- - Thursday, December 27, 2012

IRAN

TEHRAN — An Iranian official says the country may open a controversial military site to inspectors of the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

A Thursday report by independent Mardomsalari daily quotes Deputy Foreign Minister Hasan Qashqavi as saying the inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency may visit Parchin military site “if the foreign threats weaken.” He did not elaborate.

As high government officials rarely speak out on such sensitive issues, Mr. Qashqavi’s remarks were seen as echoing the views of Iran’s leadership.

Earlier this month, IAEA inspectors on a trip to Tehran failed to visit Parchin, where they believe Iran has carried out some nuclear experiments.

Iran says Parchin is only a conventional military site, and denies the West’s claims its nuclear program has a military dimension.

ARGENTINA

Ex-economy minister sentenced for corruption

BUENOS AIRES — A former Argentine economy minister was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison for corruption.

Felisa Miceli was forced to quit in 2007, when Argentine pesos and U.S. dollars worth the combined equivalent of $52,000 were found in her office bathroom.

The unanimous ruling said Miceli was guilty of the “aggravated cover-up” on an illegal financial maneuver and obstruction of justice for getting rid of a police report about the money.

The local court also ruled that Miceli will be barred from holding any public office position for eight years.

The money was found by the federal police’s explosives unit in a closet inside the office bathroom while it was inspecting the Economy Ministry.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

Ex-economy minister 
sentenced for corruption

BANGUI — The president of Central African Republic on Thursday urgently called on former colonial master France and other foreign powers to help his government fend off rebels who are quickly seizing territory and approaching this capital city.

But French officials declined to offer any military assistance, and the U.S. closed its embassy in Bangui.

About 200 French soldiers are already in the country to provide technical support and help train the local army. French President Francois Hollande said Thursday that France wants to protect its interests in the Central African Republic and not the government of President Francois Bozize.

The comments were made a day after dozens of protesters, angry about a lack of help against rebel forces, threw rocks at the French Embassy in Bangui and stole a French flag. Despite the U.S. Embassy closure, the State Department said it had not broken off diplomatic ties with the beleaguered government. But State but also warned U.S. citizens not to travel there.

RUSSIA

Putin says he will sign anti-U.S. adoptions bill

MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin said Thursday he will sign a controversial bill barring Americans from adopting Russian children, while the Kremlin’s children’s rights advocate recommended extending the ban to the rest of the world.

The bill is part of the country’s increasingly confrontational stance with the West and has angered some Russians who argue it victimizes children to make a political point.

The law would block dozens of Russian children now in the process of being adopted by American families from leaving the country and cut off a major route out of often-dismal orphanages.

The U.S. is the biggest destination for adopted Russian children — more than 60,000 of them have been taken in by Americans over the past two decades.

“I still don’t see any reasons why I should not sign it,” Mr. Putin said at a televised meeting. He went on to say that he “intends” to do so.

SOUTH SUDAN

S. Sudan accuses Sudan of air attack killing 5

NAIROBI, Kenya — South Sudan says Sudan has launched attacks inside its territory, killing at least five people.

Military spokesman Col. Philip Aguer said Thursday that the attacks came on Christmas Day, and killed three women and two children.

Col. Aguer said Antonov warplanes bombed the village of Werguet, in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state, while ground forces working with “militiamen” attacked nearby Kiir Adem. Col. Aguer said the areas are part of South Sudan.

The areas are near the Kiir River, the southern boundary of a 14-mile strip of territory claimed by both countries.

Sudan and South Sudan reached an oil and border security deal in August that called for the area to be demilitarized until its final status could be determined.

A Sudanese government spokesman couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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