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Wednesday
May182011

French President's Wife Reportedly Expecting

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images(BERLIN) -- This has been a momentous week for French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

First, he learned that International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, his likely rival in next year's national election, was arrested in New York for allegedly sexually assaulting a hotel maid.

Now, comes word that Sarkozy is going to be a dad again.

While the 56-year-old French leader hasn't publicly commented on the report, Germany's Bild newspaper says that it got the scoop from Sarkozy's father, who claimed that his son's wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, is indeed pregnant with the couple's first child.

Sarkozy has three children from two previous marriages, while the 43-year-old Bruni-Sarkozy has a son from an earlier relationship.

Most political pundits in France say that the first lady being pregnant can only enhance her husband's reelection chances, which haven't looked too promising -- at least not until this week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May172011

Dominique Strauss-Kahn's Alleged Victim Inconsolable After Attack, Says Brother

Harold Cunningham/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Manhattan hotel chambermaid allegedly sodomized by IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is still reeling from the attack, crying inconsolably three days after the French politician allegedly assaulted her, her brother said.

"She was still crying today," her brother told ABC News. "She was completely devastated. I was the first person she called."

The woman, a housekeeper at New York City's tony Sofitel Hotel, called her brother from the emergency room at St. Luke's Hospital where she was examined by doctors and questioned by NYPD detectives Saturday night, following the alleged attack.

"She called me and said: 'Something really bad happened,'" he said.

He described his sister, an immigrant from West Africa and the mother of a 9-year-old girl, as a "good Muslim" and "not the kind of woman to attack a man."

"She didn't understand why he did such a thing," he said.

She is being held at a safe but undisclosed location, he said.

ABC News does not identify the alleged victims of sexual assault.

Strauss-Kahn, 62, is accused of forcing the housekeeper to perform oral sex and submit to anal sex after he emerged naked from his suite's bathroom. The married father of four is accused of sexual assault and attempted rape.

Days ago considered a potential frontrunner in a French presidential election, Strauss-Kahn is being held without bail in a jail cell on New York's notorious Riker's Island.

Strauss-Kahn was arrested Saturday, hauled out of the first-class cabin on an Air France jet moments before taking off from Kennedy Airport.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May172011

New Nuke Talks with Iran? World Leaders Not Confident

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The European Union foreign policy chief told reporters Tuesday that she sees little chance of nuclear talks with Iran in the near future.

"I would like to say there will be a new round of talks," the EU's Catherine Ashton explained. "From the letter that I've received, I don't see that at the present time," she said, referring to Iran's recent response to a letter she sent them earlier this year.

Earlier this year the U.S. and its allies met with Iran for the second time in as many months to discuss its nuclear program. The talks fell apart as Iran insisted it would not halt enrichment as the international community had demanded.

"We have been clear and united, under Cathy Ashton's leadership, since the Geneva and Istanbul meetings, that Iran has to meet its international obligations and negotiate seriously on the nuclear issue," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

"Lady Ashton is preparing a response to Iran's recent letter, but let me make clear that the burden remains on Iran to demonstrate it is prepared to end its stalling tactics, drop its unacceptable preconditions and start addressing the international community's concerns," Clinton added.

"I had wished for a stronger and better letter from them to recognize that the offer on the table is an offer they should look at very carefully. I will be sending a reply. We'll be consulting with our partners, not least with the United States, before we do so. But I do urge Iran to think again and to consider coming back to the table," Ashton said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May172011

Obama Meets with Jordan's King, Talks Mideast Peace

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Calling it "more vital than ever" that Israelis and Palestinians get back to the negotiating table, President Obama on Tuesday attempted to assure King Abdullah II of Jordan that the United States is still committed to the peace process.

"We both share the view that, despite the many changes, or perhaps because of the many changes that have taken place in the region, it's more vital than ever that both Israelis and Palestinians find a way to get back to the table and begin negotiating a process whereby they can create a -- two states that are living side by side in peace and security."

