- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 18, 2010

EGYPT

Mubarak tries to restart Mideast peace talks

CAIRO | Pressure intensified on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to agree to direct talks with Israel as Egypt held separate back-to-back meetings with the two sides Sunday in search of a compromise.

Mr. Abbas said he won’t negotiate directly with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unless Israel agrees to recognize its 1967 frontier as a basis for the borders of a future Palestinian state and accepts the deployment of an international force to guard them. Mr. Netanyahu has refused to be pinned down on a framework for negotiations.

In an effort to sound out the prospects for a move to direct talks, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak met with Mr. Abbas, Mr. Netanyahu and U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell separately Sunday in Cairo.

Egypt has friendly relations with both Israel and Mr. Abbas‘ Palestinian Authority. And Cairo - like Washington - is pushing to narrow the divide between the two sides and coax them back to the negotiating table.

Neither the leaders - nor the U.S. envoy - spoke after the meetings, but Egypt’s foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, told reporters there is still work to be done to get the Palestinians to move to direct talks.

MEXICO

Officials say gunmen kill 17 at party

PIEDRAS NEGRAS | Gunmen stormed a party in northern Mexico on Sunday and massacred 17 people, authorities said.

The gunmen arrived at the party in Torreon in several cars and opened fire without saying a word, the Coahuila state Attorney General’s Office said in statement. At least 18 people were wounded.

Several of the victims were young and some were women, but their identities and ages were not immediately determined.

Investigators had no suspects or information about a possible motive.

Police found at least 120 bullet casings at the scene, most of them from .223-caliber weapons.

UNITED KINGDOM

Report: States fail to control arms

LONDON | The failure of states to control the transport of weapons around the world is increasing the risk of human rights violations and war crimes, Amnesty International said in a report Monday.

Transport companies registered in Britain, France, China, Russia and the U.S. are able to move arms and munitions to countries where they could be used to commit serious violations of humanitarian law, the rights group said.

It alleged deliveries of cluster munitions on ships registered in Britain and managed by British and German companies were transported to Pakistan between March 2008 and February this year for use by the country’s army.

The shipments were made despite commitments by Britain and Germany to comprehensively ban the transfer and use of cluster munitions, Amnesty said.

The report, “Deadly Movements: Arms Transportation Controls in the Arms Trade Treaty”, was published to coincide with the resumption of talks at the United Nations on a proposed international treaty on the arms trade.

IRAQ

Tariq Aziz back in Iraqi court

BAGHDAD | Former Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz and several other members of Saddam Hussein’s regime appeared in court Sunday just days after being handed over from U.S. to Iraqi custody, an Iraqi official said.

Deputy Justice Minister Busho Ibrahim said Aziz, 74, and the other members of the deposed regime were summoned to appear in front of the court dealing with crimes from the Saddam era.

The court charged Aziz with squandering the public wealth and he will face a new trial, his lawyer said.

Aziz, who was the international face of Saddam’s regime for several years, has twice before been convicted by the Iraqi High Tribunal and has received prison sentences of 15 years and seven years in prison.

NIGERIA

Gunmen free four journalists

ONITSHA | Gunmen in Nigeria’s southeastern oil region released four local journalists and their driver unharmed Sunday after nearly a week in captivity.

The kidnappers ambushed a convoy of cars carrying the journalists in the southern state of Akwa Ibom on Monday as it approached Aba, in neighboring Abia state.

“Due to the pressure from various quarters, the kidnappers had to release us this morning,” Wahab Oba, chairman of the Lagos state chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, told reporters shortly after being freed.

Mr. Oba said no ransom was paid for their release. The gunmen initially had demanded $1.7 million.

IRAN

Iran to file complaint over mosque attack

TEHRAN | Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday Iran will file a complaint to international bodies about the deadly mosque bombing by an insurgent group he has said the U.S. supports.

The twin suicide bombings of a mosque in southeast Iran killed 28 people Thursday night, in an attack claimed by the Jundallah insurgent group as revenge for the execution of its leader by Iranian authorities in June.

Mr. Ahmadinejad did not specify whether the complaint would be specifically against the U.S., but he did tell state TV that America supported the bombings.