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World Briefing - 2002-10-24

European officials are renewing negotiations on eastward European Union expansion after Irish voters accepted the plan in a referendum. EU foreign ministers are meeting in Luxembourg to prepare for a full EU summit on the issue in Brussels. The ten candidate countries, most of them former Communist states, hope to join the European group by 2004.

Ecuador is headed for a second round, run-off presidential election after no candidate received 50 percent of the vote in Sunday’s balloting. The top two finishers will face-off in a second round election on November 24th.

Fourteen high-ranking Venezuelan military officers have called on the country’s people and armed forces to reject the rule of President Hugo Chavez. The officers declared themselves in “legitimate disobedience” and said they do not recognize the current government. They called for anti-Chavez protests and were joined by several thousand people at a rally in Caracas.

A ceasefire between the government and rebels in Ivory Coast appears to be holding even as officials charge insurgents with violations. More than a thousand French troops are creating a buffer zone between the two sides until a regional peacekeeping force is in place. West African leaders are to meet in Abidjan to prepare peace talks between the northern-based rebel soldiers and the government.

Australian authorities have filed formal charges against an economics student in connection with a shooting spree at a university in Melbourne that left two people dead and five others wounded. The student did not enter a plea or ask for bail. The case was adjourned until February.

And finally, the crew of the U.S. Space Shuttle Atlantis is back on Earth after carrying out multi-million dollar construction work on the International Space Station. Atlantis touched down at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with its six-member crew, which includes a Russian cosmonaut. During their 11-day mission, the crewmembers took part in three spacewalks.