People: Pinochet gets chilly reception in Netherlands

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The Independent Online
THE FORMER Chilean military dictator, Augusto Pinochet, on a private tour of Europe, failed to slip incognito through Amsterdam last week and was turned out of his hotel where he had registered under a false name. Spotted by an eagle-eyed member of staff at the Amstel Hotel he was firmly told that his security could not be guaranteed and, what was more, his presence in the hotel was jeopardising the safety of other guests.

The reaction at the Dutch Foreign Ministry was even frostier. A spokesman said The Hague had no knowledge of General Pinochet's visit, had not invited him and could not comment on reports that the general, who is still commander-in-chief of Chile's army, was on a shopping spree for arms.

General Pinochet then drove across Europe to Prague at the invitation of Omnipol, a company which specialises in arms exports, to discuss buying armoured vehicles. He is to stay in the Czech republic until Friday and visit an arms and military equipment show in Brno tomorrow.

THE MAN most likely to become Hungary's next prime minister, Gyula Horn, faces more headaches than he expected and will be unable to sleep lying down for at least three months.

Following a car accident early this month in which he broke a vertebra in his neck, he has to wear a 15lb metal-and-plastic frame around his head and chest. This ungainly contraption, known as a 'halofixer', looks like a forehead band supported by four metal rods leaning against the shoulders.

But it is not that simple. Four screws on the titanium-alloy forehead-supporter penetrate the skin and are fixed to the temple bones. And the metal rods extend beneath the shirt in a sheepskin- lined rigid plastic vest. Since reclining is impossible, Mr Horn must sleep sitting up.

Not surprisingly, Mr Horn wants to be rid of the device as soon as possible. Hungarians have promptly nicknamed him Kobuki, after a cartoon spaceman from the future. Compared with this ordeal, running the country should be a breeze.

THE FUTURE of the European Union, debated by Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer at the weekend, threw up a sharp difference in approach compared with the post-war spirit of conciliation of their respective grandfathers.

The men were asked on German television: 'What would your grandfather think today of European construction?' Mr De Gaulle, of the centre-right Union for French Democracy, said his grandfather, founder of the Fifth Republic, would 'not have accepted the conception of Europe which stems from the Maastricht treaty'. He had believed Europe should be an association of sovereign states, not a federation.

The Christian Democrat Mr Adenauer, by contrast, said his grandfather, West Germany's first chancellor, 'dreamed of seeing the United States of Europe and that was what he was fighting for.'

THERE are whispers that Suha Tawil plans to divorce Yasser Arafat. Rumours of a marital breakdown swept PLO headquarters in Tunis after Arafat ordered his wife's uncle, George Hawa, to be detained for five days in connection with a corruption scandal.

Stuff and nonsense, insists Mrs Arafat. 'There is no truth to the rumours . . . Arafat and I are staying together until death.'

(Photograph omitted)

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