- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 4, 2004

IRAN

Enriching uranium a ‘legitimate right’

TEHRAN — Iran’s foreign minister said yesterday the [R]Islamic republic has a “legitimate right” to enrich uranium, the most sensitive part of the nuclear fuel cycle that the country is under pressure to abandon.

“We will never allow the enemy to trample upon our legitimate rights enshrined in the international conventions,” the Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Kamal Kharazi as saying.

The European Union’s “big three” — Britain, France and Germany — have been pressing Iran to cease working on the nuclear fuel cycle in exchange for increased trade and cooperation and the guaranteed supply of nuclear fuel from abroad.

AFGHANISTAN

Defense minister backs Karzai rival

KABUL — Afghanistan’s defense minister yesterday backed a rival to President Hamid Karzai in the country’s upcoming elections, and insisted that he would not use violence to hang on to office.

Mr. Karzai last week dropped Muhammad Fahim, a militia leader who also serves as deputy head of state, from his ticket for the Oct. 9 presidential vote.

In his first public reaction, Mr. Fahim said the decision was a “mistake.”

Gunmen, meanwhile, fired on a car carrying two Afghans from the German relief agency Malteser in Paktia, killing both.

SRI LANKA

Ruling coalition leader quits

COLOMBO — Sri Lanka’s president quit as leader of the ruling alliance yesterday as confusion grew over the government’s stance on long-stalled peace talks with Tamil Tiger rebels.

The resignation by Chandrika Kumaratunga, which does not affect her role as president, comes after state media said she backtracked on her offer to hold peace talks on the rebels’ terms. She said the reports were wrong.

Mrs. Kumaratunga told Norwegian envoy Vidar Helgesen last week that she would hold talks on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’s proposal for interim self-rule, meeting their demand to restart the peace process.

CHINA

Child slain in school attack

BEIJING — A school employee with a history of schizophrenia slashed 15 students and three teachers with a kitchen knife yesterday at a Beijing kindergarten, killing one child and leaving terrified classmates covered in blood, police and press reports said.

Two children suffered serious injuries in the attack at the school run by the No. 1 Hospital of elite Peking University.

BRITAIN

Storm kills boy, unleashes sewage

LONDON — A 14-year-old boy was killed in a lightning strike during sudden thunderstorms that sent 600,000 tons of raw sewage into the Thames, killing thousands of fish, officials said yesterday.

Separate lightning strikes also injured four 15-year-old girls in Hyde Park as heavy rains caused flooding and transportation headaches.

ISRAEL

No party for Arafat[R] on 75th birthday

JERUSALEM — Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat turned 75 yesterday, but there were no birthday parties or parades.

Mr. Arafat spent the day as usual, hunkered down behind sandbags in the shell-pocked compound where he lives and works in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Aides said a few Palestinian officials brought him flowers, but no festivities were planned.

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