No apology from Turkey's leader

ANKARA, Turkey - Turkey's prime minister yesterday said he would not join a group of Turkish intellectuals who issued an apology on the Internet for alleged World War I-era massacres of Armenians in Turkey.

"If there is a crime, then those who committed it can offer an apology. My nation, my country has no such issue," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. "I personally do not support this campaign."

The Turkish prime minister's reaction, echoed by nationalists and even members of opposition parties, was a setback for the intellectuals' hopes to nurture reconciliation by shattering a taboo against acknowledging Turkish culpability for the deaths.

Several Turkish diplomats and lawmakers have condemned the apology, and hundreds of Turks joined groups that popped up on Facebook with such titles as "I am not apologizing."

- AP

Protest banners hung on Acropolis

ATHENS, Greece - Heaping new embarrassment on a government reeling from days of rioting, protesters hung giant banners off Greece's most famous monument, the Acropolis, yesterday, calling for mass demonstrations across Europe.

The two pink banners were unfurled over the walls of the ancient citadel, which towers above central Athens, and they could be seen for miles around. One bore the word

Resistance

in large black letters in Greek, English, Spanish and German.

The other called for demonstrations throughout the continent today, when students plan major marches in Athens and Greece's second-largest city, Thessaloniki, to protest the death of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos, killed in a police shooting on Dec. 6.

"This hurts the image of our country abroad. . . . It is unacceptable," government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said.

- AP

Nations reject U.N. on Somalia

UNITED NATIONS - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said yesterday that there was almost no international support for sending a peacekeeping force to Somalia, as proposed by the United States, to take over from an ineffective mission sent by the 53-nation African Union.

Speaking at a year-end news conference, Ban said that over the last four months, he had asked at least 50 nations and three international organizations to support the Security Council's request for a multinational force to stabilize Somalia, and "not one nation has volunteered to lead."

The Bush administration says it fears that lawless Somalia could be a terrorist breeding ground.

It accuses a Somali Islamic militant group known as al-Shabab - "The Youth" - of harboring al-Qaeda-linked terrorists allegedly responsible for bombings at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

- AP

Elsewhere:

An alleged Mafia boss

who was caught on wiretaps purportedly discussing Cosa Nostra's new hierarchy hanged himself in a Palermo jail hours after his arrest, Italian police said yesterday. State radio said Gaetano Lo Presti, 52, used his belt.