Early WMD dossier draft released


London : British Foreign Secretary David Miliband Monday published an early draft of the UK's infamous dossier on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

The document, by former Foreign Office press chief John Williams, was an unpublished draft of the dossier which was unveiled by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on 24 September 2002.

The Foreign Office failed in its appeal against the Information Commissioner's order that it should release the draft.

It had said publishing it could inhibit the "effective conduct of government".


Results announced in truffle-hunting competition in north Spain

By RIA Novosti

Madrid : An annual truffle-hunting competition has been held in Spain's northern province of Soria, the Diario de Leon newspaper said on Monday.

A total of 11 truffle hunters, also called 'trufflers,' representing eight Spanish provinces, took part in the competition, which was held in a mountainous area near the Barranco de Abejar neighborhood. They were accompanied by special 'truffle hounds.'

A local professional truffle hunter was announced the winner of the competition after finding four mushrooms.


French police arrest riot leaders


Paris : Police have rounded up some 35 people in raids on housing estates near Paris.

The French police said that they targeted the leaders of riots last November.

Some 1,000 police took part in the pre-dawn sweep in and around Villiers-le-Bel, some 20km north of Paris.

The 2007 riots began in Paris's mainly immigrant suburbs after two teenagers died in a crash with a police car.

More than 100 policemen were injured at the time, some seriously.


Two missing, 26 rescued from Chinese boat off Philippines


Manila : A Chinese fishing boat sank in northern Philippines seas, leaving two crewmen missing, while 26 were rescued, the Coast Guard said Monday.

The MV Jinshan sank late Sunday off Ilocos Norte province, 435 km north of Manila, Coast Guard spokesman Armand Balilo said.

A Japanese oil tanker rescued 26 of the boat's crewmen as it passed by shortly after the accident, Balilo said.

A coast guard rescue team sent to the area has not yet found the shipwreck or the two missing members of the crew, he added.


Animal rights group protests LTTE attack on zoo


Colombo : An international animal rights organisation has protested the bombing of a zoo in Dehiwela in Sri Lanka, allegedly by Tamil Tiger rebels earlier this month.

"In addition to injuring several human beings - which was no doubt its intent - the explosive device that was set off near the zoo's birds enclosure terrified many animals in the zoo," said Ingrid E. Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in a letter to the Tamil Tiger leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran.

EU supports African efforts to resolve crisis in Chad


Brussels : The European Union firmly condemned Monday the recent rebel attacks against the government of Chad and renewed calls for dialogue to end the crisis. The Council of EU Foreign Ministers discussed here today the situation in Chad and in a statement expressed support to the initiative taken by the African Union to engage the parties to end fighting and its efforts aimed at seeking a lasting solution to the crisis.


British Prime Minister wants oil prices to come down


London : British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Monday that he wanted to see a greater supply of oil and a better match between supply and demand.

In answer to a question during his regular monthly press conference in Downing Street, the Prime Minister said this match would make it possible for oil prices to come down.

Meanwhile, he praised the cooperation between Britain and the GCC states, saying "We work very closely with them".

In addition, Brown said one of the worrying financial problems in the world today is the higher oil prices.

Greece says 88 people on board Russia Navy SOS vessel

By RIA Novosti

Athens : A Russian Navy vessel which earlier sent a call of distress from the Aegean Sea has 88 crew members on board, a spokesman for the Greek Mercantile Marine Ministry said on Monday.

"It has been confirmed that it is a Russian Navy vessel. It has 88 people on board," the spokesman said, adding that a relief operation was underway.

The distress call came at 8:36 a.m. GMT.


Opposition prepares for Georgia-wide hunger strikes on Friday

By RIA Novosti

Tbilisi : The Georgian opposition has begun preparations for hunger strikes due to start simultaneously across the former Soviet republic, including the capital, Tbilisi, on Friday.

"We have started preparations for the hunger strikes scheduled for February 22," said the leader of People's Party, Koba Davitashvili.

The opposition is demanding electoral reforms, press freedom and the release of more than 40 'political prisoners' ahead of parliamentary polls in May.


Opinion poll gives Medvedev huge lead in Russian presidential race

By RIA Novosti

Moscow : An opinion poll has indicated that 69.9 percent of voters intend to vote for Kremlin-backed Dmitry Medvedev in Russia's March 2 presidential elections, the state-run VTsIOM pollster said Monday.

Currently a first deputy prime minister, Medvedev was publicly backed by Vladimir Putin as his successor in mid-December, and was later nominated by the ruling United Russia party as a presidential candidate.