- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 24, 2005

IRAN

Ayatollah orders candidate review

TEHRAN — Iran’s supreme leader ordered the hard-line constitutional watchdog to reconsider its decision barring reformist candidates from running in next month’s presidential elections, state-run television reported yesterday.

The Guardian Council, which vets the election candidates, on Sunday rejected all the reformists registered to run in next month’s presidential elections. The council rejected all but six of the 1,000 hopefuls — including all women.

“It’s appropriate that all individuals in the country be given the choice from various political tendencies,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in his decree addressed to Guardian Council chief Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati.

LEBANON

U.N. team verifies Syrian troop pullout

NEW YORK — A U.N. team has verified the pullout of all Syrian troops from Lebanon, but said it cannot be certain that all intelligence operatives have also left the country, Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced yesterday.

“We have verified all the [troops’] withdrawal, including the border area,” he told reporters.

The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution last Sept. 2 calling on Syria to withdraw all its troops and intelligence operatives from Lebanon. But the U.N. monitors said they could not confirm that all Syrian intelligence agents and assets had been withdrawn.

JAPAN

China slams shrine visits

TOKYO — China expressed extreme dissatisfaction today with remarks by Japanese leaders on visiting a war shrine, state media said, a day after a top Chinese official cut short a trip to Japan in protest.

Chinese Vice Prime Minister Wu Yi canceled a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi yesterday and left a day early, prompting a fresh clash over a trip meant to repair ties, which have deteriorated to their worst state in decades.

China, where bitter memories of Japan’s wartime invasion persist, has repeatedly criticized the visits to the Yasukuni shrine, where convicted war criminals are honored along with Japan’s World War II dead.

MEXICO

Condom machines planned in schools

MEXICO CITY — A Mexican government ministry is pushing for the installation of condom machines in secondary schools in less-affluent areas to stem a surge in teenage pregnancies, a proposal unlikely to find favor with the Roman Catholic Church.

A new study commissioned by the Social Development Ministry found that 15 percent of adolescent girls in deprived areas were pregnant, local news media reported. Mexico does not produce national teen-pregnancy figures.

The condom-machine proposal would have to be approved by the Education Ministry and was expected to face firm opposition from parents’ groups and church officials. Mexicans are overwhelmingly Roman Catholic.

UNITED NATIONS

Hunger increasing despite 1996 pledge

ROME — An objective set at a food summit in 1996 to cut world hunger by half before 2015 will not be met should current trends continue, the director-general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said yesterday as he opened a world meeting on food security.

“Our latest estimates indicate that 852 million people worldwide were undernourished in 2000-2002,” said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf.

In 1996 in Rome, 186 heads of state met at a World Food Summit and set the objective to slash hunger by half when it was revealed that 815 million people suffered from a lack of food.

AFGHANISTAN

Troops move against rebels

KABUL — U.S. and Afghan government forces have launched three operations to clear insurgents from hide-outs and improve security, the U.S. military said yesterday.

The U.S. military says Taliban insurgents and their militant allies are getting weaker and it attributes a recent rash of bloody clashes to more aggressive patrolling by U.S.-led and Afghan government troops.

The United States commands a foreign force of about 18,300, most of them Americans, fighting Taliban rebels and hunting militant leaders, including Osama bin Laden.

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