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Briefly

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 4, 2007

SAUDI ARABIA

New units will guard oil fields

RIYADH — Saudi Arabia will set up special security units to protect oil and industrial sites against militant attacks, the interior minister said this week.

Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz also told members of the unelected Shura Council that the kingdom has foiled at least two major plots since 2006 to hit major oil facilities in the kingdom, the world's largest oil exporter.

Prince Nayef told the quasiparliament Sunday that preparations were being made to establish a force of 35,000 men to protect Saudi oil and industrial installations.

IRAN

Government concedes bite of sanctions

TEHRAN — Iran conceded yesterday that U.S.-backed international sanctions imposed over its suspect nuclear programs were harming the country's ability to invest in oil infrastructure.

"The problems that they have made for banks have troubled financing of some projects," Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh told the official IRNA news agency.

He said that the government was attempting to use its own resources, built up from the windfall receipts of recent years of high world oil prices, to cover the shortfall.

ISRAEL

Olmert a no-show at war memorial

JERUSALEM — Families of Israelis killed in last year's war in Lebanon held a memorial ceremony at the national military cemetery this week, but Prime Minister Ehud Olmert did not attend, drawing harsh criticism.

The war cost Mr. Olmert most of his popular support and could yet cost him his job. Two other wartime leaders who have already been forced out of office — ex-Defense Minister Amir Peretz and ousted army Chief of Staff Dan Halutz — joined the gathering Monday at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl cemetery.

Mr. Peretz's replacement as defense minister, Ehud Barak, raised questions about the war at the ceremony, in his first major address since taking office June 19.

LEBANON

U.N. truck accident kills family of four

MARKABA — A Lebanese family of four, including two young children, were killed when their car collided with a United Nations tanker truck near the Israeli border yesterday, sparking anger among local residents, police said.

The four died after the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) vehicle crushed the family's car on a road in Markaba, in the central sector of south Lebanon's border with Israel, a police spokesman said.

Witnesses said the truck, belonging to a Polish contingent of UNIFIL, had been speeding along the roads of the olive-tree dotted landscape of south Lebanon.

EGYPT

President defends Nasser's kin

CAIRO — Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak defended the patriotism of former President Gamal Abdel Nasser's son-in-law, who Israeli intelligence officials say warned Israel of an imminent Egyptian attack in 1973.

Mr. Mubarak told reporters Monday that former official Ashraf Marwan, who died in London last week after falling from his balcony, had not spied for any organization.

Mr. Mubarak, quoted by the Egyptian state news agency MENA, said Mr. Marwan, who left Egyptian government service late in the 1970s, was "a patriot loyal to his nation."

From wire dispatches and staff reports