- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 12, 2001

Russian commander cites Chechnya crimes

MOSCOW — In an unusual admission of responsibility, Russia's top military commander in Chechnya said yesterday that he regrets his troops' crimes against civilians in house-to-house searches for rebels, and a Kremlin official even suggested the raids would be stopped.

Gen. Vladimir Moltenskoi said troops that raided several Chechen villages last week committed "large-scale crimes" and "lawless acts," the Itar-Tass news agency reported.

Russian prosecutors have started a probe into allegations that soldiers beat and robbed Chechen civilians during the searches.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman for Chechnya, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, said the military would reconsider the wisdom of such sweeps.


Greek church rejects Israeli role in election

JERUSALEM — The Greek Orthodox Church accused Israel of meddling in the election of its patriarch in the Holy Land yesterday, after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government tried to disqualify five candidates.

In a letter signed by Israeli Justice Minister Meir Shetreet, five of the 15 candidates for election as the new patriarch were banned for reputed security reasons, said Metropolitan Isychios, a high Greek Orthodox official and one of the disqualified candidates.

The official said the church would ignore the Israeli objections and proceed with the elections, with all the candidates taking part. All the candidates are of Greek nationality, though most of church's followers in the region are Palestinian.


Irish talks halted amid bleak prospects

WESTON PARK, England — Northern Ireland peace talks were halted by the British and Irish governments yesterday with no sign of a breakthrough, but new efforts will be made tomorrow.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, standing side by side in an English country mansion where they have grilled Northern Ireland's party leaders since Monday, tried to strike a positive tone.

But there was little sign of progress in their efforts to get the pro-British and Irish nationalist politicians to agree on how to save their power-sharing government.


French court weighs extradition appeal

PARIS — A top judicial body was considering American fugitive Ira Einhorn's appeal of his extradition to the United States, where he has been convicted in the 1977 murder of his girlfriend.

The appeal to the Council of State, which rules on administrative decisions, represents Einhorn's last chance to fight his extradition under French law.


Powell steps up Mideast peace bid

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell urged an all-out effort yesterday to stop Middle East violence that has killed at least 478 Palestinians, 124 Israelis and 13 Israeli Arabs since September.

He called on Israelis not to take provocative steps, including demolishing Palestinian homes and expansion of Jewish settlements, and called on the Palestinians to do what they could to stop the violence on their side.

"This is a time for all sides to do everything they can to get the violence down, create conditions of calm so that there is every incentive to move forward starting the Mitchell plan," Mr. Powell told a news conference. The plan calls for a cease-fire and a halt to settlements.


Streets in Jamaica calm after tumult

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Tensions were high, but the streets of troubled West Kingston were relatively calm yesterday as soldiers patrolled the Jamaican capital after three days of violence that killed at least 23 persons.

Soldiers fanned out on foot, in tanks and in armored carriers. Sporadic gunfire was heard in Tivoli Gardens and Denham Town, residents said.

"Everything calm and peaceful today. I think it will settle down now," said Richard Hamilton, who emerged for the first time in days to hawk hardware in the streets of West Kingston.

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