- The Washington Times - Friday, August 8, 2008

CHINA

Koreas refuse to march together

BEIJING | South and North Korea will not march together in Friday’s opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said Thursday that negotiations for a joint march failed, calling it a “setback for peace” and reunification efforts on the divided peninsula.

Athletes from the two Koreas marched together in the same uniform under the blue and white “unification flag” at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and 2004 Athens Games.

Mr. Rogge said there had been a “great willingness” among the two national Olympic committees for a joint march, but the political leaders did not agree.

The two sides fought the 1950-53 Korean War that ended with a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving them still technically at war.

ISRAEL

Soldiers in shooting video charged

JERUSALEM | The Israeli army charged two soldiers Thursday over the purported shooting with a rubber bullet at point-blank range of a bound and blindfolded Palestinian, a military spokesman said.

Lt. Col. Omri Borberg, a regimental commander suspended last month pending a military investigation, was transferred from his position a day earlier over allegations he ordered the soldier, identified only as Staff Sergeant L., to fire the bullet.

The Military Advocate General said it was charging the soldiers with the offense of “unworthy conduct.” An army spokesman said the two could each receive a maximum one-year jail sentence.

The incident took place five weeks ago in the West Bank village of Nilin during protests against the construction of Israel’s barrier in and around the occupied territory.

MAURITANIA

Junta pledges vote but U.S. freezes aid

NOUAKCHOTT | Leaders of a military coup in Mauritania promised Thursday to hold a free and transparent presidential election as soon as possible, but the United States suspended aid and demanded an immediate return to civilian rule.

Soldiers ousted the nation’s first freely elected president, Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, on Wednesday after he tried to dismiss military chiefs widely seen to have turned against Abdallahi in a political crisis in Africa’s newest oil producer.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the military’s overthrow of the democratically elected government in Mauritania and at present, all non-humanitarian foreign assistance is suspended and under review,” a State Department spokesman said. He said more than $20 million of aid was suspended.

SYRIA

Top dissident freed from prison

DAMASCUS | Syria on Thursday released one of the country’s most prominent dissidents after nearly seven years in prison - a man whose freedom was urged by international rights groups and President Bush.

Aref Dalila, a former head of economics at Damascus University, was freed under an amnesty by President Bashar Assad, his brother, Mustafa, told the Associated Press.

Mr. Dalila, 68, was arrested in 2001 and later sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of attempting to change the Syrian constitution, inciting armed rebellion and spreading false information.

BRITAIN

‘Great Escape’ veteran dies at 92

LONDON | Eric Dowling, nicknamed “Digger” for helping excavate tunnels used in the breakout from a World War II German prison camp that became known as the “Great Escape,” has died. He was 92.

Mr. Dowling played a key role in planning the 1944 escape by 76 prisoners from Stalag Luft III prison near Sagan in eastern Germany - now Zagan, Poland. He forged documents, made maps and helped dig three tunnels code-named Tom, Dick and Harry.

The daring breakout was one of the most celebrated incidents of the war and inspired the 1963 film “The Great Escape” starring Steve McQueen and Richard Attenborough. All but three of the escapees were recaptured, and 50 of them were shot on the orders of Adolf Hitler to deter future attempts.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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