- The Washington Times - Friday, May 20, 2005

PAKISTAN

Palestinian chief calls on Musharraf

ISLAMABAD — Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said after talks with Pervez Musharraf on Thursday that the Pakistani president could play an important role in the quest for Middle East peace.

“President Musharraf can play a very significant and effective role in resolving the Palestinian question, as he is an acknowledged world leader who enjoys great respect for his vision and policies,” Mr. Abbas was quoted by Pakistani state media as saying Thursday.

“We hope that President Musharraf will put his political weight behind efforts for a just resolution of the lingering dispute,” he said, according to the official Associated Press of Pakistan. Information Minister Sheikh Rashid told Agence France-Presse that talks between Mr. Abbas and Gen. Musharraf had been very “fruitful.”

Pakistan has offered to mediate in the Middle East conflict, although Islamabad has no diplomatic relations with Israel.

BURMA

U.S. denies role in Rangoon bombing

BANGKOK — The United States Embassy in Thailand dismissed as “nonsense” two days ago an assertion by the military junta that the Washington played a key role in bombings that killed 19 persons in the Burmese capital this month.

Burmese officials said last Sunday that the people who attacked Rangoon on May 7 were trained and financed “by a world-famous organization of a certain superpower nation” — an apparent reference to Washington and the CIA.

“This suggestion is nonsense,” a U.S. Embassy official here in Thailand’s capital told Reuters. “We condemn all violence such as this. They are cowardly and senseless acts,” the official added.

Weekly notes

The time is ripe for a deal between Pakistan and India on Kashmir and the two countries should seize the opportunity to end the long-running dispute, Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri said in Malaysia’s capital en route home from visits to Australia and New Zealand. “At the moment, conditions are particularly propitious,” he told reporters Thursday during a stopover in Kuala Lumpur. … Sri Lanka will import air traffic controllers from neighboring India to prevent a shutdown of international flights in the event that local unions strike, the country’s airport chief announced two days ago. M.L.M. Hizbullah said the Indian controllers will be brought to the island’s only international airport to be deployed if talks with the unions break down and lead to a work stoppage. “Our negotiations with the unions are still on,” Mr. Hizbullah added.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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