fianna Fail party after his coalition partners in the left-wing Labour Party withdrew from the government in protest over his dismissive management style.

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