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World Scene

- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 24, 2007

IRAN

Solana says nuke talks constructive

LISBON — European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said his talks yesterday with Iran's nuclear chief were constructive and he hoped for another round in three weeks.

"It has been a constructive meeting ... I have to tell you that probably in three weeks we will try to see if we can meet again," Mr. Solana told reporters after four hours of discussions with Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani in Lisbon.

Mr. Larijani said Iran wants to settle its nuclear dispute with the West through diplomacy, but refuses to halt its suspect nuclear programs.

NORTH KOREA

Russia confirms money transfer

MOSCOW — Russian officials yesterday confirmed the transfer of disputed North Korean funds into a Russian bank, saying they hoped the transaction would help diplomatic efforts to curb North Korea's nuclear program.

"The transfer of North Korean money from Macao into a Russian commercial bank has now been completed," said Mikhail Kamynin, a Russian foreign ministry spokesman.

The funds, about $25 million, were frozen by the United States in a Macao bank in 2005 on suspicion of money-laundering and counterfeiting.

COLOMBIA

Rebels blamed in bombing spree

BOGOTA — A wave of bombings in Colombia's most violent city wounded 23 persons late Friday, and Colombian troops defused another two bombs yesterday. Authorities blamed the bombings on rebels seeking revenge for the killing of a regional guerrilla commander.

The mayor's office in Buenaventura, Colombia's largest port and a major transit point for cocaine leaving the country, declared a nighttime curfew following the seven nearly simultaneous explosions, and security forces increased patrols yesterday.

In an interview with Caracol radio, mayoral spokesman Saulo Quinones blamed Latin America's largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, for the attacks. Earlier this month, the navy killed the local rebel commander.

SAUDI ARABIA

Religious-police trial postponed

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — A judge yesterday postponed the trial of three members of Saudi Arabia's religious police for their suspected involvement in the death of a man arrested after being seen with a woman who was not his relative.

The judge did not set a new date for the trial, the first of its kind in this conservative kingdom, but assured the man's family that the postponement was just procedural, according to a family representative.

Ahmed al-Bulaiwi, a retired border patrol guard in his early 50s, died in custody shortly after his June 1 arrest by religious police in the northern city of Tabuk.

NIGERIA

Trade unions call off strike

LAGOS — Nigeria's two main trade unions yesterday called off a four-day-old general strike over a rise in fuel prices after reaching an agreement with the government, a source close to the talks said.

The two unions met with government negotiators after receiving a letter from President Umaru Yar'Adua that pledges not to raise gas prices at the pump for one year, the source said.

The unions had threatened to extend the strike, which hit most sectors of the economy, to essential services like water and power unless the government gave in. The authorities responded by threatening tougher measures to break the strike.

From wire dispatches and staff reports