- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 26, 2008

PHILIPPINES

Qantas jet lands with hole in fuselage

MANILA | A hole the size of a small car in the underside of a Qantas jumbo jet carrying 346 passengers forced the pilot to make an emergency landing Friday after a rapid descent over the South China Sea.

The Boeing 747-400 was cruising at 29,000 feet when a loud bang rattled the plane. Video shot by a passenger shows people sitting with their oxygen masks on as the jet descended quickly to 10,000 feet. Applause erupted as the plane touched down safely.

There were no injuries. Flight QF 30, from London to Melbourne, had just made a stopover in Hong Kong.

INDIA

7 blasts kill 2 in high-tech hub

BANGALORE | Seven synchronized small bombs shook India’s high-tech hub Friday, killing two people and wounding at least five, officials said.

Bangalore Police Commissioner Shankar Bidri said the seven blasts went off within several minutes of each other at different spots across the city. One woman was killed in an explosion at a bus stop in the city’s Madiwala neighborhood, he said. Another person died later of his injuries, federal Home Minister Shivraj Patil said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

BRITAIN

Brown’s Labor Party loses Scottish seat

GLASGOW | Britain’s ruling Labor Party suffered a sobering election defeat in a Scottish stronghold Friday, a personal rebuke to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a Scotsman, from voters in one of the country’s poorest districts at a time of growing economic uncertainty.

For more than 50 years, the Labor Party had held the seat in its eastern Glasgow stronghold.

Delegates meet in September for the party’s annual conference, but it’s unlikely they will stage a revolt against Mr. Brown. Choosing a new leader would be a gamble, given the small pool of successors who could actually beat the charismatic Conservative leader David Cameron in a general election, due by 2010.

CYPRUS

Unification talks set for Sept. 3

NICOSIA | Rival Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders said Friday they will start historic reunification talks Sept. 3, ending years of deadlock and sparking hope that the island’s 34-year division could finally end.

President Dimitris Christofias, who is Greek Cypriot, and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat agreed on the date after meeting in the buffer zone dividing the two communities.

Any agreement they might reach in the talks will be put to simultaneous referendums on both sides of the island. In Washington, the State Department applauded the announcement.

IRAN

Tehran seeks dealings with IAEA

VIENNA, Austria | A senior envoy said Friday that Iran wants to expand its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, but said the IAEA should not be cast as a “U.N. watchdog” looking for signs of secret nuclear weapons programs. The comments were apparently meant to dispel concerns that Tehran was reducing contacts with the agency.

Instead of cutting back on cooperation, Tehran wants to increase it, Iran’s chief delegate to the IAEA, Ali Ashgar Soltanieh, told the Associated Press. On Thursday, Iranian Vice President Gholam Reza Aghazadeh appeared to signal that his country was no longer prepared to entertain further questions from the IAEA about allegations that Tehran conducted secret research and experiments into nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, an Iranian official said Tehran would be open to the United States opening a diplomatic office in the Iranian capital. Iranian Expediency Council Secretary Mohsen Rezai said Iranians and Americans have mutual interests and a U.S. diplomatic presence in Iran would have a positive outcome, the Kuwaiti News Agency reported Friday.

ITALY

Pope tells Iraqi leader to protect Christians

CASTEL GANDOLFO | Pope Benedict XVI told Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Friday that minority Christians in Iraq needed more protection but the Iraqi leader assured him that Christians were not being persecuted.

Mr. al-Maliki, who met the pope for 20 minutes at the pontiff’s summer residence south of Rome, invited the pontiff to visit Iraq, saying a trip there would help the process of peace and reconciliation.

The late Pope John Paul II wanted to visit Iraq in 2000 but was denied permission by the government of Saddam Hussein.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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