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World Scene

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 20, 2007

EUROPEAN UNION

Poland warned not to block deal

BRUSSELS — The European Commission warned Poland yesterday that it could lose money and support if it blocks a deal to reform European Union institutions at a summit this week, but Warsaw vowed to fight on.

Poland has demanded a change in the voting reform designed to ease decision-making in the enlarged union, saying the new system would give big states, especially Germany, too much power at Warsaw's expense.

A compromise is considered vital to saving the beleaguered drive for a new EU constitution, which has been stalled for two years, but much of the pre-summit talk has shown little sign of moderation.

AFGHANISTAN

Taliban seizes southern district

KANDAHAR — Days of fierce fighting with NATO and Afghan forces left fundamentalist Taliban militants in control of one southern Afghan district and battling to take over another yesterday, officials said.

Taliban fighters seized Miya Nishin district in Kandahar province late Monday, provincial police Chief Esmatullah Alizai said. Authorities were planning to retake the remote area.

BURMA

Supporters mark Suu Kyi's birthday

RANGOON — Burmese opposition leader and democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi spent another birthday under house arrest yesterday as her supporters released doves and balloons to accompany prayers for her release.

To mark her 62nd birthday, about 300 supporters gathered at the dilapidated headquarters of Mrs. Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), which won an election landslide victory in 1990 only to be denied power by the military junta.

The NLD reiterated its demand for the unconditional release of Mrs. Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, as well as the other 1,100 political prisoners thought to be imprisoned in Burma.

BRITAIN

Inquiry slams kidnap handling

LONDON — Britain yesterday banned military personnel from selling tales of their exploits to the media, in response to the outcry when sailors seized by Iran made deals for their story.

A boarding party of 15 British sailors and Marines was captured by Iran in the Persian Gulf in March and held for 13 days, prompting questions about why they had been taken with such apparent ease and why help was slow to come.

Upon their return, Defense Secretary Des Browne allowed the navy to permit two of them to sell their stories to newspapers, sparking more outrage.

INDIA

Candidate rapped for scarf remark

LUCKNOW — Islamic leaders demanded the ruling coalition withdraw its candidate from India's presidential race yesterday after she said Muslim women should stop wearing their head scarves.

Several Muslim leaders called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to find a new candidate for the largely ceremonial post, accusing Pratibha Patil, a Hindu, of insulting Islam by suggesting that the head scarf is primitive.

Mrs. Patil was quoted over the weekend saying that women started wearing the head scarves in India to save themselves from 16th-century Muslim invaders and that it was time to drop the practice.

From wire dispatches and staff reports