- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 12, 2004

CYPRUS

Denktash offers new merger proposal

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has raised the stakes in Cyprus reunification talks by proposing a tight timetable that would allow a reunited island to join the European Union on May 1, officials said.

Mr. Denktash handed the proposal to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan during talks with the Greek Cypriots in New York on Wednesday aimed at laying the groundwork for a deal.

His move appeared to surprise the Greek Cypriots, whose mentor, Greece, said it was weighing the proposal.

ISRAEL

World Court snubbed on barrier case

JERUSALEM — Israel won’t attend World Court hearings on the West Bank security barrier, saying yesterday that the judges don’t have the authority to rule on the case.

Israel, however, won’t remain entirely on the sidelines in the closely watched case, which begins Feb. 23 in The Hague. The Foreign Ministry is dispatching representatives, hundreds of Israeli demonstrators plan to fly in, and an Israeli rescue service is sending the skeleton of a Jerusalem bus mangled in a Palestinian suicide bombing.

Israel says it needs the barrier to keep out Palestinian attackers.

BRITAIN

‘Excessive’ force by Israel criticized

LONDON — British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told visiting Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz yesterday that he was concerned about Israel’s “excessive use of force” in the occupied territories.

Mr. Straw “raised concerns about the issue of the Israeli defense force’s tactics in the occupied territories,” a Foreign Office spokeswoman said.

HAITI

Aristide supporters block opposition rally

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Militant supporters of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide poured into the streets and threw up barricades yesterday to prevent the opposition’s first big political rally since an armed revolt erupted a week ago.

Aristide supporters blocked all roads to the main plaza in the capital, Port-au-Prince, where the rally was to be held, manning barricades of broken furniture, burned-out cars and scrap metal.

MEXICO

U.S., Britain queried on report of spying

MEXICO CITY — Mexico has asked the United States and Britain to respond to a British news report that they spied on the Mexican mission at the United Nations in the run-up to the Iraq war last year, a government source said.

Britain’s Observer newspaper said Sunday that the country helped the United States spy against U.N. Security Council “swing nations” who were influential in deciding whether to vote for military action against Iraq.

CONGO

Kenyan peacekeeper killed in north

KIGALI, Rwanda — A Kenyan from the U.N. peacekeeping force was killed in northeastern Congo yesterday when his team came under fire after investigating reports that civilians were being harassed, the United Nations said.

The team had been dispatched to the Katoto region near the town of Bunia, the headquarters for the U.N. force in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ituri region, to investigate reports of harassment of civilians.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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