- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 3, 2006

GAZA STRIP

Abbas warms to election delay

GAZA CITY — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas raised the prospect yesterday that Palestinian elections scheduled this month could be delayed, saying balloting would not take place if Israel barred voting in Arab East Jerusalem.

Increased violence has intensified calls from Mr. Abbas’ Fatah movement to put off the Jan. 25 parliament vote, in which the ruling party faces a strong challenge from Hamas militants.

A Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip said that a delay was not acceptable and that it is up to Mr. Abbas to make sure Jerusalem residents can vote.

Israel at first said it would not permit voting in East Jerusalem because of the participation of Hamas, but officials later backed away from the threat, saying they did not want to be used as an excuse for an election delay.

FRANCE

Emergency to end after calm New Year’s

PARIS — France will lift a state of emergency tomorrow that was introduced in November during the worst violence in the country in nearly 40 years, officials said yesterday.

The decision was made after calmer-than-expected New Year’s celebrations that officials had feared might trigger new violent protests against racism and unemployment by youths of African and Arab origin, most of them Muslim.

During three weeks of violence that began at the end of October after the deaths of two youngsters, about 9,000 cars and several schools were set ablaze.

NORTH KOREA

Pyongyang won’t talk under U.S. sanctions

SEOUL — North Korea said today that it cannot return to nuclear disarmament talks unless the United States lifts sanctions for suspected currency counterfeiting and other illegal activities.

“While under U.S. sanctions, it’s impossible to sit face to face and discuss abandoning our nuclear deterrent,” the North’s ruling party newspaper said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

In September, the Bush administration placed sanctions on a China-based bank, saying it helped the North distribute counterfeit currency and engage in other illicit activities.

The next month, the U.S. government sanctioned eight North Korean companies that it said were fronts for proliferating weapons of mass destruction.

NEPAL

Maoists to end short cease-fire

KATMANDU — Maoist rebels in Nepal announced yesterday that they would end a four-month-old cease-fire, saying they had to take up arms to defend themselves against government attacks.

The rebels declared a three-month cease-fire in September, offering a chance to end a civil war that has killed more than 12,000 people. They extended the cease-fire by one month in December.

The government has refused to negotiate with the rebels, saying it is unconvinced they are serious about bringing about an end to the conflict.

INDONESIA

Terror suspects go on trial

JAKARTA — Five Muslim militants went on trial yesterday on charges ranging from plotting to assassinate Westerners to helping hide key members of the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah terror group, which is blamed for a series of bloody bombings in Indonesia.

The men were arrested in raids on Indonesia’s main island of Java in July. All face a death sentence under the country’s counterterrorism laws.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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