The president noted that Jordan has an enormous stake in this -- as does the United States.

"We will continue to partner to try to encourage an equitable and just solution to a problem that has been nagging the region for many, many years."

King Abdullah thanked the president for his "continued interest and support on the core issue of the Middle East, which is the Israeli-Palestinian peace."

The two leaders also discussed the broader changes in Libya and the Middle East as well as Egypt and Tunisia, emphasizing that economic reform should be paired with political reform sweeping through the region.

"We both agreed that it's critical that not only does political reform proceed but economic reform accompanies those changes there, because so much of what's taking place has to do with the aspirations of young people throughout the Arab world for their ability to determine their own fate, to get an education, to get a job, to be able to support a family," the president said, "And that means some of the old structures that were inhibiting their ability to progress have to be reworked."

President Obama will deliver a speech Thursday on the uprisings in the Middle East. On Friday, the president is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May172011

White House Negotiating with the Taliban?

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration is accelerating efforts to negotiate with the Taliban, the Washington Post reported Monday, in hopes of some progress before the president’s expected announcement of a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan this summer.

"We have consistently supported an Afghan-led process of reconciliation," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said when asked about the report. "And currently we have a broad range of contacts that are ongoing across Afghanistan and the region at many different levels in order to support the Afghan initiative," she said, listing efforts by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

"We have outlined our red lines for the Taliban. They must renounce violence; they must abandon their alliance with al Qaeda, which would certainly seem as would be an easier step for them to take now, post the death of bin Laden; and they must abide by the constitution of Afghanistan," Clinton said.

She added that "I'm not going to get into any detail about any contacts other than to say we have repeatedly supported in word and deed an Afghan-led process."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May172011

Moammar Gadhafi's Oil Minister Defects

ABC News(DOHA, Qatar) -- Libyan oil minister Shukri Ghanem has left the side of Col. Moammar Gadfhafi, the country's Transitional National Council (TNC) confirmed at a press conference on Tuesday.

Sounding optimistic, TNC officials told ABC News they believe that Gadhafi has just three months left in power at best.

Ghanem is the latest of Gadhafi's confidants to defect the Libyan strongman's regime. News of his departure comes a day after the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court asked judges to issue an arrest warrant for Gadhafi, charging him with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May172011

Bomb Squad Diffuses Device in Dublin Ahead of Queen's Visit

John Stillwell - Pool/Getty Images(DUBLIN) -- Dublin is on high alert Tuesday after a possible bomb was found ahead of Queen Elizabeth II's visit to Ireland.

According to a Dublin Police Department spokesman, a "viable" improvised explosive device was found on a bus traveling toward Dublin.  The bus was stopped and evacuated in Maynooth in County Kildare, where bomb disposal experts were able to diffuse it.  The situation was declared safe around 2 a.m local time.

Hours later, another possible explosive was reported in west Dublin, but police found that threat to be a hoax.  The incident was deemed safe around 8 a.m.

Despite the bomb threats, the 85-year-old Queen landed in Ireland Tuesday for a four-day visit.  Her trip marks the first time a British monarch has visited Ireland.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May172011

NATO Choppers, Pakistani Troops Exchange Fire Near Afghan Border

AbleStock.com/Thinkstock (file photo)(ISLAMABAD) -- An exchange of fire between NATO helicopters and Pakistani soldiers in North Waziristan Tuesday left two Pakistani troops injured and questions as to why the firing took place.

According to the Pakistani Army, the helicopters crossed into Pakistan from Afghanistan, prompting soldiers at a nearby post to fire at the aircraft for violating Pakistani air space.

However, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said it received fire from across the border -- while the choppers were still in Afghanistan.  A U.S. military official said the helicopters did not return fire until they were shot at for a second time.

The same U.S. military official said ISAF is checking equipment on board the helicopters to see if they crossed the border at any time during the incident.

