- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 19, 2005

ITALY

Berlusconi refuses to quit in crisis

ROME — Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi yesterday defied predictions that he would quit as head of his weakened center-right government, prompting opposition charges that he was turning Italian politics into a joke.

Mr. Berlusconi’s meeting with President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi — to whom he would have to submit his resignation — topped a day of intense talks as the media magnate tries to find a way out of the worst political crisis of his four years in power.

When asked by reporters whether he had submitted his resignation, Mr. Berlusconi responded, “No.”

IRAN

Al Jazeera banned after protests

TEHRAN — Iran suspended the nationwide operations of Arab TV broadcaster Al Jazeera yesterday, accusing it of inflaming violent protests by the Arab minority in its southwest, state-run television reported.

Also, the government said two more protesters died in the unrest in Mahshahr in Khuzistan province along the border with Iraq, raising the three-day toll to three dead and at least eight injured.

CANADA

Adviser to Annan admits oil-for-food tie

NEW YORK — Maurice Strong, a prominent Canadian businessman and envoy for U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, acknowledged ties yesterday with a South Korean businessman accused of wrongdoing in the oil-for-food scandal.

Mr. Strong, Mr. Annan’s special adviser for North Korea, said in a statement that Tongsun Park invested in an energy company with which he was associated in 1997, but denied any wrongdoing.

The U.S. government last week charged Mr. Park with accepting millions of dollars as an unregistered agent for the Iraqi government while he operated in the United States.

AFGHANISTAN

Taliban start radio station

KABUL — Afghanistan’s ousted Taliban regime has started a pirate radio station that pumps out broadsides against the U.S.-backed government of President Hamid Karzai, officials and reports said yesterday.

Operating from a mobile transmitter to avoid being shut down by U.S. and Afghan forces, Voice of Shariah, or Islamic law, apparently uses the same name as the Taliban’s radio station during the militia’s 1996-2001 rule.

It can be heard across provinces in southern Afghanistan.

ANGOLA

Marburg outbreak seen under control

UIGE — Angolan officials think the world’s worst Marburg epidemic is coming under control in the north of the country where the war-shattered infrastructure has limited the spread of the virus.

More than 200 people have been killed in the outbreak of the Ebola-like disease, which causes death through massive bleeding.

International health workers in Uige have not confirmed that the outbreak is under control.

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