- - Tuesday, November 30, 2010

WEST BANK

Palestinian leader: Statehood by August

BANI HASSAN | Palestinians will be ready for statehood by August, as promised in a two-year action plan, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said in an interview Tuesday, dismissing a host of steep obstacles to independence.

The former World Bank economist visited a rural West Bank road destroyed by Israel to demonstrate his conviction that independence is inevitable as long as Palestinians don’t lose faith.

Israeli troops tore up the road last week on grounds that it was paved in a nature reserve in an area under full Israeli rule. Mr. Fayyad pledged to repair the road immediately as part of his new campaign to challenge exclusive Israeli control over large tracts of the West Bank.

“This is where the struggle is, in the rural areas,” Mr. Fayyad said during the ride back to his office in Ramallah.

IRAN

Nuke talks to resume in Geneva next week

BRUSSELS | Negotiations between Iran and Western powers on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will resume next week in Geneva, more than a year after they ground to a halt with sanctions having multiplied.

After months of cat-and-mouse offers and counterbids, the talks are scheduled to restart in Switzerland on Monday and Tuesday, the office of the European Union’s chief diplomat, Catherine Ashton, announced Tuesday.

Iranian chief negotiator Said Jalili will meet with Ms. Ashton, who will lead the international delegation, a spokesman said, in the same city where the last talks dissolved in October 2009.

EGYPT

Court upholds ruling on Christian remarriage

CAIRO | An Egyptian court on Tuesday threw out a challenge to its ruling that Orthodox Copts can remarry, challenging the church’s stance on an issue that has added to tensions between Egypt’s Muslims and the Christian minority.

Divorce and remarriage are more acceptable among Egypt’s Muslims than most members of the Orthodox Coptic church, which allows it only in special cases such as adultery.

Christians, mostly Orthodox Copts, make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s 79 million population.

Sectarian clashes have become more common in recent years, often sparked by cases of interfaith relationships, land disputes and church construction licenses.

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