- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 12, 2003

IRAN

Top ayatollah warns reform demonstrators

TEHRAN — Iran’s supreme leader raised the possibility of a harsh crackdown yesterday after two days of pro-reform demonstrations during which hundreds of increasingly bold young people have gone so far as to call for his death.

The last two days have seen the largest demonstrations against Iran’s political leadership in six months.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a speech broadcast on state television and radio, accused the United States of stirring trouble in the country after anti-regime protesters defied threats of a crackdown and took to the streets for a second night running.

IRAQ

Priceless vase returned to museum

BAGHDAD — The sacred Vase of Warka — one of the most valuable artifacts of the Iraqi National Museum collection, feared lost forever — was returned unceremoniously yesterday in the trunk of a car.

The 5,000-year-old white limestone vase, the world’s oldest carved-stone ritual vessel, was handed over with other looted items, U.S.-led coalition forces said in a statement. Three men gave the pieces to security staff at the central Baghdad museum, a gesture that could reassure archaeologists worried about Iraq’s ancient treasures.

The vase, still pictured on the Interpol Web site of missing artworks, is a major Mesopotamian artifact widely studied in art history and archaeology. It depicts Sumerians offering gifts to the goddess Innin as well as scenes of daily life in the ancient city of Uruk. It was carved about the time the city’s Sumerians were inventing writing.

ZIMBABWEMugabe foe seeks bail in treason trial

HARARE — Attorneys for jailed Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai urged a judge yesterday to free him on bail, saying treason charges were being used to silence President Robert Mugabe’s chief political foe.

Mr. Tsvangirai was arrested last Friday after five days of protests and work boycotts organized by his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) that paralyzed the country.

Mr. Mugabe, who has accused former colonial power Britain of backing the protests, threatened yesterday to expel London’s envoy in Harare.

At Mr. Tsvangirai’s bail hearing, dozens of MDC supporters stood in solidarity as he entered the courtroom, his fourth court appearance since he was detained.

TURKEY

NATO allies slam trafficking charge

ANKARA — Greece and Turkey slammed as unjustified yesterday their inclusion on a U.S. blacklist of countries that could face sanctions for failing to fight human trafficking.

The two countries, both key U.S. allies in NATO, were indignant at being named on a list of 15 nations issued by the State Department that risk losing aid from Washington if they do not make significant efforts to crack down on trade in women and children.

“The picture given in this report does not correspond to reality,” said Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.

The list also includes Belize, Bosnia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Georgia, Haiti, Kazakhstan, Liberia, Burma, North Korea, Sudan, Suriname and Uzbekistan.

Compiled from wire and staff reports

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