- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 18, 2004

NORWAY

Iraqi terror group founder released

OSLO — Police released the founder of Iraqi terror group Ansar al-Islam late yesterday after the economic crimes division said it had “new information” that made it unable to hold him. Mullah Krekar, a refugee in Norway since fleeing Saddam Hussein’s regime in 1991, was arrested at his home in Oslo on Jan. 2 and ordered held for investigation on a variety of charges, including conspiracy in the attempted murders of political rivals in northern Iraq.

AFGHANISTAN

Official says security inadequate for vote

KABUL — A top Afghan official warned yesterday that security must improve in lawless regions of the south and east of the country before elections can proceed in June as planned. The comments by Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah came as visiting Pentagon budget chief Dov Zakheim said that up to 1,500 soldiers had left the Afghan army.

NETHERLANDS

Lawmakers back plan to expel aliens

THE HAGUE — The Dutch lower house of parliament approved plans yesterday to expel up to 26,000 failed asylum seekers in a move that won praise from the far right but sparked protests and threats of hunger strikes. The plans, which still have to be endorsed by parliament’s upper house, would force the failed applicants, many of whom have lived in the Netherlands for years, to leave over three years, while some 2,300 others would be granted amnesty.

SAUDI ARABIA

Officials discuss barrier with Yemen

RIYADH — Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh met Saudi King Fahd and de facto ruler Crown Prince Abdullah in Riyadh yesterday in a bid to resolve tensions over a barrier being built by Saudi Arabia. The barrier, being constructed on the common border, is aimed at curbing a flow of weapons fueling violence. Saudi Arabia says much of the arsenal used in suicide bombings in the kingdom last year is believed to have been spirited across the Yemeni border. Yemen says the barrier violates a 2000 border accord that set up a 13-mile demilitarized zone on its borders.

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