- The Washington Times - Monday, January 16, 2006

ISRAEL

Sharon gets surgery but fails to awaken

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Ariel Sharon underwent a successful tracheotomy yesterday to help wean him off a respirator that has been helping him breathe, but the Israeli leader’s failure to regain consciousness after a massive stroke Jan. 4 was drawing increasing concern.

The surgery to insert a plastic tube in Mr. Sharon’s windpipe took less than an hour and followed a CT scan that showed no changes in the 77-year-old leader’s brain.

Though Mr. Sharon was taken off sedatives Saturday, he had not regained consciousness more than a day later. The hospital continued to describe his condition as critical but stable.

IRAN

Tehran warns West against sanctions

TEHRAN — Iran said yesterday that only diplomacy, not threats to refer it to the U.N. Security Council, could defuse a standoff over its nuclear work and warned that any Western push for sanctions could force up world oil prices.

The Security Council’s five permanent members and Germany planned talks in London today in search of a common strategy to tackle Iran’s resumption of atomic fuel research and development after a two-year moratorium.

“Diplomacy is the only clear answer to the current situation,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi. “There is no legal basis for referring Iran to the Security Council. But if that were to happen, Iran is not afraid.”

FINLAND

Presidential contest heads for a runoff

HELSINKI — Voters gave Finnish President Tarja Halonen a victory in the first round of a presidential election yesterday, but the country’s first female president faces a runoff against a conservative challenger for a second term.

The left-leaning incumbent won 46.3 percent of the vote with a campaign emphasizing her common touch and promising to preserve the welfare state.

But her failure to secure a majority pits her in a second round Jan. 29 against former Finance Minister Sauli Niinisto, who won 24.1 percent. Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen came third with 18.6 percent.

PERU

Nationalist favored in pre-election poll

LIMA — Retired army commander Ollanta Humala, whose nationalist and anti-capitalist agenda has frightened investors, has taken the lead ahead of Peru’s April presidential election, an opinion poll showed yesterday.

Mr. Humala, who led an attempted coup in 2000 against President Alberto Fujimori and wants to rewrite contracts with foreign oil companies, has 28 percent of popular support, up sharply from 8 percent in October, a nationwide Apoyo poll showed.

The poll, conducted Wednesday through Friday, showed center-right opposition politician Lourdes Flores, a former lawmaker, had dropped into second place with 25 percent.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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