World and Nation

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Candidates in France Focus on Centrist Voters

The French presidential race is on — for the vote of the center.

The campaign entered a new phase on Monday, as the winners of the first round, Nicolas Sarkozy on the right and Segolene Royal on the left, began a battle for the 6.8 million voters who chose the path down the middle.

Taken together, the two winners scooped up 57 percent of the vote in the first round on Sunday. But Francois Bayrou, the parliamentary deputy and farmer who heads the centrist Union for French Democracy, came in a strong third with more than 18 percent of the vote, and those votes are up for grabs.

"The voters of the center control the election," said Stephane Rozes, a director of the CSA polling institute. "The challenge is not knowing where they will go."

At a rally in the city of Dijon, in eastern France, on Monday, Sarkozy set aside his law-and-order persona and portrayed himself as "the candidate of openness" whose message was for "all the French people."

"Openness of spirit is being able to take into consideration the positions of others, the ability to think that others might be right," he said.

China Yields to Inquiry On Pet Food

China on Monday gave American regulators permission to enter the country to investigate whether Chinese suppliers exported contaminated pet food ingredients to the United States earlier this year, leading to one of the largest pet food recalls in American history.

Representatives of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had been blocked from entering China, despite growing evidence that the tainted pet food that killed at least 16 cats and dogs and sickened thousands of other animals in the United States originated with Chinese exporters of wheat gluten and other animal feed ingredients.

The FDA confirmed Monday that it has now opened a criminal investigation into the pet food scandal, but the agency did not name the target or say whether any American companies may have intentionally laced animal feed with banned ingredients. On Tuesday, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce is scheduled to hold hearings on how to secure the safety of the country's food supply.

Last Thursday, the FDA expanded its already large pet food recall after it found more evidence that an industrial chemical called melamine had contaminated the supplies of additional pet food makers, including Royal Canin US and C.J. Foods.

The agency, which has already recalled over 60 million packages of pet food, is also investigating imports of rice protein from China.