- - Monday, September 5, 2011

YEMEN

Ruling party set to discuss road map

SANAA | Yemen’s ruling party is to meet to discuss a U.N.-proposed road map for embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh to hand over power to his deputy, a party official said Monday.

“The general committee of the General People’s Congress [GPC] will meet within the next few days to discuss the road map,” in line with a call from Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, the official told Agence France-Presse, requesting anonymity.

The U.N. road map was drawn up in two weeks of talks in July held by U.N. envoy Jamal Benomar in Yemen with the opposition and leading figures of the GPC, according to opposition sources and a Western diplomat.

They said the plan has four points, including a handover of power by Mr. Saleh to his deputy, Mr. Hadi, followed immediately by talks on a transitional period ranging from three to six months.

The interim period would see the formation of a reconciliation government, the restructuring of military bodies and preparations for and setting a date for a new presidential election.

FRANCE

Ex-leader Chirac can skip corruption trial

PARIS | A Paris judge has ruled that former French President Jacques Chirac will not be required to attend his long-awaited corruption trial after his lawyers said the 78-year-old is suffering memory lapses.

Judge Dominique Pauthe said Monday he took into account an appeal by Mr. Chirac’s defense team and said the trial will be allowed to go ahead without the ex-president in court.

France’s first trial involving a former head of state since World War II is to run through Sept. 23. It was suspended shortly after it began in March so a higher court could rule on an appeal by one of the co-defendants.

The trial involves two cases centering on the alleged creation of more than two dozen fake City Hall jobs used to fund Mr. Chirac’s conservative party while he was mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.

PAKISTAN

Pakistan detains top al Qaeda suspect

ISLAMABAD | A battered al Qaeda suffered another significant blow when Pakistani agents working with the CIA arrested a senior leader believed to have been tasked by Osama bin Laden with targeting American economic interests around the globe, Pakistan announced Monday.

Younis al-Mauritani’s arrest - made public five days before the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks - was seen as damaging al Qaeda’s central leadership in Pakistan, further degrading its ability to mount terrorist attacks abroad.

The terrorist organization has seen its senior ranks thinned since Osama bin Laden was killed May 2 along with Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, the group’s No. 2, in a CIA missile strike last month.

Pakistan’s public announcement of close cooperation with the U.S. spy agency appeared aimed at reversing the widespread perception that ties between the CIA and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency had been badly damaged by the U.S. killing of bin Laden inside Pakistan.

The Pakistani military said the arrest of Mauritani and two other al Qaeda operatives took place near the Afghan border in the southwestern city of Quetta, long known as a base for militants. It did not say when.

The arrests were carried out in the past two weeks, according to a U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

JAPAN

Typhoon brings more misery

TOKYO | Japan braced for more heavy rain and floods Monday as the death toll from the worst typhoon to hit the country in seven years climbed to 34.

Rescuers searched for 55 others who remained missing, and tens of thousands of families struggled without power or telephone service.

Typhoon Talas, which was later downgraded to a tropical storm, lashed coastal areas with destructive winds and record-setting rains over the weekend before moving offshore into the Sea of Japan.

Thousands were stranded as it washed out bridges, railways and roads.

The destruction added more misery to a nation still reeling from a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami six months ago.

UKRAINE

Tymoshenko backers scuffle with police

KIEV | Police in riot gear ripped down a protest encampment in the center of Kiev on Monday, scuffling with supporters of jailed former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Tensions are growing as Mrs. Tymoshenko’s abuse-of-office trial draws to a close, and a verdict is expected later this month.

She was arrested in August on charges of contempt of court during a trial she has described as being politically motivated.

Mrs. Tymoshenko’s supporters have been holding protests at an encampment outside Kiev’s Pechersk court, where the trial is taking place.

Demonstrators erected five new tents across the street from the courthouse Monday, prompting police to take action.

Police moved in and tore down the tents, and detained several demonstrators who tried to resist. They would not comment on the operation.