- The Washington Times - Friday, March 21, 2008

SERBIA

Leader hits U.S. plan to arm Kosovo

BELGRADE — Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica yesterday criticized President Bush’s authorization of U.S. military assistance to Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia last month, as “deeply wrong.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Bush signed a declaration granting Kosovo eligibility to receive help with weapons and troops under the Foreign Assistance Act and the Arms Export Control Act. The White House said provisions would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

PAKISTAN

Suicide car bomb kills 5 soldiers

ISLAMABAD — A suicide car bomb killed five Pakistani soldiers and wounded nine others near the Afghan border yesterday, the military said.

The bomber attacked security forces in South Waziristan’s main town of Wana. Al Qaeda- and Taliban-linked militants are thought to operate in the remote tribal area in the rugged, lawless regions along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Pakistani troops have fought intense battles there in recent years.

IRAN

Annan sees disaster in military strike

NEW YORK — Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned yesterday that military action against Iran would be “a real disaster” and said the Middle East could explode if the international community doesn’t handle the many conflicts in the region carefully.

He said there was “quite a bit of hypocrisy on all sides” in trying to resolve the five-year conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region, especially in encouraging the African Union to take on peacekeeping when it doesn’t have the resources.

At a wide-ranging roundtable with journalists, Mr. Annan said he didn’t have enough information to comment on the justification for the U.N. Security Council’s demand that Iran suspend uranium enrichment.

FRANCE

Police detain 5 tied with Islamists

PARIS — Five Islamist suspects who purportedly trained for combat in hopes of joining the Iraq insurgency are being held for questioning in southern France, police and judicial officials said yesterday. They were arrested in the cities of Toulouse, Montpellier and Carcassonne.

Seven other men went on trial in Paris on Wednesday to face charges that they were involved in an al Qaeda-linked recruitment network, also aimed at Iraq.

A threatening new message from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has raised concerns that the organization is plotting attacks in Europe. The message accused Pope Benedict XVI of helping in a “new Crusade” against Islam and warned of a “severe” reaction to European publication of cartoons seen by Muslims as insulting Islam’s prophet Muhammad.

RUSSIA

2 U.S. brothers charged with spying

MOSCOW — Russia charged two brothers with dual Russian-U.S. citizenship on charges of gathering secret information aimed at giving foreign oil companies a competitive advantage, the Federal Security Service said yesterday.

The agency said one of the men was an employee of TNK-BP, a major Russian oil company half-owned by BP PLC, and that his brother was an employee of the British Council, the overseas cultural arm of the British government.

Police searched the Moscow offices of BP and TNK-BP on Wednesday. The searches turned up “business cards of representatives of foreign defense departments and the Central Intelligence Agency,” the agency said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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