- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 23, 2006

WEST BANK

U.S. blocks cash to Hamas government

RAMALLAH — A stern U.S. warning to international financial institutions has made it impossible for the Palestinian Authority to receive funding since the militant Islamic group Hamas took power, a Palestinian official said yesterday.

Nabil Amr, a top aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said the U.S. has warned banks not to transfer money to the new Hamas-led government.

It was the first time a Palestinian official admitted the United States has influenced financial institutions and prevented millions of dollars in desperately needed Arab cash from reaching the Palestinian Authority.

About $50 million from Qatar already has been transferred to an account opened by Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, but the cash is stuck there, Mr. Moussa told reporters.

SAUDI ARABIA

Hu visits Riyadh after U.S. trip

RIYADH — Chinese President Hu Jintao kicked off a three-day trip yesterday to Saudi Arabia, China’s main oil supplier, nurturing a budding alliance between the countries.

Hu’s flight straight from the United States, where he met President Bush, to Riyadh has underscored how important Saudi Arabia and its oil are for China, where burgeoning demand helped push world crude oil prices last week to all-time highs.

Saudi Arabia has powerful security ties with the United States, and it has insisted that its growing ties with Beijing are no threat to Washington.

AFGHANISTAN

Canadian soldiers killed in bombing

KANDAHAR — A roadside bomb killed four Canadian soldiers yesterday in southern Afghanistan in the deadliest attack against Canadian forces since they deployed here in 2002.

Canadian military officials blamed remnants of the toppled Taliban government for the blast in the village of Gomboth, about 25 miles north of Kandahar.

No one promptly claimed responsibility for the bombing, but Taliban militants have vowed to step up attacks against coalition and Afghan forces during the spring and summer.

SOUTH KOREA

Tokyo, Seoul end standoff

SEOUL — South Korea and Japan defused a tense standoff over disputed waters yesterday, as Japan withdrew a plan to survey the area and South Korea delayed plans to submit name proposals for underwater features.

Both countries agreed to more discussion of settling their sea boundaries as early as next month, as part of a deal that wrapped two days of negotiations that raised concerns of a possible confrontation at sea.

South Korea, which vehemently opposes Japan’s survey plans, dispatched 20 gunboats to the area and warned of a possible physical confrontation if Japan proceeded.

PAKISTAN

Al Qaeda operative killed in shootout

ISLAMABAD — A suspect slain in a shootout with Pakistani agents last week was a senior al Qaeda operative from Syria who was behind militant attacks in Pakistan’s tribal regions and against U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan, Pakistan’s interior minister said yesterday.

Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao identified the suspect as Marwan Hadid al-Suri, 38. He died in a gunbattle Thursday after agents, acting on tip-off, stopped him at a roadblock at Khar, a town near the northwestern tribal region of Bajur.

His identity was confirmed after specialists scanned a laptop computer, a diary and some other documents found in his vehicle.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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