- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 22, 2004

GERMANY

Bush to pay visit in late February

BERLIN — President Bush will visit Germany on Feb. 23 for the first time after three years of frosty relations, a move welcomed by the government in Berlin as a sign of improving trans-Atlantic ties.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s spokesman Bela Anda confirmed yesterday that Mr. Bush would travel to Germany, which had been a close ally of Washington before relations ruptured over the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq last year.

Mr. Bush’s trip to Europe at the start of his second term is designed to mend breaches that opened up over the Iraq war. Mr. Schroeder was a leading voice in Europe against the war.

ISRAEL

Blair in Tel Aviv to push peace process

TEL AVIV — British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived in Israel yesterday for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on reviving the Middle East peace process after the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Mr. Blair, who wants to host a Middle East conference in London in February, arrived in Tel Aviv after paying a surprise visit to Iraq in a bid to boost prospects for the country’s parliamentary elections next month.

He was scheduled to meet Prime Minister Ariel Sharon today in Jerusalem and hold talks in the West Bank city of Ramallah with interim Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, the front-runner in the Jan. 9 election to choose Mr. Arafat’s successor.

BAHRAIN

Sunni Gulf Arabs urge inclusive Iraqi vote

MANAMA — Sunni Muslim Arab states in the Persian Gulf, worried by the rising power of Shi’ite Muslims in Iraq, urged the United States yesterday to ensure all religious and ethnic groups take part in the elections next month, which Shi’ite parties appear poised to win.

At the close of a two-day summit, the six pro-Western oil states also condemned foreign meddling in Iraq, a veiled reference to Iran, a Shi’ite-dominated state accused of trying to influence Iraqi groups.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain fear that their own Shi’ite populations could demand a bigger political say if Iraq’s Jan. 30 elections hand power to the majority Shi’ites.

PAKISTAN

Bhutto’s husband held in judge’s slaying

RAWALPINDI — Police yesterday arrested the husband of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in the killing of a judge and his son in 1996, taking him back into custody just a month after he had been freed on bail, lawyers and officials said.

Asif Ali Zardari was detained at an airport near the capital, Islamabad, after arriving on a flight from Karachi to address a major opposition rally, said Nafees Siddiqi, a lawyer and opposition member who accompanied him.

About 1,000 opposition supporters clashed with police before Mr. Zardari arrived.

INDIA

Military test-fires new cruise missile

NEW DELHI — India yesterday successfully tested a surface-to-surface version of its supersonic cruise missile being developed jointly with Russia, the Defense Ministry said.

The missile hit the target during the test conducted in the western desert state of Rajasthan. The Brahmos missile has a range of 180 miles and carries a conventional warhead of up to 660 pounds.

Pakistan earlier this month test-fired a nuclear-capable, surface-to-surface ballistic missile capable of hitting targets deep inside archrival India.

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