- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 7, 2008

VENEZUELA

Military shows off missile power

LA ORCHILA | Venezuela fired live missiles from fighter jets and ships Friday during exercises intended to demonstrate the firepower of President Hugo Chavez’s military.

Smoke rose from ships off the La Orchila island military base as Otomat MK2 missiles arced into the sky and Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jets flew in formation.

A U.S. Navy plane in May flew over the same Caribbean island base, drawing a diplomatic protest from Venezuela. U.S. officials said the plane accidentally strayed into Venezuelan airspace during a counter-drug mission, but Mr. Chavez accused Washington of espionage.

Defense Minister Gustavo Rangel Briceno, who commanded the troops during Friday’s exercises, said it was the first time in 13 years that such drills were held with live missile fire at sea.

COLOMBIA

Carter helps revive ties with Ecuador

BOGOTA | Colombia and Ecuador are restoring diplomatic ties at the charge d’affaires level following mediation by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Colombia’s presidential spokesman said Friday.

Ecuador pulled its ambassador in anger after a cross-border Colombian military raid March 1 on a leftist rebel camp in which a senior Colombian guerrilla and 24 others were killed.

The Colombian announcement followed a statement issued by the Carter Center in Atlanta that said President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia and President Rafael Correa of Ecuador had “confirmed their willingness” to restore ties “immediately and without preconditions.”

CHINA

Sterilizations reversed for quake parents

BEIJING | The government will send a medical team to China’s earthquake zone to reverse sterilization operations on parents who have lost children in the disaster to allow them to have another child, Xinhua News Agency said Friday.

The team will provide technological support for those wanting to give birth to another child, the agency reported, quoting an official of the National Population and Family Planning Commission.

The announcement comes after a growing number of parents from across the quake-hit area have been demanding the government explain why so many schools collapsed during the quake. At least 69,000 people died in the quake.

GAZA STRIP

Palestinian killed in Israeli raid

JERUSALEM | Israel sent aircraft, tanks and ground troops to pummel the Gaza Strip on Friday, killing one Palestinian and injuring 17, a day after Palestinian militants killed an Israeli civilian in a mortar attack.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned that Israel was close to abandoning efforts to bring a truce to the volatile area and was seriously considering a large-scale incursion.

UNITED NATIONS

Panel criticizes U.S. on Gitmo minors

GENEVA | A U.N. committee on child rights criticized the United States on Friday for filing war crimes charges against Guantanamo Bay detainees who were picked up as minors.

The detainees were recruited to fight while they were children and should therefore be treated as victims rather than unlawful enemy combatants, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child said.

U.S. officials say two men who were juveniles when they were first detained remain at the island base.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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