- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 2, 2004

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Founding father dies in his 80s

ABU DHABI — Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahayan, the president and founding father of the United Arab Emirates, died yesterday in his late 80s. He had governed the seven-member federation since its birth in 1971 after Britain’s pullout from the Persian Gulf, and was loved by his people for using oil money to turn the desert country green.

UAE Deputy President Sheik Maktoum bin Rashed al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, has taken the reins during the transition. Sheik Zayed’s successor must be chosen within a month from among the rulers of the seven emirates — Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah and Um al-Qaiwain — for a five-year term.

Crown Prince Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan, eldest son of the deceased president, has succeeded his father as ruler of Abu Dhabi, which accounts for about 80 percent of UAE oil output. Sheik Muhammad bin Zayed al-Nahayan is now crown prince of Abu Dhabi.

IRAN

Khatami optimistic of EU nuclear backing

TEHRAN — President Mohammed Khatami said yesterday that he is optimistic that talks with the European Union will help solve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, which the Bush administration sees as a bid for atomic weapons.

“If the EU accepts our right to produce nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, we are ready to assure the world … we will not pursue nuclear weapons,” Mr. Khatami said. “I am optimistic.”

Meanwhile, diplomats in Vienna, Austria, said yesterday that the European Union no longer explicitly calls for an indefinite suspension of Iran’s uranium enrichment, possibly opening the door to a compromise. Iran says its nuclear ambitions do not go beyond a desire to produce electricity from atomic reactors, but its insistence on making its own nuclear fuel for the reactors had raised concerns.

JORDAN

Saddam’s family fires his attorney

AMMAN — Saddam Hussein’s family dismissed a prominent Jordanian lawyer who had led the ousted Iraqi dictator’s defense team, accusing him of seeking “personal gain and fame,” other members of the team said yesterday.

Saddam’s family told Mohammed al-Rashdan in late September that he was being relieved of his duties, “but he did not accept the wish” until yesterday, said Ziad al-Khasawneh, spokesman for the lawyers appointed by Saddam’s wife, Sajida.

Mr. al-Khasawneh told the Associated Press that Mr. al-Rashdan, appointed in January, handed over all relevant documents to Saddam’s Jordan-based defense team yesterday. The team consists of 20 lawyers and 1,500 volunteers.

“He has traveled to the United States without the knowledge of the defense team. He communicated with the special Iraqi tribunal in charge of President Saddam’s trial without our consensus, and he had differences with the family on defense procedures,” Mr. al-Khasawneh said.

Weekly notes

Yemeni border guards have foiled attempts to smuggle 50 children to Saudi Arabia since mid-October, a security source said yesterday. The source said the ages of the children, kidnapped for slavery or adoption, ranged from 8 to 16. As many as 50,000 people younger than 18 have been smuggled from Yemen this year. … Cairo journalist Abdel Halim Kandil, who has criticized Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, said yesterday that he was roughed up in the middle of the night while returning from the meal taken by Muslims during Ramadan before fasting during the day. His paper, Al-Arabi weekly, said the attackers told Mr. Kandil to “stop talking about important people.”

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