World Briefs: Defense minister talks tough on Iran’s nuclear program

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JERUSALEM — Israel’s defense minister warned Monday that as long as Iran poses a threat to Israel with its nuclear program, all options are on the table, a reference to a possible Israeli attack.

Ehud Barak was speaking before the Foreign Press Association, which represents journalists covering Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Israel and the West suspect Iran is trying obtain nuclear weapons. Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful.

Mr. Barak said: “I believe it is well understood in Washington, D.C., as well as in Jerusalem that as long as there is an existential threat to our people, all options to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons should remain on the table.”

Israel considers Iran a threat to its existence because of its nuclear and missile development programs, its leaders’ frequent reference to Israel’s destruction, and Iran’s support of violent anti-Israeli groups in Lebanon and Gaza.

BANGLADESH

Police charge 44 activists in bombings, vandalism

DHAKA — Police charged 44 opposition activists, including several senior leaders, with involvement in bombings and vandalism during an opposition-sponsored general strike that disrupted life across Bangladesh for a second day Monday.

The strike was called to protest the disappearance of an opposition official, Elias Ali, which his party blames on the government and security agencies.

The government denies involvement, and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has accused the opposition of hiding Mr. Ali to create anarchy in the South Asian country.

YEMEN

U.N. envoy asks ex-president to stop meddling in state affairs

SANAA — The U.N. envoy to Yemen met Monday with the country’s former president to press him to stop meddling in the country’s affairs, diplomats said, a sign of continuing political instability that has emboldened al Qaeda.

The meeting between U.N. envoy Jamal Benomar and the former leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh, came after his son appointed a relative to head a new security unit, defying orders from the current president.

In February, Mr. Saleh handed power to his deputy, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, in an internationally backed agreement.

Since then, Mr. Saleh has been accused of obstructing Mr. Hadi’s attempts to purge Mr. Saleh’s loyalists from security agencies.

The internal conflict, marked by huge demonstrations against Mr. Saleh and violent government repression, has been going on for more than a year. During the political turmoil, al Qaeda-linked militants have taken over parts of the south.

PAKISTAN

CIA ‘blood money’ focus of probe in two killings

ISLAMABAD — The widow and mother-in-law of a Pakistani man killed by a CIA contractor last year were slain Monday, allegedly by the widow’s father who may have feared she would remarry and take with her the “blood money” she received, police said.

The families of the two men killed by Raymond Allen Davis in January 2011 received hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for pardoning the killer, a common legal practice in Pakistan. The money normally goes to the widow if her husband was killed.

Zohra Haider, the widow who was murdered Monday in the eastern city of Lahore, wanted to remarry and was supported by her mother, Nabeela Bibi, police Officer Athar Waheed said.

But her father, Shahzad Butt, opposed the move, possibly because she would take her fortune with her when she remarried, Officer Waheed said.

“We will investigate that aspect as a possible motive,” Officer Waheed said.

Officer Waheed said Mr. Butt fatally shot his wife after having an argument about the issue in their house in a middle-class neighborhood in Lahore that they bought with the blood money.

He then chased his daughter as she tried to escape and fatally shot her in the street before fleeing, Officer Waheed said.

LIBYA

Arab League backs Libya in quest to try Gadhafi’s son

CAIRO — The Arab League is backing Libya’s intention to try a son of deposed ruler Moammar Gadhafi at home instead of turning him over to the International Criminal Court.

The court has insisted that Libya hand over Seif al-Islam for trial on charges of murdering civilians during the uprising that toppled his father’s regime last year.

The Arab League said in a statement Monday that it supports Libya’s right to try him.

Seif al-Islam, considered his father’s heir-apparent, was captured last year. He is being held in the western town of Zintan.

The ICC dismissed Libya’s latest appeal, but the court cannot force Libya to comply with its order to turn over Seif al-Islam.

There is concern that Libya’s judicial system may not be ready to give him a fair trial.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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