- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 24, 2005

IRAN

Exiles criticize EU for talks with Tehran

PARIS — The main Iranian opposition group, in exile and based in France, yesterday condemned the European Union’s “betrayal” for negotiations with Tehran on its nuclear program.

“Negotiating with the mullahs’ regime constitutes a betrayal,” Mohammed Mohaddessin, an official of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, said at a press conference. He accused Tehran of human rights violations.

The NCRI screened what it said was never-before-seen videotape footage of public hangings in western Iran, in which one of the victims accuses the Islamic republic before his execution of “plotting to kill” him.

Based in a northern Paris suburb, the NCRI is the political face of the People’s Mojahedin of Iran, which is considered a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union. The NCRI rejects the label.

LIBYA

Church body seeks pardon in AIDS case

GENEVA — The head of the World Council of Churches yesterday urged Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to show clemency for five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor on death row reportedly for infecting hundreds of Libyan children with AIDS.

Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the council, urged Col. Gadhafi to spare the six. A Libyan court is expected to rule Tuesday on their appeal of the death sentences.

The six were convicted in May last year of knowingly infecting more than 380 Libyan children with HIV-tainted blood, 47 of whom have died.

The defendants, who have spent six years in prison, insist they are innocent and blame the AIDS infections on poor hygiene at the hospital in Benghazi, northern Libya.

TURKEY

Jerusalem patriarch rejected by peers

ISTANBUL — Leaders from the 12 main Orthodox Christian churches voted yesterday in a rare synod presided over by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Istanbul to stop recognizing Irineos I as patriarch of Jerusalem.

Church members have tried to depose Irineos over accusations that his church leased property to Jewish investors in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians consider their capital. Irineos has refused to resign.

The proceedings yesterday were part of the first major pan-Orthodox summit in more than a decade. However, the gathering has no authority to dismiss Irineos or pick his successor. Only the Orthodox synod of Jerusalem, which Patriarch Irineos refuses to convene, has the power to do so.

Weekly notes

A summit of the five-nation Arab Maghreb Union has been postponed indefinitely amid a three-decade dispute between Morocco and Algeria over the Western Sahara, officials said yesterday. “After consultations and contacts between the foreign ministers of the five member countries, it has been decided to postpone the summit indefinitely,” said the Libyan Foreign Ministry. Created in 1989, the group has not met in more than a decade. … Security forces yesterday arrested all eight members of Syria’s only active political forum in the latest crackdown against dissent, a human rights lawyer said. The participants in the Al-Atassi Forum for National Dialogue were taken from their homes in dawn raids, Anwar al-Bunni told Agence France-Presse.

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