- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 7, 2007

BOLIVIA

Americans warned to avoid march

LA PAZ — The U.S. Embassy in Bolivia yesterday warned Americans not to attend a military parade to be hosted by President Evo Morales in the eastern city of Santa Cruz for fear of violence.

Thousands of Bolivian soldiers will march with indigenous groups in today’s Armed Forces Day celebration in Santa Cruz, a hotbed of anti-government sentiment.

Leaders in the lowland city are demanding greater autonomy from Mr. Morales’ government and see the parade as an unwelcome display of force by the populist president.

The move to Santa Cruz highlights the stark divide between the poorer indigenous population in the western highlands and the mestizo and European-descended residents of the more prosperous eastern flats.

IRAN

Talks with U.S. ’frank and serious’

BAGHDAD — The United States and Iran held “frank and serious” talks on security issues in Iraq yesterday, more than two weeks after a rare meeting between the ambassadors of the two countries.

Washington has accused Tehran of fueling the violence by arming and training Shi’ite extremists, but it agreed during the July 24 ambassadorial talks to set up a security subcommittee to carry forward talks on restoring stability in Iraq.

EAST TIMOR

Rebel leader named as prime minister

DILI — Independence hero Xanana Gusmao was named East Timor’s new prime minister yesterday, triggering fresh violence in the capital a year after bloody street battles led to the collapse of the government.

Despite hopes that the appointment would end months of political tension, the country’s largest party immediately slammed the decision as illegal. Youths in Dili set up barricades of burning tires and set a tax office on fire, witnesses said.

SUDAN

Darfur rebels signal willingness to talk

ARUSHA — Almost all of Darfur’s splintered rebel factions have agreed to hold peace talks with the Sudanese government within three months, U.N. and African Union officials said yesterday.

After four days of meetings, the rebel factions reached a “common platform” for talks with the government on issues such as power- and wealth-sharing, security, land and humanitarian issues, said the AU envoy to Darfur, Salim Ahmed Salim, and the United Nations’ special envoy to Darfur, Jan Eliasson, in a statement released after the meeting.

CHINA

Journalists arrested for public protest

BEIJING — Police detained journalists at a rare protest yesterday in Beijing, staged by a free-press advocacy group that accuses the government of failing to meet promises for greater media freedom one year ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games.

The detentions, which came during a visit to China by International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge, followed the unfurling of posters depicting the Olympic rings made from handcuffs by members of Reporters Without Borders on a pedestrian bridge outside the headquarters of the Beijing Olympics planning committee.

THAILAND

Bad cops to wear pink badge of shame

BANGKOK — Thai police officers who break rules will be forced to wear hot-pink armbands featuring “Hello Kitty,” the Japanese icon of cute, as a mark of shame, a senior officer said yesterday.

Police officers caught littering, parking in a prohibited area or arriving late will be forced to stay in the division office and wear the armband all day, said Police Col. Pongpat Chayaphan.

From wire dispatches and staff reports