The World This Week

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The Independent Online
SEVERAL Western politicians are looking to the East this week. The German Foreign Minister, Klaus Kinkel, visits Pakistan on Wednesday and Thursday, a country described by Germany as 'an old friend' and an 'important economic partner'. He will discuss German technical assistance and its 120m German ( pounds 48.7m) of aid.

Mr Kinkel goes to the Philippines on Thursday until Saturday and makes a two-day visit to China on Sunday. Officials say this does not signify the return to normal relations with Peking, since political prisoners are still held there. China is, however, an economic partner of growing importance to Germany.

The Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk makes his first visit to China on Thursday until Saturday. He is due to sign a Chinese trade loan for Ukraine, and China has shown interest in buying advanced military hardware from Ukraine. Before leaving home, however, Mr Kravchuk receives a visit tomorrow from the Polish Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Hanna Suchocka, to sign a treaty on military co-operation.

The European railway workers' union has called a one-hour strike tomorrow in Portugal, Spain, France, Luxembourg, Italy, Belgium and Greece, and plans demonstrations and handing in petitions elsewhere in Europe. The railway workers say the aim of their protest is to 'raise awareness of rail development' and press national governments and the EC to make railways the 'essential axis' of European transport and to halt privatisation.

Germany's President Richard von Weizacker receives an award from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees at a ceremony in Bonn today. The award of the Nansen Medal recognises 'his active involvement in combating intolerance and xenophobia'. The medal's effect will presumably have worn off by Sunday, when the first of 50,000 Romanian gypsies fly into Bucharest from Berlin after having been deported under a new treaty between Germany and Romania. Bonn, under pressure from right-wing racists, rejected the gypsies' requests for asylum.

A neo-fascist rally is being held in Naples on Wednesday to commemorate the Fascists' march on Rome in 1922. The rally will be led by Mussolini's granddaughter.

Sentence is to be passed today or this week in the trial in Stammheim prison, Stuttgart, of Christian Klar and Peter- Jurgen Boock, members of the Red Army Faction who carried out a bank raid in Zurich in 1979, killing one person and seriously injuring three. Three suspected members of the IRA, Donna Maguire, Sean Hick and Paul Hughes appear in court in Dusseldorf today on charges relating to the murder of a British major in Dortmund and a failed bomb attack in Hanover.

The World Health Organisation holds a ministerial conference in Amsterdam on malaria today and tomorrow. The ministers seek a global strategy to combat the disease that causes more than a million deaths each year. The WHO reckons that 40 per cent of the world's population is exposed to the risk of malaria, while conventional remedies are becoming useless in the face of more resistant strains.

A strict anti-smoking law comes into force in France on Sunday, under which segregated smoking areas will be compulsory in restaurants, cafes and workplaces. The long arm of the law is strengthened, too, in Russia, where policemen's salaries go up 50 per cent on Sunday.

In an attempt to put right an old miscarriage of justice, a tribunal convenes in the French port of Nantes today to re-try and rehabilitate Gilles de Rais, a Breton warlord and Joan of Arc's companion in arms who was hanged and burnt 550 years ago for alleged offences ranging from heresy to sodomy.

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