- The Washington Times - Friday, May 18, 2007

NORTH KOREA

Congressman slams N. Korea bank deal

Rep. Ed Royce, California Republican, has sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressing “grave concern” about reports that the Wachovia Corp. is considering accepting $25 million in North Korean funds linked to money-laundering from a Macao bank.

By asking Wachovia to deposit the money in an effort to clear the way for the closure of the North’s main nuclear reactor, the State Department is trying to “unravel” the Treasury Department’s decision to ban U.S. banks from dealing with Macao’s Banco Delta Asia, wrote Mr. Royce, who is a member of the House Financial Services and Foreign Affairs Committees.

“I have little confidence that this transfer of illicitly obtained assets would advance an acceptable resolution of the nuclear crisis,” he said.

SUDAN

U.N.: Forces killed civilians in Darfur

GENEVA — Sudanese security forces took part in a series of attacks on villages in the Darfur region in which more than 100 people, including civilians, were killed, according to a U.N. report yesterday.

Even though no evidence was found that the attackers were operating under the direct command of President Omar al-Bashir’s government, the report by the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said it was the government’s duty under international human rights law to investigate the incidents and act to protect civilians from attacks.

AFGHANISTAN

14 Taliban killed in air strikes

KABUL — Air strikes targeted a convoy of suspected Taliban militants who had left a meeting in western Afghanistan, killing 14 and wounding 10, a provincial governor said yesterday.

The Taliban had met Thursday to appoint a leader in western Farah province, Gov. Muhaidin Baluch said. As they left the meeting in Bakwa district, air strikes hit seven of their vehicles, he said.

Two of the 10 wounded lost their legs, and the 14 dead were buried near where they were killed, Mr. Baluch said.

IRAQ

Shi’ite leader in U.S. for checkup

BAGHDAD — The leader of Iraq’s largest Shi’ite political party is heading to the United States for medical checkups, an official at his office said yesterday.

Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim flew to the U.S. on Wednesday, said the official.

Mr. al-Hakim, re-elected last week as leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, is not known to be suffering any health problems, but he is a heavy smoker. Mr. al-Hakim, who has led his party since 2003, is thought to be in his late 50s or early 60s.

He had a White House meeting with President Bush in December.

PAKISTAN

Musharraf bars return of exiled leaders

ISLAMABAD — President Pervez Musharraf said he would not allow two former prime ministers who are also his main political rivals to return to Pakistan to take part in upcoming elections, according to a report yesterday.

The announcement seems likely to deepen Pakistan’s political crisis, in which the military leader faces accusations of authoritarianism as well as a growing challenge from Islamic extremists.

Gen. Musharraf was asked during an interview with the private Aaj television channel about the aspirations of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif to return from exile to lead their parties in parliamentary elections, due at the end of the year.

“No, they will not be returning before elections,” Gen. Musharraf said in an excerpt shown before the screening of the full interview later yesterday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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