The Pakistani Army has lodged a complaint and is requesting a flag meeting.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May172011

Amanda Knox Back in Italian Court for Slander Trial

TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images(ROME) -- Amanda Knox was back in an Italian courtroom for a brief appearance Tuesday in her new trial on charges that she slandered Italian police during her murder trial.

Looking at ease, wearing a white long-sleeve t-shirt, black slacks and a green band in her hair, Knox, 23, was escorted into the courtroom by jail guards.  She smiled as soon as she saw her father, Curt Knox, who just arrived from their home in Seattle Monday night from the U.S. and who she hasn't seen for a number of months.

Knox was in the Perugia courtroom for the first hearing of a new trial in which she is accused of slandering seven Perugia police officials and an interpreter.  The slander accusation stems from Knox's testimony that police were abusive towards her while she was being interrogated prior to her Nov. 6, 2007 arrest.

Knox has been imprisoned in Perugia since then and was sentenced to 26 years in prison last December following her murder conviction.  Her then-boyfriend of less than two weeks, Raffaele Sollecito, was sentenced to 25 years on the same charges.  Another defendant, Rudy Guede, was sentenced separately for the Kercher murder to a 30-year term which was reduced to 16 years on appeal.

Knox and Sollecito's appeal trial for the murder started last November and is still underway in Perugia.

Knox insists she is innocent in Kercher's death and denies the slander charges.  Her lawyers say she was just trying to defend herself in court and never meant to offend or slander the police.  If convicted of slander, any prison sentence imposed would be added to her current sentence.

Although Tuesday was the first trial hearing in the slander trial and was expected to be purely procedural, Knox showed up as she has done for every trial and pre-trial hearing in which she is the accused.

In a sparsely-attended hearing, Knox answered 'Si', yes in Italian, to the question from Judge Daniele Cenci if she understood Italian.  The 17-minute session was promptly adjourned until Nov. 15 after a number of procedural issues raised by the defense.

Knox's parents, Edda Mellas and Curt Knox, also face slander charges for repeating their daughter's claims during an interview with a London newspaper.  Their libel case is scheduled to begin July 4.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May172011

IMF Chief's Arrest Leaves French Angry, Dismayed and Defensive

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The French have reacted with a range of emotions to sexual assault allegations against International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, some shocked by the charges and others angered by his treatment at the hands of U.S. law enforcement.

"[The U.S. has] an accusatory system," French justice minister Elisabeth Guigou said on France Info radio.  "We have a system that takes perhaps a little more time but which is, despite everything, more protective of individual rights."

Strauss-Kahn has been accused of the attempted rape of a maid in a $3,000-a-night New York hotel suite.  He will remain in jail until his hearing on Friday after a New York City judge deemed him a flight risk.

His attorneys have denied the seven counts against him, which included allegedly forcing the housekeeper to perform oral sex, and allegedly forcing her to submit to anal sex after allegedly taking her prisoner inside the luxury suite.

Some of Strauss-Kahn's allies in France have come to his defense.  His rush to leave the French-owned Sofitel hotel in midtown Manhattan was no attempt to flee the alleged crime scene but to honor previous plans to lunch with his daughter, according to comments in the New York Times attributed to Socialist politician Jean-Christophe Cambadélis Monday.

Others have expressed dismay at the widely seen photos of the handcuffed Strauss-Kahn being escorted by police.  It is illegal in France for the media to show images of a person accused of a crime before conviction, so the imagery of the IMF chief handcuffed gracing the covers of French newspapers has alarmed many there.

Meanwhile, the accusations alone against the once-likely presidential candidate -- a frontrunner, no less -- have been enough to rattle the country.

"A lot of politicians are known to have affairs and it doesn't scandalize people," ABC News correspondent Jeffrey Kofman told ABC News Radio Tuesday. "But this is something entirely different.  A sexual assault, a rape goes way beyond that and people are very upset.  They're quite horrified by that, by the prospect of this, these accusations being true.  And it takes it to another dimension."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio