- The Washington Times - Friday, May 13, 2005

NORTH KOREA

Pyongyang calls for talks with Seoul

SEOUL — North Korea today proposed the resumption of inter-Korean dialogue, calling for a working-level contact early next week in the North Korean border town of Kaesong, Pyongyang said.

The proposal was contained in a message sent by North Korea’s chief delegate to the inter-Korean high-level talks, senior Cabinet councilor Kwon Ho Ung, to his South Korean counterpart, Unification Minister Chung Dong-young.

?We have the pleasure to notify you that we will send three delegates and three suite members to Kaesong from May 16 to 17 for the working-level talks,? Mr. Kwon was quoted as saying in the message.

BRITAIN

Saddam to pen memoirs from jail

LONDON — Ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has decided to write his memoirs from an Iraqi jail where he is awaiting trial for more than 20 years of abuses, a British newspaper reported, quoting one of his lawyers.

Giovanni di Stefano, a member of Saddam’s legal team, said the former dictator decided in recent weeks to start writing about his childhood in Iraq, his early exile to Egypt and his military adventures in Iran and Kuwait, the Financial Times reported.

He will try to embarrass the great powers that once saw him as a useful buffer against the expansionist ambitions of Iran after the 1979 Islamic revolution, Mr. di Stefano was quoted as saying.

EGYPT

Judges to boycott vote supervision

CAIRO — Egyptian judges, long stripped of their independence by President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, voted yesterday to refuse to supervise an upcoming referendum and presidential election.

Judges have the role of supervising elections, checking the count and candidate lists and monitoring at polling stations. A boycott by the judges would undermine the credibility of what the government has touted as a major democratic step: the opening of the September elections to multiple candidates.

While the judges met, hundreds of pro-government and opposition protesters faced off nearby.

MAURITANIA

Mosques searched for Islamist rebels

NOUAKCHOTT — Authorities in Mauritania have searched mosques in the capital Nouakchott in a clampdown on Islamist opponents, seizing Koranic texts and arresting mosque officials, opposition sources and witnesses said yesterday.

The crackdown in the West African country, which straddles black and Arab Africa, comes after the authorities said al Qaeda was recruiting and training young Mauritanians to fight alongside insurgents in Iraq.

RUSSIA

Duma criticizes Georgia on bases

MOSCOW — Moscow should effectively cut diplomatic ties with Georgia if its ex-Soviet neighbor blockades Russian army bases in the country, the State Duma, lower house of parliament, said yesterday.

The presence of the bases, which Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili likens to an occupation, have soured relations for years, and the Georgian parliament has urged him to blockade them if no agreement on withdrawal is reached by tomorrow.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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