- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 26, 2007

LEBANON

Opposition blocks presidential vote

BEIRUT — Hezbollah and its opposition allies blocked the election of Lebanon’s next president yesterday, boycotting a parliamentary session to prevent the backers of the anti-Syrian government from choosing a head of state from their own ranks.

But hard-liners on the government side vowed to force through their choice if a compromise is not reached by the next parliament session on Oct. 23.

AFGHANISTAN

60 Taliban militants killed in battle

KABUL — Taliban militants and the U.S.-led coalition fought a daylong battle in southern Afghanistan’s poppy-growing belt yesterday, killing more than 60 Taliban fighters and one coalition soldier, military officials said.

Dozens of insurgents attacked a joint coalition-Afghan patrol near the town of Musa Qala in Helmand province with machine guns, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, the coalition said. The coalition troops returned fire and called in artillery fire and attacks by fighter-bombers.

ZIMBABWE

Parliament opens nationalization debate

HARARE — Zimbabwe’s parliament began debating an empowerment bill yesterday that would give local owners majority control of foreign companies, including mines and banks.

President Robert Mugabe’s government, which critics accuse of plunging Zimbabwe into turmoil by seizing white-owned farms and handing them to inexperienced black farmers, says the bill is part of its drive to empower the country’s poor majority.

JAPAN

Fukuda elected prime minister

TOKYO — Parliament elected political insider Yasuo Fukuda to be Japan’s prime minister yesterday, thrusting the veteran moderate into the job of battling a resurgent opposition and rebuilding the scandal-scarred ruling party.

As a measure of the troubles that await Mr. Fukuda, parliament split over his election, with the lower house supporting him but the upper house choosing an opposition leader. Under parliamentary rules, the lower-house decision triumphed.

Mr. Fukuda, 71, took over from Shinzo Abe, a nationalist who lasted barely a year in office after a drumbeat of damaging scandals and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s loss in upper-house elections in July discredited him and his party.

PANAMA

6 Syrians detained on flight from Cuba

PANAMA CITY — Six Syrians and a Cuban were detained in Panama yesterday after the crew on their flight from Cuba alerted authorities to suspicious behavior. But an aviation official quickly denied police reports that the men tried to open the cockpit door.

A spokesman for the Panamanian Civil Aviation Authority said the Copa Airlines crew simply notified authorities on the ground that a knife was missing after they served breakfast in the first-class cabin, where the Syrians and the Cuban were sitting.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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