- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 7, 2009

AFGHANISTAN

Gates visits camp for surging troops

CAMP LEATHERNECK | A huge U.S. military camp is taking shape in the baking heat of southern Afghanistan for thousands of extra U.S. troops charged with defeating a resurgent Taliban.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates visited Camp Leatherneck, with concrete blast walls and semi-cylinder sand-colored tents, on Thursday as he surveyed preparations for what will be the biggest wave yet in a year that is seeing U.S. troop numbers doubled.

The camp is being constructed in Helmand province next to a British base, Camp Bastion, as Marines and other forces dramatically expand their presence in the most violent area of Afghanistan and heartland of the Taliban movement.

EGYPT

Egypt explains nuclear traces

CAIRO | Egypt said on Thursday media reports that U.N. nuclear inspectors found traces of highly enriched uranium at an Egyptian reactor complex addressed an old issue that had already been resolved.

A restricted International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report, obtained by Reuters news agency on Wednesday, said the inspectors found the traces but did not specify whether they were weapons-grade - enriched to a high-enough level to make a bomb.

The report said Egypt had explained to the IAEA that it thought the highly enriched uranium “could have been brought into the country through contaminated radio-isotope transport containers,” Egypt’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said.

He said the issue had been first raised in 2007.

SWITZERLAND

Swine flu could infect 2 billion

GENEVA | The World Health Organization says up to 2 billion people could be infected by swine flu, if the current outbreak turns into a pandemic.

WHO flu chief Keiji Fukuda says the number wasn’t a prediction, but that past experience with flu pandemics indicated one-third of the world’s population gets infected.

Mr. Fukuda says that with a world population of 6 billion people, it’s “reasonable” to expect that kind of infection tally.

SOMALIA

Pirates capture Dutch freighter

NAIROBI, Kenya | Pirates seized a Dutch cargo vessel Thursday, a regional maritime group said, in the latest hijack by gangs proliferating off Somalia despite the presence of patrolling foreign warships.

“The crew are said to be safe. We are hearing there are between eight and 18 crew members,” said Andrew Mwangura, of the Kenya-based East African Seafarers Assistance Program.

Somali pirate activity has been frenetic in recent weeks, despite an unprecedented deployment of warships seeking to deter armed groups marauding in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden.

COLOMBIA

Kosovo politician expelled on warrant

BOGOTA | Colombia’s DAS domestic security agency says it has expelled former Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Ceku based on an Interpol warrant for purported war crimes.

An agency official told the Associated Press the warrant was issued by Serbia, from which Kosovo gained independence after an armed rebellion. Mr. Ceku was the leader of the rebellion.

Mr. Ceku was expelled Wednesday night after taking part in a conference on the demobilization of guerrilla movements organized by Colombia’s government and attended by President Alvaro Uribe.

He has in the past been briefly detained by several European countries.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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