- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 11, 2009

CYPRUS

Detained ship had Iranian arms

NICOSIA | A ship detained off Cyprus has breached a U.N. ban on Iranian arms exports, Cyprus’ foreign minister said Tuesday.

But Markos Kyprianou refused to specify what had been found on the Cypriot-flagged Monchegorsk, which U.S. officials suspect was delivering arms to Hamas militants in Gaza.

Cyprus inspected the Monchegorsk twice after it arrived Jan. 29 under suspicion of ferrying weapons from Iran to Hamas fighters in Gaza. It remains anchored off the port of Limassol under tight security.

Last week, Cyprus applied for and received guidance from the U.N. Security Council Sanctions Committee on whether the cargo breached sanctions barring Iran from sending arms abroad.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Collision sparks tanker blaze

DUBAI | A container ship collided with a tanker Tuesday and set it on fire in a shipping channel off the coast of Dubai, the city’s port operator said.

No fatalities were reported. The tanker’s crew was evacuated safely after two sailors were pulled from the water with light injuries.

Rescuers from the Emirates coast guard and an emergency response division of DP World’s parent company were dispatched to the scene.

IRAQ

Sarkozy received by Talabani

BAGHDAD | French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived Tuesday in Baghdad on his first trip to Iraq - a major step in his efforts to rebuild ties with Iraq and end any lingering U.S.-France animosity over the 2003 Iraq invasion.

The French leader was received by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in a welcoming ceremony shown on state television. He also was due to meet Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Former French President Jacques Chirac’s refusal to back the U.S.-led military effort in Iraq led to a new low in France-U.S. ties. France was vilified in U.S. public opinion, with some Americans boycotting French wines, and french fries taking on the name “freedom fries” in the House of Representatives’ cafeteria.

GAZA STRIP

U.N. criticizes Israeli blockade

UNITED NATIONS | The top U.N. official in the Gaza Strip has criticized Israel for blocking shipments of paper to the Palestinian territory to print textbooks for a new human rights curriculum to be taught to children there.

Israel also has refused to allow 12 truckloads of notebooks into Gaza as well as plastic sheeting, which is turned into plastic bags to distribute food that the U.N. provides to about 900,000 people, said John Ging, head of Gaza operations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

Because Israel and Egypt have blockaded Gaza since Hamas gunmen seized control of the territory in June 2007, most Gazans depend on U.N. food and other aid. But Israel controls the key crossing points.

Israeli officials said they were not willing to allow raw materials designated for one purpose to be shipped into Gaza, where they could be processed for another use.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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