- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 6, 2008

SOMALIA

Gunmen kidnap Libyan diplomats

MOGADISHU — Somali gunmen seized the Libyan ambassador and a colleague while they shopped yesterday in Mogadishu’s busy Bakara market but freed them hours later, embassy staff said.

Ten men armed with pistols grabbed acting Ambassador Naji Ahmed Subeyr and his chief of staff, Fatahi Mohamed Mustafa, as they shopped in the market.

The brief kidnapping coincided with the swearing-in of 15 new ministers and five deputies by parliament as part of a new Cabinet designed to help the interim government build solid institutions before elections due in late 2009.

SAUDI ARABIA

Palestinian leader meets with king

RIYADH — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday held talks with Saudi King Abdullah on the stalled Middle East peace process ahead of President Bush’s trip to the region next week.

A Saudi government spokesman said the two leaders discussed the Mideast peace process after the November conference in Annapolis.

Mr. Bush is to visit Israel and the West Bank town of Ramallah, where Mr. Abbas has his headquarters, at the start of the Jan. 8-16 tour that will also take him to Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

GERMANY

Iran expels envoy in tit-for-tat move

BERLIN — A German diplomat has been ordered to leave Iran, a German news agency said yesterday, in what may be retaliation for the expulsion of an Iranian diplomat from Germany in July.

The Hamburg-based weekly Der Spiegel reported last month that an Iranian official was forced to leave Germany last summer after he tried to acquire components for Tehran’s disputed nuclear program.

INDONESIA

Ex-dictator Suharto in critical condition

JAKARTA — Indonesia’s former dictator, Suharto, was on a dialysis machine in critical condition yesterday, doctors said, as President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called on the nation to pray for his rapid recovery.

Mr. Suharto, 86, was admitted Friday to Pertamina Hospital with swollen intestines, a dangerously low heart rate and anemia, said chief presidential physician Brig. Gen. Mardjo Subiandono, adding that he also needed a second pacemaker.

Mr. Suharto, accused of overseeing a brutal purge of more than half a million left-wing opponents as his 31-year reign began, was conscious but drowsy from medication, several Cabinet members said after visiting him.

MALAYSIA

Police break up fourth rights rally

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysian police broke up a human rights rally yesterday for the fourth time in three months, arresting at least one person and using a water cannon to disperse a group protesting against the use of internal-security laws to silence dissent.

Malaysia has drawn international criticism for its use of a colonial-era security law in a crackdown on public protests that have brought more than 20,000 people onto the streets since November.

The protests in this normally peaceful country occur at a delicate time for Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s government, whose popularity has fallen before snap elections expected in the coming months.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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