- The Washington Times - Monday, February 5, 2007

AFGHANISTAN

Incoming commander will take tough line

KABUL — Gen. Dan McNeill, the highest-ranking U.S. general to lead troops in Afghanistan, took command of 35,500 NATO-led soldiers yesterday, putting an American face on the international mission after nine months of British command.

He replaces British Gen. David Richards, who backed a peace deal in the southern town of Musa Qala that crumbled last week when an estimated 200 Taliban fighters overran the town during Gen. Richards’ last days in command.

One American military officer who labeled Gen. McNeill a “war fighter to the bone” said his arrival likely signals the end of such deals, saying they would go under “much greater scrutiny.”

JAPAN

Anger over remark hurts party at polls

TOKYO — The ruling bloc lost a key local election yesterday, a possible bellwether of public anger after a Cabinet minister caused an uproar by calling women “birth-giving machines.”

Health Minister Hakuo Yanagisawa infuriated the public by calling the country’s women “birth-giving machines” who had “to do their best per head” to stem Japan’s falling birthrate.

Mr. Yanagisawa quickly apologized, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has repeatedly rebuffed calls from opposition and civic groups for his resignation. But yesterday’s weak showing at the polls is expected to increase pressure on Mr. Yanagisawa.

SAUDI ARABIA

Gulf Arab official to meet with IAEA

RIYADH — A Gulf Arab official will head to Vienna, Austria, this month for talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency on regional plans to pursue a nuclear-energy program, a Saudi newspaper said yesterday.

Abdul-Rahman al-Attiya, secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, was quoted as saying in al-Riyadh daily that he would visit the IAEA headquarters in Vienna this month.

The GCC said in December it had decided to set up a joint civil atomic program, raising concerns the Arab states may want to counter Iran’s nuclear program.

ZAMBIA

China’s Hu hails copper-mining deal

LUSAKA — Chinese President Hu Jintao announced a copper-mining partnership with Zambia yesterday and won praise from Zambia’s finance minister for his focus on economic investment rather than politics.

Finance Minister Ng’andu Magande said the visit by Mr. Hu — his fifth stop on an eight-nation African tour — was “one of the most successful visits by a foreign head of state.”

Other donors, he said, have political agendas. “People come here and talk about U.N. reform and conflict zones,” he said. “China has decided they will take a different route, they will take an economic route.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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