- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 17, 2009

RUSSIA

Free-market architect Gaidar dies at 53

MOSCOW | Yegor Gaidar, who oversaw Russia’s painful economic transition from communism to the free market in the 1990s, died Wednesday, an aide said. He was 53.

Mr. Gaidar died unexpectedly of a blood clot at his Moscow-area home while he was working on a book early in the morning, his aide, Valery Natarov, told the Associated Press.

Mr. Gaidar - who served under Boris Yeltsin and as acting prime minister for six months in 1992 - was loathed by ordinary Russians who saw their savings wiped out by the inflation that followed his sudden price liberalization that year. But he was praised by others for taking it upon himself to make painful but necessary changes to fix a dysfunctional communist economy.

ISRAEL

Britain’s Brown says Livni welcome

JERUSALEM | British Prime Minister Gordon Brown phoned former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Wednesday to say she is still welcome in Britain, despite a recent attempt by pro-Palestinian activists to have her arrested during a planned visit to London.

Mrs. Livni’s office said Mr. Brown called Wednesday afternoon to say he objects to the arrest warrant and that he intends to act to change the law that allowed it to be issued.

A Downing Street spokesman confirmed the phone call. Mrs. Livni apparently was targeted because she was foreign minister during Israel’s war against militants in the Gaza Strip in January.

WEST BANK

PLO extends Abbas’ term

RAMALLAH | The Palestine Liberation Organization indefinitely extended Mahmoud Abbas’ term as Palestinian Authority president Wednesday and endorsed his refusal to negotiate with Israel unless it freezes all settlement construction.

The decision, which was expected, nonetheless gave an important vote of confidence to the embattled president. Mr. Abbas’ inability to reconcile with the rival Hamas movement or wrest concessions from Israel has hurt his popularity among many Palestinians.

PHILIPPINES

Militant wanted by U.S. reported held

MANILA | A purported founder of an al Qaeda-linked Philippine militant group who is wanted by the U.S. government in the kidnapping of an American missionary 16 years ago was arrested in Manila on Wednesday, an official said.

Abdul Basir Latip was taken into custody after being transferred from Indonesia, where he was seized by police late last month on his way back to Manila from Syria, after a tip from Interpol, said Ric Diaz, head of the Counter Terrorism Unit of the National Bureau of Investigation.

Latip has been charged in the United States with the 1993 kidnapping of linguist and Christian missionary Charles Walton by the Abu Sayyaf militant group on a southern Philippine island, Mr. Diaz said.

SWITZERLAND

Gitmo detainee to be transferred

BERN | Switzerland will take one detainee from the U.S. detention facility for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in an effort to help President Obama close the prison, the government said Wednesday.

The detainee, whose name was not released, is a citizen of Uzbekistan and has been held for seven years at the U.S. military prison.

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