- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 19, 2008

UNITED NATIONS

U.S., Indian officials brief IAEA

VIENNA, Austria | Senior U.S. and Indian officials met the International Atomic Energy Agency chief on Friday and briefed IAEA governors to resolve questions about India’s plan for expanded nuclear inspections.

India negotiated the safeguards plan with IAEA experts and the text is to be considered by the U.N. watchdog’s 35-nation governing board in a special Aug. 1 session. Approval is a precondition for launching a U.S.-Indian nuclear trade accord.

If it passes, India and the United States must win clearance from a 45-nation group that regulates sensitive nuclear trade, then ratification by the U.S. Congress for the 2005 nuclear agreement to take force.

Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon consulted with IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei on Friday hours before an afternoon briefing with agency governors as well as delegates from the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

ISRAEL

6 men arrested in al Qaeda links

JERUSALEM | Israeli investigators have arrested six men suspected of trying to set up an al Qaeda-linked terror network, including one who wanted to shoot down President Bush’s helicopter, the Shin Bet security service said Friday.

Two of the men are Arab citizens of Israel, both of them students at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, according to the statement. The other four are Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem. The men range in age from 21 to 24.

The new charges follow the arrest this month of two Israeli Arabs on suspicion they gave strategic information to al Qaeda. Those arrests marked the first time Israel had accused any of its citizens of cooperating with the terror network.

The men were arrested in June and July, but the information was only approved for publication Friday, the day the men were to be indicted in a Jerusalem court.

UNITED NATIONS

South African judge to head rights post

UNITED NATIONS | A South African judge who was the first black woman to serve on her country’s highest court will be the next U.N. human rights commissioner, diplomatic and U.N. officials said Friday.

The appointment of Navanethem Pillay, an appeals chamber judge with the International Criminal Court in The Hague is expected to be announced next week by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, officials said. The appointment must be approved by theU.N. General Assembly.

Ms. Pillay, who holds a degree from Harvard Law School, will succeed Louise Arbour, a former Supreme Court judge in Canada, as human rights commissioner, one of the most high-profile positions at the United Nations.

CUBA

More land given to private farmers

HAVANA | Communist officials decreed Friday that private farmers and cooperatives can use up to 100 acres of idle government land, as President Raul Castro works to revive Cuba’s floundering agricultural sector.

The law published in the Communist Party newspaper Granma did not say how much state land will be turned over to private hands and gave no indication of how many Cubans might apply.

But it described the measure as a way to help Cuba solve the problem of underused land while cutting food imports that are expected to cost the government $2 billion this year.

Ownership will stay with the state. Private farmers can get concessions of up to 10 years, renewable for another 10. Cooperatives and companies can have renewable 25-year terms. And all will have to pay taxes for the land.

BHUTAN

King signs new statute

THIMPHU | Bhutan’s parliament endorsed the country’s first constitution Friday, formally turning the former absolute monarchy into a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarchy.

The 27-year-old king, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, signed the first copy of the constitution, using a wooden pen dipped in golden ink inside a 17th-century fortress after parliament had ratified it.

His father, Bhutan’s fourth King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, not only surrendered power without a struggle, but also imposed democracy against the will of many of his subjects before abdicating in favor of his Oxford-educated son in 2006. The Himalayan nation held its first general election in March.

NETHERLANDS

Red panda adopted by zoo’s cat dies

AMSTERDAM | Amsterdam’s Artis zoo said a baby red panda adopted by a zookeeper’s cat after being rejected by its mother has died. The zoo said an autopsy on the tiny panda found its windpipe filled with milk, indicating it choked to death.

The zoo had hoped the panda would be able to suckle from the cat for three months before moving onto a diet of bamboo and fruit.

The tabby cat came to the cub’s rescue July 1 after it was spurned by its mother. A second cub died shortly after the cubs’ birth on June 30.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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