- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 1, 2010

IRAN

Official: No ban on Russian missiles

DAMASCUS, Syria | A senior Iranian official said Thursday that new U.N. sanctions do not ban Russia from delivering sophisticated air-defense missiles to Iran as agreed under a 2007 contract, countering the Russian stance.

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said the contract for delivery of the powerful S-300 air-defense missiles to Iran was concluded before the U.N. Security Council approved new sanctions last month.

“The contract for Russian S-300 missiles was concluded before last U.N. Security Council [resolution]. It is an old contract; therefore, it has nothing to do with the … [new] resolution. Moreover, it is a defensive weapon,” Mr. Larijani told reporters on a visit to Damascus.

Last month, the Russian government said the new U.N. sanctions prevent Russia from delivering S-300 missiles to Iran.

ISRAEL

Abbas gives interview to Israeli media

JERUSALEM | Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas made a fresh bid to win over public opinion in Israel by giving a rare interview to Israeli journalists in which he cast himself as a serious partner for peace talks.

The interview, reported in major Israeli newspapers on Thursday, came as Washington’s special Mideast envoy, George J. Mitchell, was visiting the region trying to find enough common ground between the two sides to allow direct talks to resume.

Also Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he has accepted a German mediator’s proposal to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a captive Israeli soldier held by Hamas militants in Gaza for four years. But he said the most dangerous prisoners would not be allowed to return to their homes, and “mass murderers” would not be freed.

KENYA

East African nations create common market

NAIROBI | Five nations in East Africa implemented new economic rules Thursday to boost cross-border employment and trade.

The new steps push forward a larger plan to integrate the economies of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, which together form the East African Community.

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