- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 30, 2004

IRAN

Firms sanctioned for weapons sales

The United States penalized seven Chinese companies for selling unconventional weapons and missile technology to Iran, the State Department said yesterday.

Sanctions also were imposed against two Indian companies and one each in Belarus, North Korea, Russia, Spain and Ukraine, said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, adding that the penalties apply to the companies, not their countries or governments.

As a result of the penalties, the U.S. government cannot proceed with transactions with these companies or issue any new licenses and must suspend licenses that have been issued for high-technology items controlled by the United States.

SYRIA

Agreement reached to seal Iraq border

Syria has agreed in talks to take “specific steps” to seal off its border with Iraq for anti-U.S. insurgents, a U.S. official said yesterday.

In Damascus, a source close to the two-day talks with U.S. and Iraqi officials said the sides discussed forming joint patrols to monitor the border, but it was not clear whether that was part of the deal.

“The Syrians did agree to take specific actions in coordination with Iraqi and multinational forces. These steps are designed to close Syria’s border to individuals seeking to foment violence and destabilize Iraq,” said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.

IRAQ

Vatican says Iraq war didn’t bring safely

NEW YORK — The Vatican, in its first speech to the U.N. General Assembly, called yesterday for a total ban on human cloning and criticized the war in Iraq and unilateral responses to terrorism.

“Everyone can see that [military action] did not lead to a safer world, either inside or outside Iraq,” said Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary of the Holy See’s relations with states.

SAUDI ARABIA

Top religious leader bans camera phones

RIYADH — Saudi Arabia’s highest religious authority has issued an edict barring the use of cell phones with built-in cameras, blaming them for “spreading obscenity.”

Sheik Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Al al-Sheik, the kingdom’s top religious authority, announced the religious edict in remarks published yesterday by the daily al-Madina, saying the phones “can harm everybody without discrimination.”

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