- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 3, 2008

IRAN

Air war games during Ramadan

TEHRAN | The Iranian air force will hold war games during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which began in Iran on Tuesday, a military commander said.

The exercises will be held amid ongoing speculation about a possible U.S. or Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, which the West and Israel say are part of a clandestine bid to build nuclear weapons despite Tehran’s denials.

“We have had leaps in the field of air defense and aviation in the past two years,” said Iran’s armed forces commander in chief, Brig. Gen. Ataollah Salehi, Fars News Agency reported.

“We hope to show to the public a number of locally manufactured warplanes in the current year,” he said, IRNA news agency reported.

IRAQ

Cabinet approves China oil deal

BAGHDAD | Iraq has approved a $3 billion deal with China to develop the al-Ahdab oil field.

It’s the first Saddam-era oil deal to be honored by the new Iraqi government. It had been canceled after the 2003 invasion.

A government statement said the Cabinet approved the deal on Tuesday. It was signed last week in China.

Under the contract, China National Petroleum Corp. will develop the field for 20 years. It’s expected to produce up to 25,000 barrels a day after three years, and eventually reach 125,000 barrels per day. The field is in Wasit province, 99 miles southeast of Baghdad.

EGYPT

Lawmaker arrested in singer’s death

CAIRO | An Egyptian lawmaker and business tycoon was arrested Tuesday in the death of a Lebanese pop singer, Egypt’s chief prosecutor said, accusing the man of paying a former police officer $2 million to kill her.

Hisham Talaat, a lawmaker from the ruling party of President Hosni Mubarak, is accused of ordering the death of Suzanne Tamim, 30, who was found decapitated in her Dubai apartment in July, chief prosecutor Abdel-Maguid Mahmoud said.

The death made waves in the Egyptian media in early August and prompted a media ban in Egypt following reports that high-profile Egyptian figures were involved.

Mr. Talaat, a senior member of Mr. Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, reportedly was being considered for a Cabinet post.

Mr. Mahmoud said former police officer Mahmoud el-Sukkary was paid to follow Ms. Tamim from London to Dubai, where he bought a knife. He made his way into the singer’s home pretending to be a real estate agent.

Arab media has speculated that Mr. Talaat, a married father of three, was romantically involved with Ms. Tamim, but Mr. Mahmoud did not indicate a motive.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Britons in sex trial ask to leave

DUBAI | A British couple on trial for purportedly having sex on a Dubai beach won’t be allowed to leave the country.

Michelle Palmer and Vince Acors, speaking in low voices, asked the judge Tuesday for a “quick ruling” that would let them return to Britain. But Judge Hamad Abdul Jawad disregarded the request and scheduled another hearing for Sept. 9 to hear from the policeman who arrested the couple.

Miss Palmer, 36, and Mr. Acors, 34, were arrested in the early hours July 5 on a beach after they had been at a hotel party. They were charged with having sex outside of marriage, indecency and drunkenness.

Legal experts say the couple could face up to two years in prison if convicted.

Public display of affection, such as touching, kissing or hugging, is illegal in Dubai and couples - particularly if not married - can be arrested.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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