- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 7, 2006

IRAN

Khatami appears at United Nations

NEW YORK — Former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami kept a low profile yesterday at the United Nations for a meeting of a high-level U.N. group tasked with promoting an “Alliance of Civilizations” between the West and the Islamic world.

Mr. Khatami, who is on a private U.S. visit for a series of talks, made no statement to the press.

The two-day conference opened Tuesday.

The Alliance of Civilizations is a 2005 initiative by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the prime ministers of Spain and Turkey aimed at bringing together institutions and civil society to bridge prejudices and misunderstandings among peoples of different cultures and religions.

Mr. Khatami is scheduled to speak at the Washington National Cathedral today.

Mr. Khatami, who has no scheduled meetings with U.S. government officials during his two-week visit, is the most senior Iranian representative to travel to the United States since Washington broke off diplomatic relations after the 1979 storming of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

AUSTRIA

Woman thought ‘only of escape’ for 8 years

VIENNA — The young Austrian woman imprisoned for 8 years in an underground cell “thought only of escape” during her entire ordeal and once tried to jump out of her captor’s car, she said in interviews published yesterday.

Natascha Kampusch, who bolted to freedom on Aug. 23, told the Austrian weekly magazine News that she repeatedly asked herself: “Why, of all the many millions of people, did this have to happen to me?”

The interviews hit the newsstands a few hours before a TV interview with Miss Kampusch, now 18. “I thought only of escape,” she told the magazine two weeks after she won her freedom by taking advantage of a phone call that distracted Wolfgang Priklopil. She ran to neighbors, who called police.

Priklopil, 44, killed himself within hours of her escape.

NORTH KOREA

Pyongyang not keen on nuke talks, U.S. says

BEIJING — North Korea has no interest in returning to six-nation talks on ending its nuclear weapons program, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher R. Hill said.

“We’re at a difficult juncture,” Mr. Hill said today in Beijing. “It seems the DPRK isn’t interested in coming back to talks.” The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is North Korea’s official name.

Mr. Hill is in China for a weeklong visit as part of a new round of diplomacy aimed at restarting the talks. President Bush on Aug. 21 asked Chinese President Hu Jintao to pressure North Korea to return to the negotiations. North Korea has refused to attend until the U.S. lifts economic sanctions.

PAKISTAN

Truce with militants won’t clear bin Laden

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan said yesterday that a peace deal with Islamic militants in a border province would not give safe harbor to Osama bin Laden if he is found in the country.

The government and militants — thought to support al Qaeda and the Taliban militia — signed a peace deal Tuesday, aimed at ending years of violence in the rugged North Waziristan tribal area.

The defense minister’s office said yesterday that “Pakistan is on the hunt for Osama bin Laden and his associates.”

“No amnesty has been granted to Osama bin Laden,” it said. “He deserves no mercy.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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