- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 4, 2006

AFGHANISTAN

Warlord offers to join bin Laden’s battle

CAIRO — An Afghan warlord wanted by the United States declared support for Osama bin Laden in a videotape broadcast yesterday, indicating his Islamic militant faction would be willing to shelter al Qaeda leaders.

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former Afghan prime minister, controls a wide network in eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistani border, and assistance from his Hezb-e-Islami group would be invaluable to leaders of the terror network, who are foreigners and do not speak the local languages.

“We hope to participate with them in a battle that they lead. They hold the banner, and we stand alongside them as supporters,” Mr. Hekmatyar said in the tape, which was broadcast on the Arabic-language television channel Al Jazeera.

TAIWAN

Leader stops in Abu Dhabi

TAIPEI — Chen Shui-bian, president of the Republic of China (Taiwan), landed in Abu Dhabi for a refueling stop yesterday after turning down Washington’s offer to transit in Alaska when the U.S. scotched plans for an overnight stay in New York.

Mr. Chen made no mention of the apparent rift with the United States before leaving for visits to Paraguay and Costa Rica, and instead blamed China for “trampling on the dignity” of Taiwan’s people.

Washington usually allows Taiwanese leaders to enter the United States in transit, but refuses official visits so as not to irk China. Local press said Mr. Chen had hoped to stop in New York to score diplomatic points after Chinese President Hu Jintao’s trip to the United States last month.

SUDAN

Darfur rebels greet offer of concessions

ABUJA, Nigeria — Sudanese rebels cautiously welcomed U.S.-backed proposals to salvage a peace agreement for Darfur yesterday, and the international community urged them to finally accept the deal aimed at resolving a crisis that has cost at least 180,000 lives.

Four pages of last-ditch revisions to the 85-page peace plan drawn up by mediators from the African Union offered concessions to the rebels on integrating fighters into the Sudanese armed forces, compensation for war victims and power sharing.

UZBEKISTAN

One more U.S. group ordered to shut

TASHKENT — Uzbekistan, increasingly hostile toward Western-funded entities, yesterday shut down the local office of Counterpart, a U.S.-based nongovernmental organization that runs humanitarian projects, the group said.

The authorities have closed down the local offices of at least three other U.S. nongovernmental organizations as well as the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and broadcaster Radio Liberty. The British Broadcasting Corp. closed its office in the country last year, citing official harassment.

PAKISTAN

Two held in attack on U.S. Consulate

KARACHI — Pakistani police have arrested two Islamic militants suspected of planning a March suicide bombing that killed a U.S. diplomat and three others outside the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, an official for the provincial Sindh government said yesterday.

The attack occurred March 2, the eve of a visit by President Bush to Pakistan, and police said at the time that they suspected Islamic militants opposed to President Pervez Musharraf’s support for the U.S.-led war on terrorism.

BRITAIN

Hospital consultant to be mother at 63

LONDON — A 63-year-old British hospital consultant who is to become one of the world’s oldest mothers after undergoing fertility treatment abroad told reporters yesterday that she was delighted with her pregnancy.

Patricia Rashbrook, a child psychologist from Lewes, East Sussex, in southeast England, and her 61-year-old husband, John Farrant, posed briefly for photographers and camera crews outside their home. Mrs. Rashbrook has a 26-year-old daughter and a 22-year-old son.

Italian doctor Severino Antinori said earlier that he had given in vitro fertilization treatment in October, without naming Mrs. Rashbrook.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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