- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 13, 2009

DENMARK

Nearly 1,000 held in climate protest

COPENHAGEN | Tens of thousands of protesters marched through the chilly Danish capital and nearly 1,000 were detained Saturday in a mass rally to demand an ambitious global climate pact, just as talks hit a snag over rich nations’ demands on China and other emerging economies.

The mostly peaceful demonstrations in Copenhagen provided the centerpiece of a day of global climate activism stretching from Europe to Asia. Police assigned extra officers to watch protesters marching toward the suburban conference center to demand that leaders act to fight climate change.

Police estimated their numbers at 40,000, while organizers said as many as 100,000 had joined the march. Police said they rounded up 968 people in a preventive action against a group of youth activists at the tail end of the demonstration.

CUBA

Havana detains U.S. citizen

The Cuban government has arrested an American citizen, and U.S. diplomats in Havana are trying to learn more about the case, the State Department said Saturday.

The American was detained on Dec. 5, State Department spokeswoman Megan Mattson said. She would not release any more details or reveal the person’s identity.

The American was working as a subcontractor for the Maryland-based economic development organization Development Alternatives Inc. Jim Boomgard, DAI’s president and chief executive, said the person arrested is part of a new USAID program intended to “strengthen civil society in support of just and democratic governance in Cuba.”

The New York Times reported Saturday the American was distributing cell phones, laptops and other communications equipment in Cuba.

VENEZUELA

Chavez signs deals with Cuba

HAVANA, Cuba | Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez signed $3.2 billion worth of cooperation agreements with Cuba and said former Cuban leader Fidel Castro was in great health, after visiting him at his home.

Mr. Chavez arrived Friday in Havana for a meeting Sunday of a regional group of leftist leaders, and met shortly after landing with President Raul Castro, who took over from his now 83-year-old brother Fidel after the longtime Cuban leader underwent surgery in 2006.

“Fidel is better than all of us. … I told Raul that Fidel will bury us all,” Mr. Chavez said after his meeting with the Cuban president. In recent years, there were rumors Fidel Castro was close to death.

Mr. Chavez and Raul Castro, 77, on Saturday signed some 285 cooperation agreements worth $3.2 billion, which will go into effect in 2010. The agreements, said Venezuelan Oil and Energy Minister Rafael Rodriguez, chiefly cover the health, education, farming and energy sectors.

THAILAND

Tons of weapons from N. Korea seized

BANGKOK | Five foreigners were detained and their foreign-registered aircraft impounded after it landed in the Thai capital Saturday with tons of war weaponry on board that originated in North Korea, Thai officials said.

Air Force spokesman Capt. Montol Suchookorn said the chartered cargo plane originated in North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang, and requested to land at Bangkok’s Don Muang airport to refuel.

Government spokesman Panithan Wattanayakorn confirmed the seizure and the arrests, saying the weapons included “missiles, explosives and tubes.” The Web site of the Manager media group said the aircraft, an Ilyushin 76 transport from Kazakhstan, was traveling from North Korea to Sri Lanka.

IRAQ

Security had tip-off before bombings

BAGHDAD | Iraqi security forces were tipped off to last week’s suicide bombings in Baghdad just hours before the blasts killed 127 people, a Shi’ite lawmaker said Saturday after a closed-door parliamentary briefing by the nation’s defense minister.

But the tip was too vague and came too late to stop the bombings, Defense Minister Abdul-Qader al-Obeidi told lawmakers, according to the legislator, who attended the discussion.

The special session of parliament was called to question Iraq’s senior security chiefs about security gaps that allowed the third attack since the summer against government sites in the capital.

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