- The Washington Times - Monday, January 9, 2006

AFGHANISTAN

Karzai opens door for mullah’s return

KABUL— President Hamid Karzai said yesterday he was open to the return of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and that he should “get in touch with us” if he is ready to reconcile with the government.

Any Afghan, Taliban or non-Taliban, who who wants to participate in the life of the country is welcome, Mr. Karzai said in an interview with the Associated Press.

Regarding Mullah Omar, he said, “We would see what he has to say, of course. But I don’t think he will come. He has so much on his hands against Afghanistan. We don’t even know as to where he is hiding. He has to first give us an account as to what he’s done.”

SYRIA

Assad visits Egypt, Saudi Arabia

CAIRO — Syrian President Bashar Assad flew to Egypt and Saudi Arabia yesterday for talks on Lebanon, a day after diplomats said Mr. Assad had rejected a U.N. request to interview him about a former Lebanese prime minister’s assassination.

The official Middle East News Agency reported that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Mr. Assad met at the resort town of Sharm el Sheik for about an hour before Mr. Assad flew on to Saudi Arabia.

“The meeting of the two leaders covered the results of talks President Mubarak had with the Saudi king … and with French President Jacques Chirac in Paris … and with Lebanese leaders and the U.N. about Syria and Lebanon,” according to the news agency’s report.

PAKISTAN

NATO to wind down earthquake relief

ISLAMABAD — NATO will begin winding down emergency-relief operations in Pakistani Kashmir later this week, hopeful that stricken communities in the mountainous region are being supported well enough to survive the Himalayan winter.

“Our intention is to withdraw from Kashmir by Feb. 1, to have all our personnel and equipment out and then to be out of Pakistan by the middle of February,” said Air Commodore Andrew Walton, the British commander of the 1,000-strong NATO force.

Some units are to be brought down from the mountains in the next couple of days, he said. They had been helping to supply food and shelter and keep roads open.

VENEZUELA

Quarrel with Peru said to be resolved

CARACAS — Venezuela said yesterday it had resolved a diplomatic rift with Peru in which Lima recalled its ambassador to protest a meeting between President Hugo Chavez and Peruvian presidential candidate Ollanta Humala.

“The issue with Peru is completed resolved,” Venezuelan Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel told reporters. “We have turned the page.”

Peru withdrew its envoy to Caracas last week after complaining Mr. Chavez meddled in its affairs when he praised Mr. Humala, a nationalist former soldier who is a leading candidate in elections in April.

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

Arrest warrant issued for energy minister

PORT OF SPAIN — Police have issued an arrest warrant for the Caribbean country’s energy minister, accusing him of accepting bribes.

Energy Minister Eric Williams, appointed three years ago to the influential Cabinet position in the natural-gas-rich twin-island nation, was expected to surrender to police by last night, police said.

Mr. Williams is accused of receiving around $12,000 in bribes in return for ensuring that a company controlled by a governing-party member won a contract to supply labor to a seismic-survey project.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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