- The Washington Times - Friday, May 4, 2007

RUSSIA

U.S. seeks to allay missile concerns

The United States has agreed to U.S. and Russian defense and foreign ministers meeting to try to allay Russian concerns about U.S. missile defense plans in Eastern Europe, a senior U.S. official said yesterday.

Assistant Secretary of State Dan Fried said there had been discussion of holding so-called “2+2” talks among the four ministers in September or early in the fall but no date had been set.

Washington has angered Russia and unsettled some European allies with a plan to deploy 10 missile interceptors in Poland and radar in the Czech Republic from 2012 to help shield Europe from possible missile attack by nations such as Iran.

IRAQ

Shi’ites protest Al Jazeera ‘insults’

BAGHDAD — Hundreds of angry Shi’ites poured onto the streets of two cities south of the Iraqi capital yesterday to protest what they considered insults by Al Jazeera television against Iraq’s most revered Shi’ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

The protesters were angered by an Al Jazeera talk show this week in which the presenter questioned the ayatollah’s leadership credentials.

Following Friday prayers in the southern cities of Basra and Najaf, Ayatollah al-Sistani’s supporters carried banners denouncing the channel and its host nation, the Gulf Arab state of Qatar.

CUBA

Officer in hijack bid buried as hero

PINAR DEL RIO — A Cuban army officer killed during a failed airplane hijacking was buried with military honors yesterday, decorated posthumously with one of the communist regime’s top medals as officials blamed Washington for his death.

A government statement said the American policy of letting most Cubans stay if they reach U.S. soil encourages violent attempts to leave this island, such as Thursday’s incident that led to the fatal shooting of Lt. Col. Victor Ibo Acuna Velazquez by two army deserters.

Col. Acuna, 41, a communications engineer, was among eight persons being held aboard a plane sitting at Havana’s international airport when he quarreled with one of the captors and was shot by the other. The deserters reportedly were captured later by soldiers.

UKRAINE

Leaders agree on early elections

KIEV — Ukraine’s president and prime minister reached agreement yesterday on holding early parliamentary elections in a bid to end a political standoff between the rival leaders.

The agreement is a major victory for President Viktor Yushchenko, whose April 2 decision to dissolve parliament and call early elections was a huge risk and looked in danger of backfiring as the crisis dragged on.

FRANCE

Carlos the Jackal to face terror trial

PARIS — The Cold-War-era terrorist Carlos the Jackal was ordered to stand trial for his purported role in deadly terror bombings in 1982 and 1983 in France — including two carried out to try to gain his jailed girlfriend’s freedom, a judicial official said yesterday.

Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere ordered Carlos, whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, to stand trial for the four attacks, which killed 12 persons and injured at least 100.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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