- - Tuesday, July 12, 2011

EGYPT

Military warns protesters against violence

CAIRO — Egypt’s military rulers sternly warned protesters Tuesday against “harming public interests” as demonstrators continued to lay siege to Cairo’s largest government building and threatened to expand their sit-in to other sites in the capital.

The military also rejected criticism of its handling of Egypt’s transition to democratic rule, vowing not to give up its interim role in managing the country’s affairs until an elected government takes over.

It also pledged to produce binding regulations for the selection of a constituent assembly that will draft a new constitution, allaying fears by many Egyptians that Islamists — likely to dominate parliamentary elections due in September — would elect an assembly that would give the document an Islamic slant.

IRAN

Iran offers IAEA cooperation but sets condition

VIENNA — Iran’s foreign minister said Tuesday his country is ready to cooperate more closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) but only if it cancels its probe into allegations that Tehran has worked secretly on a nuclear weapons program — a condition rejected by the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

The agency already has accused Iran of stalling the investigation, and that has become a major source of international tension over Iran’s nuclear program.

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran is ready to work “closer than ever before” with the U.N. nuclear agency if it first ends the investigation.

SYRIA

Syria says Clinton comments are ‘provocation’

BEIRUT — Syria accused Washington of provocation Tuesday after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said President Bashar Assad had lost legitimacy and was “not indispensable.”

Both the U.S. and France strongly criticized Syria after pro-government mobs attacked the American and French embassies in Damascus on Monday, smashing windows and spray-painting obscenities and graffiti on the walls.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry condemned Mrs. Clinton’s statement as “a provocative reaction.”

“Syria stresses that the legitimacy of its political leadership is based neither on the United States nor on others; it is exclusively from the will of the Syrian people,” the statement said.

LIBYA

Rebel-held east warned of water shortages

TRIPOLI — Libyan officials warn that the lack of maintenance on the country’s water system because of the civil war might mean the rebel-controlled east soon could be denied water.

Agriculture Minister Abdel Maguid al-Gaud told journalists Tuesday that only one of six turbines in the power plant pumping water from deep desert aquifers to rebel-held Benghazi is working.

The project, known as the Great Man-Made River, provides 70 percent of the arid country’s water.

MOROCCO

Rights group says referendum was rigged

RABAT — A human rights group on Tuesday said Moroccan authorities violated their obligation of impartiality by using religion and the media to promote a “yes” vote in the recent constitutional referendum.

“The use of mosques and [Islamic] brotherhoods as well as the state domination of media” during the referendum campaign amounted to “discrimination based on public opinion and an illegal use of public goods,” the Moroccan Human Rights Association said in a report released at a press conference here.

It said “state agents, elected officials and associations mobilized public transport means to bring voters to polling stations and urged them to vote ‘yes.’ “

More than 98 percent of voters backed the new constitution put forward by King Mohammed VI in a July 1 referendum after he faced pro-democracy protests inspired by uprisings throughout the Arab world.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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