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First female president for Argentina

2006-07-01 11:36

  Maria Estela Isabel Martinez de Peron has been sworn in as interim leader of the Argentine Republic.

  Her husband President Juan Peron delegated responsibility after doctors said he required 24-hour medical attention and rest.

  Mrs Peron, a former cabaret dancer, is now Argentina's first female president and at 43 the youngest Latin American head of state.

  Her 78-year-old husband has not been seen in public for two weeks and is reported to be seriously ill with bronchitis and influenza.

  In a state broadcast, Mrs Peron said her husband was "conscious that his state of health prevents him from directly attending to government affairs until his recovery".

  Mrs Peron, known to the Argentine public as 'Isabelita', is Juan Peron's third wife and became vice-president after his return to power in September 1973.

  The couple met in a night club in Panama during Juan Peron's years of exile after being ousted from power in a military coup in 1955.

  Argentina's main power groups, including the armed forces and labour unions, are understood to have pledged Mrs Peron their support.

  But regional experts say Isabelita will be inheriting a weak economy in a country suffering from political violence and civil unrest.

  There are more link-ups planned between Mir and the shuttle

  1970: King Hussein escapes killer's bullet

  Artificially 1969:

  The American and Russian spacecraft have successfully docked in orbit for the first time in 20 years.

  The US shuttle Atlantis delivered a relief crew of two cosmonauts to the Russian Mir space station, signalling a new era of space co-operation between the two former Cold War rivals.

  The operation to link the craft was led by the commander of the Atlantis, Robert Gibson. Flying over the Mediterranean at 17,500mph, he lined up the Mir in his sights and with barely a shudder the two craft touched.

  "We have capture," he said.

  After the safety of the spacecraft was confirmed with the pressure between them equalised, Gibson opened the hatch separating them.

  Propelling himself through to the Russian craft he stretched out his arm to shake hands with his counterpart.

  "It seems hard to believe we're actually there. Atlantis." commander Robert Gibson said.

  The symbolic gesture was watched live from Moscow by US Vice President Al Gore, and by the head of NASA Dan Goldin at the Russian control centre.

  The crew of the US shuttle moved into the Mir for group photos, before presenting the cosmonauts with gifts of chocolate, fruit and flowers. The Russians gave the Americans gifts of bread and salt, the traditional symbols of welcome.

  Mr Gibson said: "After all the training and the preparation it seems hard to believe we're actually there but indeed we are."

  The two spacecraft will remain attached for five days, giving the Mir crew time to stock up on fresh water, oxygen and nitrogen. The crews will carry out a range of scientific experiments.

  A further six link-ups between the shuttle and Mir are planned, before work on the assembly of an international space station begins in orbit in two years' time.

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