- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 28, 2010

EGYPT

Direct peace talks get U.S. boost

CAIRO | Egypt said Wednesday it has received U.S. assurances that may help in restarting direct peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel.

Egyptian presidential spokesman Suleiman Awwad did not disclose details of the U.S. assurances, which come on the eve of a crucial Arab League meeting to determine the future of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is under intense international pressure to restart direct peace talks with Israel frozen in 2008.

Arab foreign ministers will meet Thursday to consider the matter of direct talks, potentially adding more pressure on the Palestinian president.

Mr. Abbas has insisted he will only upgrade the current U.S.-mediated indirect talks with Israel if it agrees to a halt on settlement construction and accept a Palestinian state in West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to be pinned down on a framework for negotiations.

SLOVENIA

Slovenia, Croatia in bid to settle disputes

OBREZJE | The foreign ministers of Slovenia and Croatia met Wednesday to speed up efforts to resolve a 19-year dispute over Croatian savings blocked in a Slovenian bank, officials said.

The talks came ahead of a meeting on Saturday between the two countries’ prime ministers on unresolved issues relating to the settling of a long-running border row last year.

“Gradually and persistently we are building up mutual trust, respect, which are the basis for strengthening collaboration and partnership,” Slovenian Foreign Minister Samuel Zbogar said ahead of the talks with his Croatian counterpart, Gordan Jandrokovic, at Obrezje, a village on the Slovenian side of the border with Croatia.

More than 130,000 Croatian citizens claim some $208 million in savings deposited in Slovenian group Ljubljanska Banka before the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Supertanker damage raises alarm in Gulf

DUBAI | A Japanese shipping line raised alarm Wednesday that one of its supertankers was damaged by an explosion in a possible attack in the Persian Gulf, but authorities on both sides of the tense waterway denied that any strike occurred.

Details of what happened as the hulking M. Star tanker steered its way through the strategically sensitive Strait of Hormuz remain murky. The U.S. Navy fleet that patrols the region acknowledged reports of an explosion aboard the ship but said the cause of the blast is unclear.

Local officials cited natural causes, such as an unusually strong wave that slammed into the side of the ship.

A photo released by the Emirates state news agency WAM after the tanker arrived in Fujairah port for inspections showed a large, square-shaped dent beginning near the waterline on the rear starboard side of the ship’s hull.

The incident happened shortly after midnight as the M. Star entered the strait, heading out of the Gulf, Japanese shipping company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines said.

GERMANY

Nazi suspect charged in Germany

BERLIN | The world’s third most-wanted Nazi suspect, who lived undisturbed for decades after World War II, has been charged in Germany with participating in the murder of 430,000 Jews while serving as a low-ranking guard at a death camp.

Samuel Kunz, 88, had long been ignored by the German justice system, partly because of a lack of interest in going after relatively minor Nazi figures. But in the past 10 years, a younger generation of prosecutors has sought to bring all surviving suspects to justice.

Authorities recently stumbled over Mr. Kunz’s case as they were studying old documents from German postwar trials about an SS training camp named Trawniki. The papers were being reviewed in connection with the trial of John Demjanjuk, the 90-year-old retired autoworker on trial in Munich for allegedly serving as a guard at the infamous Sobibor camp.

Mr. Kunz was named the No. 3 suspect in April by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He ranked fairly low in the Nazi hierarchy, but he was among the most-wanted suspects because of the large number of Jews he is accused of helping to kill.

Mr. Kunz had been living quietly at his home near the western city of Bonn. He received a letter last week saying he had been charged with three different cases of participating in the murder of Jews, authorities said.

He allegedly served as a guard at the Belzec camp in occupied Poland from January 1942 to July 1943.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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