- The Washington Times - Monday, May 31, 2004

IRAQ

Palestinian envoys freed from Abu Ghraib

BAGHDAD — Two Palestinian diplomats have been released from a year in U.S. custody in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison.

Najah Abdel Rahman, 53, then-Palestinian charge d’affaires, and commercial attache Mounir Soubhi, in his mid-40s, were held in Abu Ghraib prison for suspected illegal possession of weapons and suspicion of links to terrorism, said Dalil al-Qusous, the current charge d’affaires, who met the two at the prison.

The United States said at the time that all diplomats lost immunity after the fall of Saddam Hussein and that they did not recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization as the representative of a sovereign state.

ISRAEL

Rabin assassin denied conjugal visits

TEL AVIV — A request to marry by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s imprisoned assassin ran into a stumbling block yesterday when an Israeli court denied him conjugal visits at the isolation cell where he is locked away for life.

The Tel Aviv District Court said that while in principle Yigal Amir could still wed, consummation away from 24-hour surveillance cameras would enable him to give his bride political messages intended for supporters in Israel.

The decision could effectively rule out a wedding as the Prisons Service, acting on its chief rabbi’s recommendations, has made the marriage conditional on consummation of the union in accordance with ritual Jewish law.

TURKEY

Suspects detained in McDonald’s blast

ISTANBUL — Turkish authorities were questioning four far-left suspects in connection with a car bombing at a McDonald’s restaurant in Istanbul this month, the state-run Anatolian news agency said yesterday.

The incident on May 21, in which no one was killed or hurt, highlighted security concerns in Istanbul, which next month will host a NATO summit of world leaders, including President Bush.

Police detained eight suspected militants belonging to the small Maoist group Turkish Workers’ and Peasants’ Liberation Army. Four were released after questioning, while a security court was holding the others.

BRITAIN

Iraq troop decision due within weeks

LONDON — Britain will decide within weeks whether to send more troops to Iraq, Prime Minister Tony Blair said yesterday.

Mr. Blair denied a decision on sending what the press speculates will be a 3,000-strong force was being put off because of potential political losses in a June 10 ballot for the European Parliament.

“It’s not being delayed because of the elections at all. It’s simply to make sure you get this decision right,” Mr. Blair told BBC Television, adding a decision would come “probably some time in the next few weeks.”

SOMALIA

Factional clashes kill more than 100

MOGADISHU — At least 22 persons were killed in fighting around Somalia’s main port on Saturday, witnesses said yesterday, taking the death toll to more than 100 in the latest bout of factional clashes.

Fighting has raged for several days near the private El Maan port 22 miles north of the capital, Mogadishu, and local radio reports said thousands of people had been forced to leave their homes.

The heaviest fighting was seen Saturday as factions loyal to leading warlord Muse Sudi Yalahow and businessman Bashir Raghe battled for control of the port area and a nearby hotel.

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