- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 5, 2009

NORTH KOREA

South rescues North from pirates

NAIROBI, Kenya | South Korean snipers hovering in a helicopter Monday chased away pirates pursuing a North Korean freighter, a rare instance of recent cooperation between the two Koreas.

The snipers’ South Korean ship has been operating off Somalia since last month on a mission to protect its cargo ships from Somali pirates, whose acts of high-seas crime have exploded in recent years as the bandits continue to get ransoms in the millions of dollars.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the 4,500-ton-class warship sent a Lynx helicopter to assist the North Korean vessel shortly after receiving a distress call that it was being chased by the pirate ship.

The pirate vessel gave up chasing the North Korean vessel and sped away after snipers aboard the helicopter prepared to fire warning shots, the statement said.

ISRAEL

Netanyahu team on PR offensive

JERUSALEM | Israel dispatched top officials to the U.S. and Europe on Monday in a diplomatic offensive aimed at softening the hawkish image of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government.

The country’s contentious foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, told his Italian hosts that Mr. Netanyahu’s government is committed to peace, while President Shimon Peres delivered the same message to Jewish leaders gathered in Washington.

The two also focused on Iran in an apparent attempt to downgrade the Palestinian issue. Both stressed that Iran is the main regional threat, dismissing Tehran’s contention that its nuclear program is peaceful and not aimed at making weapons. Mr. Netanyahu was expected to follow that lead in an address later Monday.

ITALY

Berlusconi wants apology from wife

ROME | A peeved Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has demanded a public apology from his wife, who announced she was seeking a divorce from the billionaire media magnate because she was fed up with his roving eye for younger women.

“Veronica will have to publicly apologize to me. And I don’t know if that will be enough,” the Corriere della Sera daily on Monday quoted Mr. Berlusconi as saying in a long chat with its editor in chief.

Veronica Lario, a 52-year-old former actress, confirmed Sunday she wants a divorce from her husband just a week after publicly venting her rage over Mr. Berlusconi’s frequent flirtations.

IRAN

Ayatollah rebukes Ahmadinejad

TEHRAN | Iran’s supreme leader publicly rebuked the president over his removal of a top official, a rare show of discontent with the hard-line Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by the country’s most powerful figure.

The flap centered on control of a body that organizes the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, traditionally part of the responsibilities under supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s vast powers. Ayatollah Khamenei overturned the government’s removal of the head of the organization.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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