- - Monday, December 19, 2011

EUROPE

Rights groups accuse Europe of CIA cover-up

LONDON — The majority of 28 mostly European countries have failed to comply with freedom-of-information requests about their involvement in secret CIA flights carrying suspected terrorists, two human rights groups said Monday.

London-based Reprieve and Madrid-based Access Info Europe accused European nations of covering up their complicity in the so-called “extraordinary rendition” program by failing to release flight-traffic data that could show the paths of the planes.

The groups said only seven of 28 countries had supplied the requested information. Five countries said they no longer had the data, three refused to release it and 13 had not replied more than 10 weeks after the requests were made.

Europe’s silence is in contrast to the United States, which handed over Federal Aviation Administration records with data on more than 27,000 flight segments.

AFGHANISTAN

NATO: Raids to go on with Afghan participation

KABUL — NATO will carry out night-time kill-and-capture raids that target suspected insurgents with increased Afghan partnership, after repeated protests by President Hamid Karzai, the alliance said Monday.

Spokesman Brig. Gen. Carsten Jacobson said that Afghan special forces now take part in nearly all night raids and their participation is constantly increasing.

The raids have become a flash point for anger over foreign meddling in Afghanistan and whether detention operations will be run by the Afghans or Americans.

Mr. Karzai has demanded that foreign troops stop entering homes, saying Afghan citizens cannot feel secure if they think armed soldiers might burst into their houses in the middle of the night.

Mr. Karzai’s office said in a statement that during a National Security Council meeting late Sunday, the president emphasized the need to prevent civilian casualties, saying the casualties and the night raids on homes “have created serious problems.”

IRAN

Diplomats say Iran invites nuke aides

VIENNA — Diplomats say Iran has reinstated a previously withdrawn offer to U.N. nuclear agency officials to visit Tehran.

But they tell the Associated Press that Tehran is not saying if the officials will be able to focus on suspicions that it is secretly working on nuclear arms.

The four diplomats said Monday that International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) - the U.N. nuclear watchdog - is seeking such a pledge from Iran as a condition for such a visit.

A senior diplomat said a top-level IAEA mission could fly to Tehran in late January - but only if Iran agrees to cooperate on the issue.

The diplomats asked for anonymity because their information was confidential.

Iran says all of its nuclear activities are peaceful.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

U.S. special forces hunt for rebel leader

BANGUI — U.S. special forces have set up a base in the Central African Republic as part of their regional hunt for fighters from the Ugandan-born Lord’s Resistance Army group, military sources said Monday.

“The deployment of this contingent, the size of which is unknown, was carried out very discreetly with Ugandan military aircraft,” a Central African military official said on the condition of anonymity.

The U.S. elite troops set up a base in Obo and are expected to coordinate their efforts with local government forces and Ugandan soldiers.

President Obama in October announced he was sending 100 special forces soldiers to Kampala to help Uganda track down Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) chief Joseph Kony, an international fugitive who has wreaked havoc over four nations for more than two decades.

Besides Obo, the U.S. forces also have a forward base in South Sudan. They began deploying in Uganda earlier this month.

The rebels currently number several hundred, a fraction of their strength at their peak, but still include a core of hardened fighters infamous for mutilating civilians and abducting children for soldiers and sex slaves.

UKRAINE

EU: Tymoshenko case: stalling Ukraine’s accession

KIEV — The European Union told Ukraine on Monday that the jailing of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko had stalled the signing of an agreement taking Kiev a step closer to membership of the bloc.

EU President Herman Van Rompuy said after talks with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in Kiev that the signing of the deal depended on “political circumstances,” citing Mrs. Tymoshenko’s case.

The summit between Mr. Van Rompuy, EU commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso and Mr. Yanukovych ended, as had been widely expected, with the wording of the deal finalized but no signatures.

Mrs. Tymoshenko was sentenced in October to seven years in jail for abuse of authority for the gas contracts she agreed to with Russia in 2009, a verdict the EU called politically motivated.

Mr. Yanukovych, her long-time opponent, denied any involvement in the case.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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