- - Monday, August 8, 2011

AFGHANISTAN

U.S. troops killed targeting Taliban leader

KABUL — The 30 U.S. troops and eight Afghans who died in a helicopter crash in eastern Afghanistan were on a mission targeting a Taliban leader when an insurgent fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the chopper and shot it down, the U.S.-led coalition said Monday.

The Chinook helicopter was transporting the troops to an ongoing battle early Saturday between coalition forces and insurgents in eastern Wardak province, NATO said in a statement.

It was the deadliest single loss for U.S. forces in the decadelong war.

NATO said the operation began as a search for a Taliban leader responsible for terrorist operations in the Tangi Valley, when the ground forces saw several militants armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers and AK-47 assault rifles and engaged them, killing some of them. They then called for assistance.

CZECH REPUBLIC

Klaus criticizes ambassadors for supporting gay-pride day

PRAGUE — President Vaclav Klaus lashed out Monday at 13 foreign ambassadors for signing a petition to support the first gay pride festival in the Czech capital, which takes place Wednesday.

Mr. Klaus said he considered the statement by the diplomats based in Prague, including U.S. Ambassador Norman Eisen, an “unprecedented step.” He added that he could not imagine any Czech ambassador would dare use a petition to influence a political discussion in any democratic country.

In their statement, the ambassadors expressed their “solidarity with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in the Czech Republic, supporting their right to use the occasion to march together peacefully and lawfully, in order to raise awareness of the specific issues that affect them.”

EUROPEAN UNION

Chad criticized for failing to arrest Sudan leader

BRUSSELS — The European Union expressed concern Monday about a second visit to Chad by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, saying he should have been arrested Sunday under an International Criminal Court warrant.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton urged Chad “to respect its obligations under international law to arrest and surrender those indicted by the ICC,” the statement said.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant last year for Mr. Bashir on charges that he orchestrated genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan, where as many as 300,000 people have died since 2003.

ISRAEL

Chinese military chief due for first visit

JERUSALEM — The Chinese military’s chief of staff will visit Israel next week for the first time, the Israeli military said Monday, in what may signal a renewed warming of ties between the Jewish state and Beijing.

Gen. Chen Bingde will be a guest of the Israeli military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, the military said.

His visit follows Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s trip to China two months ago. That was the first visit of an Israeli defense minister in a decade.

INDIA

New Tibetan leader sworn in as prime minister

DHARMSALA — A Harvard-trained legal scholar was sworn in Monday as prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, taking over from the Dalai Lama as the official leader of his people’s fight for freedom.

Lobsang Sangay immediately confronted a host of challenges.

He is the first secular figure to ever lead the deeply religious Tibetan community. He was born in the eastern Indian town of Darjeeling and has never visited Tibet.

China has rejected his legitimacy and refuses to negotiate with him.

It would be almost unthinkable for him to veer from the policies set by the revered Dalai Lama. Mr. Sangay was chosen by a tiny fraction of Tibetans abroad during April elections, making it difficult for him to claim he represents all his people.

SWITZERLAND

Iranian exiles demonstrate for UN, U.S. protection

GENEVA — Some 200 people demonstrated at the European headquarters of the United Nations on Monday, demanding U.S. and United Nations protection for Iranian exiles at the Ashraf refugee camp in Iraq.

“If something happens in Ashraf, the [United Nations] will be held responsible,” Maryam Rajavi, head of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, told the protestors, some of whom have staged a sit-in since an April raid by Iraqi forces left more than 30 people dead.

“We also tell United States authorities they will be held accountable to any incident in Ashraf,” she added.

The fate of the 30-year-old camp, located near the border with Iran and home to some 3,400 people, mostly Iranians, has been in the spotlight since an Iraqi security raid in April left 34 dead and scores injured.

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