- - Thursday, February 9, 2012

CHINA

Diplomat: Syria veto won’t hurt U.S. ties

BEIJING | U.S. outrage over Beijing’s veto of a U.N. resolution on Syria won’t affect cooperation on other international issues, a top Chinese diplomat said Thursday, as Beijing announced it recently had hosted a leading Syrian opposition figure.

Last week’s double veto by China and Russia of the resolution that would have endorsed an Arab League plan for ending the Syrian bloodshed deeply angered the U.S., Europe and the Arab League.

In a sign Beijing is staying engaged, however, the Foreign Ministry said China this month hosted a four-day visit by Haytham Manna, a Paris-based dissident who heads the external branch of a group called the National Committee for Democratic Change.

Mr. Manna met with a vice foreign minister to enable China to better understand the situation in Syria and maintain contacts and communication with the opposition, ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told reporters.

PAKISTAN

Al Qaeda-linked militant killed in airstrike

DERA ISMAIL KHAN | A U.S. drone fired two missiles at a house in Pakistan’s northwest tribal region Thursday, killing five militant suspects, intelligence officials said.

The Taliban identified one of them as a prominent commander who has served as a key link to al Qaeda.

The commander, Badar Mansoor, led a group of more than 200 Pakistani Taliban fighters in the North Waziristan tribal area, the main sanctuary for militants in Pakistan, said a fellow insurgent.

Pakistani intelligence officials could not confirm he was one of the five militant suspects killed in the strike in the main bazaar in Miran Shah, the biggest town in North Waziristan.

The strike was the second in as many days in North Waziristan, an indication the drone program is picking up steam again after a slowdown caused by tensions with Pakistan over accidental American airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last year.

MALDIVES

Court issue warrant for former president

MALE | A Maldives court issued an arrest warrant Thursday for former President Mohamed Nasheed, one day after his supporters rampaged in the capital and his claim of being ousted by a coup left unclear the stability of the fledging Indian Ocean democracy.

Police spokesman Abdul Mannan Yusuf refused to disclose the grounds for the criminal court’s warrant, or say when Mr. Nasheed - who is living at his Male home, surrounded by supporters - would be arrested.

Later, police Commissioner Abdullah Riaz said it was not clear if the warrant was constitutional. He declined to provide details but said the warrant’s legality was still being examined.

Mr. Nasheed had announced he was voluntarily resigning Tuesday after months of protests against his rule and fading support from the police and the army.

But the next day, as former Vice President Mohammed Waheed Hassan was forming a new government, Mr. Nasheed suddenly announced he actually had been pushed from power at gunpoint.

The dispute threatens the crucial tourism industry of this mostly Muslim nation of 300,000 people, which relies on dozens of high-end resorts that cater to the rich and famous.

INDONESIA

Bali bombing trial to start Monday

JAKARTA | An Indonesian accused of making the explosives used in the 2002 Bali bombings is scheduled to go on trial next week on terrorism and murder charges, a court official said Thursday.

Umar Patek, 41, was Asia’s most wanted terror suspect, with a $1 million bounty on his head, when authorities caught up with him Jan. 25, 2011, in Abbottabad, Pakistan - the same town where Osama bin Laden was killed in a U.S. commando attack four months later.

He will be tried at the West Jakarta District Court beginning Monday, said court spokesman Mirdin Alamsyah. Another court official, Ricar Nasution, said the five-judge panel would be led by the court’s chief, Lexsy Mamoto.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports