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Briefs (left)

Lebanon’s President Facing
Pressure to Resign

By Hassan M. Fattah

Pressure has been mounting in recent days for the resignation of President Emile Lahoud, who has clung to office even as his Syrian backers have been forced to withdraw from the country.

Lebanon’s recently elected prime minister and his Cabinet are avoiding Lahoud, and his influence is hard to detect in most government offices.

He keeps a low profile, rarely making public appearances or giving interviews. But as hard as he may try to remain out of sight, he has been on many minds here in recent days, as Lebanese have taken to predicting his imminent political demise.

Things appeared to come crashing down on Lahoud last week, when four senior security men, including his current head of security, Mustafa Hamdan, were cited as suspects by a U.N. investigation into the assassination of a former prime minister, Rafik Hariri.

“It is all but sure now that he will have to step down — the question is when,” said Fares Boueiz, a lawyer who is a former minister of foreign affairs and the environment. “The man is no longer able to rule the country, and I don’t think this can last another two months.”

Deal Reached on Shipments
Of Clothes From China

By Chris Buckley

China and the EU agreed on Monday to end their dispute over Chinese-made clothes marooned on European docks, as both sides sought to use a high-level meeting in Beijing to stress broader cooperation.

Europe’s trade commissioner, Peter Mandelson, and China’s commerce minister, Bo Xilai, reached the agreement after two days of negotiations about how to handle some 400 million euros ($501 million) of Chinese sweaters, shirts, trousers and bras that a June quota agreement threatened to keep off the shelves of European retailers.

The two officials signed a preliminary agreement on Monday night, and if the deal is approved by European countries, it will unblock the stalled shipments.

“They will sign an agreement that is fair and acceptable to both sides, and will benefit both consumers and businesses,” the Chinese prime minister, Wen Jiabao, said at a news conference attended by the British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. Blair said he was confident that the EU would approve the proposed agreement.

Experts Find Reduced
Effects of Chernobyl

By Elisabeth Rosenthal

Nearly 20 years after the huge accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, a new scientific report has found that its aftereffects on health and the environment have not proved as dire as scientists had predicted.

The report was prepared by a panel of more than 100 experts convened by U.N. agencies.

It says huge compensation programs for people in the Chernobyl region have become “a major barrier to the region’s recovery,” both by creating a culture of dependency and by soaking up a high percentage of the region’s resources. It recommends that the compensation programs be cut back.

The report, “Chernobyl’s Legacy: Health, Environmental and Socio-Economic Impacts,” says 4,000 deaths will probably be attributable to the accident ultimately — compared with the tens of thousands predicted at the time of the accident.