- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 30, 2008

EGYPT

Oil prices unchanged after OPEC meeting

CAIRO | Saudi Arabia’s king says the price of oil should be $75 a barrel, much higher than it is now, but his oil minister indicated Saturday that no measures will likely be taken until OPEC meets again next month.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi said that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will “do what needs to be done” to shore up falling oil prices when the group meets Dec. 17 in Algeria, but for now it was “too early.”

Other ministers at the hastily convened OPEC meeting in Cairo did not entirely rule out production cuts. But Mr. Naimi, whose country is the world’s largest oil producer, said the bloc needs to wait until the Algeria meeting to assess the impact of earlier production cuts.

The price of crude stood at about $147 a barrel in mid-July. On Friday, the U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for January delivery was trading at about $54 per barrel.

BRAZIL

More bodies found after mudslides

ITAJAI | Rescue workers have pulled nine more bodies from beneath mud and rubble in Brazil’s flood-ravaged southern state of Santa Catarina, bringing the death toll to 109, the state civil defense department said Saturday.

Months of heavy rain have sparked about 4,000 landslides in the southern state. Most of the victims were killed in mudslides; 19 still were missing.

At least 78,000 people in 14 cities have been driven from their homes, with many taking shelter in churches, schools, gymnasiums and other public buildings.

CONGO

U.N. envoy meets with rebel leader

JOMBA | Congo’s main rebel leader asked a U.N. envoy Saturday to arrange a face-to-face meeting with government officials during a second round of talks aimed at bringing peace to eastern Congo.

The envoy, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, and rebel leader Laurent Nkunda met for more than an hour in the rebel-held town of Jomba near the Ugandan border.

Mr. Nkunda said the former president told him the government “accepted the principle” of a face-to-face meeting, but did not agree on where to hold the talks. Mr. Obasanjo met with Congolese President Joseph Kabila last week.

IRAN

Three to be executed for mosque bombing

TEHRAN | Iran’s Revolutionary Court has convicted three men of involvement in a bombing inside a packed mosque that killed 14 people in April and sentenced them to be hanged publicly near the scene of the attack.

The court said Saturday it also found the three men guilty of having links to the United States with orders to destabilize Iran through a campaign of bombings and assassinations. It said they had confessed.

In their confession, according to the court, the men said they received orders to hire agents in Iran, provide them with training on carrying out bombings, procure arms and establish contacts with a U.S.-based Iranian identified only as Jamshid. Their aim, the court said, was to assassinate high-ranking officials in Iran.

The statement said Jamshid was a hired agent of the CIA, but did not provide any details.

AFGHANISTAN

Taliban commander among 53 killed

KABUL | Gun battles and air strikes by NATO and Afghan troops killed 53 militants in Afghanistan, including a wanted Taliban commander who tried to hide from soldiers under a woman’s burqa, officials said Saturday.

The U.S. forces targeting the commander surrounded a house Friday in Ghazni province and ordered everyone inside to leave, a military statement said.

Six women and 12 children left the building, but while soldiers were questioning the women they discovered one was actually a man dressed in a burqa, the traditional all-encompassing dress that most Afghan women wear. The man, later identified as the targeted commander, Haji Yakub, tried to attack the soldiers and was killed, the military said.

Mr. Yakub was thought to have directed roadside bomb and suicide attacks against Afghanistan’s government and coalition forces in Ghazni, according to the statement.

CUBA

Castro attends beatification Mass

HAVANA | Cuban President Raul Castro attended a ceremony for the country’s first religious beatification Saturday in another sign of warming relations between the communist-ruled island and the Catholic Church.

Dressed in a dark suit, Mr. Castro sat in the first row at the Mass conducted with a Vatican envoy for Father Jose Olallo, who worked with cholera sufferers and died in 1889. He is the first Cuban to receive such honors in the island’s more than 500 years of Catholic history.

After Fidel Castro came to power in a revolution in 1959, Cuba expelled priests and Catholics faced decades of official atheism. Ties improved after Cuba guaranteed religious freedom in 1992, and Pope John Paul II visited six years later.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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