News round-up

27 May - 9 June 1997

Russia to remove nuclear threat

President Boris Yeltsin surprised everyone at a meeting between the Russian Federation and Western leaders by announcing his decision to have all Russian nuclear weapons still targeted at NATO countries dismantled. A spokesperson for the President later explained that missiles would not be actually taken apart, but had already been 'de-targeted'.

Earlier at the meeting held in Paris, the 16 members of NATO and the Russian Federation had signed The Founding Act, which will give Russia a permanent voice, though not a veto, at NATO's Brussels headquarters. The agreement is intended to allay Russian fears over NATO's expansion into states formerly within the Soviet Union.

IMF gives surprise loan to Czech Republic

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) offered the Czech Republic an unusual loan worth several billion dollars to protect the national currency, according to a local news station. Nova TV claimed it received the news from two Czech cabinet ministers, who also said the loan was conditional on the country having a budget surplus, which would require further budget cuts. The IMF rarely offers loans to support a currency, but foreign commentators seem to have been shocked by the Czech monetary crisis.

Romania and Ukraine sign treaty

Romania and Ukraine have signed a treaty setting aside historical differences which Bucharest hopes will bolster its chances of being chosen for fast-track NATO membership. The deal follows three years of tough negotiating between the two countries to resolve sensitive issues arising from an agreement - signed almost 60 years ago between the then Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union - under which Romania lost large territories to Moscow. Bucharest say they have made historical concessions to reach a compromise.

Pope visiting Poland

Pope John Paul II has tried to dismiss fears about his health, joking about his age and making an unscheduled walkabout to greet crowds during an arduous tour of his home country of Poland. The Pope, who is believed to be suffering from Parkinson's Disease, had been looking frail according to reports, but during the tour he was vigorous in his defence of the Catholic Church as a guardian of freedom.

British ship hooks WWII shell

A British ship snagged a World War II artillery shell in its anchor chain in Swinoujscie port in Poland. A storm had stopped Polish navy sappers from removing the shell, and there were fears that it could present a danger to the British ship and other vessels in the port.

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