- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 19, 2009

IRAN

Official says drone can reach Israel

TEHRAN | Iran has built an unmanned surveillance aircraft with a range of more than 600 miles - far enough to reach Israel - a top defense official said in remarks published Wednesday.

Deputy Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said he could not provide more details, only that the development of the unmanned aircraft, or drone, was an “important achievement.” His remarks were published Wednesday in the government-owned newspaper, Iran, and by the semiofficial Fars news agency.

Iran announced two years ago it had built an unmanned aircraft, but Mr. Vahidi’s comments were the first by a top official revealing its range.

BRITAIN

Radical preacher can be deported

LONDON | An extremist Muslim preacher once called a key operative for Osama bin Laden in Europe can be deported to Jordan despite fears he could face torture there, Britain’s highest court ruled Wednesday.

Abu Qatada, a Palestinian-Jordanian, arrived in Britain in 1993. He and his family were given residency rights in Britain but in 2002 he was jailed and held for three years after British authorities accused him of advising militants and raising money for terror attacks. In 2005, he was released but re-arrested pending his deportation to Jordan where, in his absence, he had been sentenced to life for conspiracy to commit terrorist activities.

GAZA STRIP

Israel says no truce without soldier back

JERUSALEM | Israel declared Wednesday that it will not open the Gaza Strip’s blockaded borders until Hamas militants free a captured Israeli soldier, dealing a blow to Egyptian efforts to broker a long-term cease-fire.

The decision was condemned by Hamas, which is desperate for border crossings to be opened in order to start repairing destruction from Israel’s military offensive in the coastal territory last month.

Gaza’s borders have been sealed by Israel and Egypt since the Islamic militants of Hamas violently seized control of the territory nearly two years ago.

GUADELOUPE

One killed in protests

BASSE-TERRE | A man was fatally shot as he drove during a night of rioting and protests over the high cost of living, officials said Wednesday - the first fatality in a nearly month-old strike that has battered this French Caribbean island’s tourist industry and paralyzed daily life.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon’s office in Paris condemned the slaying and said the circumstances were being investigated. He urged all involved to “stop the violence that is traumatizing all of Guadeloupe.”

CAMBODIA

Genocide court near holding trial

PHNOM PENH | A long-delayed Khmer Rouge genocide tribunal wrapped up its opening session Wednesday with judges saying they must agree on a list of witnesses before announcing when a full trial of the former head of the regime’s torture center will begin.

Kaing Guek Eav - better known as Duch - is charged with crimes against humanity. He is the first of five defendants from the close-knit, communist regime that ruled Cambodia in the 1970s and turned it into a vast slave labor camp in which an estimated 1.7 million people perished.

Three decades after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, the U.N.-assisted tribunal began a procedural session Tuesday to lay the groundwork for a full trial expected in March.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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