- The Washington Times - Friday, December 17, 2004

CUBA

Abuse display erected near U.S. mission

HAVANA — Cuba retaliated for the U.S. diplomatic mission’s Christmas display supporting Cuban dissidents by putting up a billboard yesterday emblazoned with photographs of American soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners and a huge swastika overlaid with a “Made in the U.S.A.” stamp.

The billboard, erected overnight facing the U.S. Interest Section’s offices, stands on the Malecon, Havana’s famed coastal highway.

The U.S. mission, headed by James Cason, rejected a demand this week to remove Christmas decorations that included a reference to dissidents jailed by Fidel Castro’s government. The trimmings included a Santa Claus, candy canes and white lights wrapped around palm trees — and a sign reading “75,” a reference to the 75 Cuban dissidents jailed last year.

CHINA

Law to oppose Taiwan secession

BEIJING — China plans to introduce a law against Taiwan’s secession from the mainland, state media said yesterday, in a move aimed at heading off a formal declaration of independence by the island.

China, which regards democratically run Taiwan as an inseparable part of the mainland which must eventually return to the fold — by force if necessary — has been alarmed by what it sees as creeping secession by Taiwan’s President Chen Shui-bian.

Beijing plans to submit the draft law for deliberation during a parliament session scheduled for Dec. 25-29, Xinhua news agency said.

IRAQ

Officer arraigned in killing of hurt Iraqi

BERLIN — An Army officer was arraigned yesterday on charges in connection with the killing of a critically wounded Iraqi who worked as a driver for the radical Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Capt. Rogelio Maynulet, 29, of Chicago, entered no plea as he was arraigned in Wiesbaden, Germany, on charges of assault with intent to murder and dereliction of duty, which carry a maximum combined sentence of 20½ years, said Maj. Michael Indovina.

SAUDI ARABIA

Security readied for more protests

RIYADH — Saudi security forces surrounded a Riyadh mosque and helicopters clattered overhead yesterday amid calls by a London-based Saudi dissident for demonstrations against the royal family, but worshippers dispersed peacefully after prayers.

It was the second day that the security forces clamped down and that Saudis failed to respond in large numbers to the call for protests by Saad al-Fagih, head of the Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia.

UNITED NATIONS

Listening devices found at headquarters

GENEVA — The United Nations’ European headquarters is probably riddled with listening devices, a U.N. security source said yesterday, a day after the organization disclosed it had found a secret microphone in a meeting room.

The chief U.N. spokeswoman in Geneva on Thursday confirmed a report by Swiss television TSR, which said workmen had found a sophisticated bugging device during recent renovation of the Salon Francais at the Palais des Nations.

The room was used by ministers from major powers in September 2003 during private talks on Iraq. A Geneva-based security expert said the device appeared to be of Russian or East European origin.

SUDAN

African Union warns of Darfur offensive

ABUJA, Nigeria — Astronomical quantities of arms and ammunition have poured into Sudan’s Darfur region in the last two weeks and the government is poised for a major military offensive, the African Union said yesterday.

The group issued a 24-hour deadline to the Sudanese government and Darfur rebels yesterday to end fighting. The United States, Britain and the United Nations weighed in with warnings to both sides.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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