- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 20, 2004

ISRAEL

Metal foundry hit in Gaza

GAZA CITY — Israeli helicopter gunships destroyed a metal foundry in Gaza late yesterday, one day after a similar air strike against what the army said were weapons workshops used by Palestinian militants.

Palestinian witnesses said one person was injured in the attack, which occurred in a crowded residential area of the Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. The witnesses said the workshop was destroyed.

An Israeli army spokesman said Hamas and other militant groups had used the foundry to produce rockets and other munitions to use against Israeli towns.

BELGIUM

Briton withdraws from EC race

BRUSSELS — Briton Chris Patten, external-affairs commissioner of the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, withdrew from the race to become EC president, after the bloc’s leaders failed to resolve a bitter row over potential candidates.

The other front-runner, Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, also took himself out of the race Friday night after unyielding opposition from Britain and other member states that dislike his federalist vision of EU integration.

INDIA

Nuclear neighbors discuss risk reduction

NEW DELHI — India and Pakistan opened negotiations yesterday to reduce the risk of an accidental nuclear conflict, six years after the neighboring rivals conducted atomic tests and raised fears of a South Asian conflagration.

Experts from both sides focused on a ban on further tests and preventing the accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons, an Indian official said. The talks are only the first stage in the nuclear dialogue.

NEPAL

18 killed as Maoists ambush police truck

KATMANDU — Maoist rebels ambushed a police truck with a bomb and gunfire yesterday, also hitting a nearby passenger bus in an attack that killed 14 police officers and four civilians, including at least one child.

At least 27 persons were wounded in the attack in the village of Dhankhola, about 250 miles southwest of the capital, Katmandu.

EGYPT

Mubarak to have surgery in Germany

CAIRO — Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, 76, will go to Germany today to have an operation for a slipped disc, an official source said yesterday, as rumors persist about his health.

Health Minister Mohamed Awad Afifi Tag el-Din said the surgery scheduled for tomorrow was a simple operation to remove displaced cartilage by inserting a microscopic endoscope.

BRITAIN

Simon Wiesenthal gets knighthood

LONDON — Britain has awarded an honorary knighthood to Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal for a “lifetime of service to humanity” by helping bring Holocaust perpetrators to justice, the Foreign Office said yesterday.

Mr. Wiesenthal, 95, spent most of five decades tracking down more than 1,000 Nazi war criminals responsible for the mass murder of Jews in World War II and played a role in the capture of one of Adolf Hitler’s henchmen, Adolf Eichmann, in 1960.

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