- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 12, 2005

PAKISTAN

Man jailed in bid on Musharraf flees

KARACHI— An Islamic militant detained for an assassination attempt on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf escaped by smashing a bathroom window at his military detention center before morning prayers, security sources said yesterday.

The jailbreak occurred several weeks ago. Pakistani authorities, embarrassed by the incident, had kept the security lapse secret.

Mushtaq Ahmed had been sentenced to death in late November for his role in the plot to kill Gen. Musharraf, a security official said. Guards at an air force detention center in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, where Ahmed was being held, have been detained for questioning.

Information Minister Sheik Rashid Ahmed confined himself to a terse statement, saying a nationwide search was under way for the runaway prisoner.

NORTH KOREA

Lantos optimistic about six-party talks

BEIJING — A senior U.S. congressman has urged leaders of North Korea to re-engage in six-party discussions on its nuclear programs and ended a visit saying yesterday he was optimistic that Pyongyang was ready to talk.

Rep. Tom Lantos, California Democrat and the ranking member on the House International Relations Committee, was the first member of Congress to visit the reclusive state since May 2003 and since the White House stopped lawmakers from visiting North Korea last year.

North Korean officials told Mr. Lantos they supported continuing the talks, but were waiting to see the shape of the second administration of President Bush before making a commitment, restating the North’s position since Mr. Bush was re-elected in early November.

FRANCE

Vietnamese monk returns from exile

PARIS — Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, who has built an international following during 38 years in exile, left France yesterday to return to his home country for the first time since 1967.

Thich Nhat Hanh hailed the Vietnamese government’s “effort at opening up” before boarding an Air France flight from Paris to Hanoi.

ISRAEL

Sharon calls Abbas with congratulations

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon telephoned Mahmoud Abbas yesterday to congratulate him for winning the Palestinian presidential elections, the latest sign the two sides are eager to restart peace efforts after years of stalemate.

Since Mr. Abbas’ landslide victory Sunday, Israel and the Palestinians have signaled their readiness to return to the negotiating table. The election and the formation of a new Israeli government that includes the dovish Labor Party have raised hopes worldwide that talks might resume soon.

The phone call yesterday, confirmed by Israeli and Palestinian officials, was the first direct contact between the two leaders since the election.

CANADA

Buddhist temple sold for tsunami aid

BURNABY, British Columbia — A small Buddhist congregation has sold one of its temples to raise money for victims of the Asian tsunami.

Abbot Thick Nguyen handed the Canadian Red Cross a check Monday for $405,000, representing the entire proceeds from the sale of the Vietnamese Buddhist Congregation’s temple in Mission, east of Vancouver.

The group still has its main temple in the suburbs of Vancouver. A Vancouver-area Tibetan Buddhist group purchased the temple.

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