- - Wednesday, January 18, 2012

NETHERLANDS

Netanyahu lauds Dutch for standing against Iran

THE HAGUE — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid tribute Wednesday to the Dutch government, which he said supported Israel’s stance for tough sanctions on Iran.

Speaking at Amsterdam’s historic Portuguese Synagogue, Mr. Netanyahu, who is on a two-day working visit to the Netherlands, also compared Israel to his host country as “small, but great in spirit.”

“The one issue in which we stand together is in opposing Iran’s nuclear ambitions,” he said to loud applause by the audience, mainly members of the Netherlands‘ 45,000-strong Jewish community.

“I thank the Dutch government for their strong stance on sanctions against Iran,” Mr. Netanyahu said, adding that sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank and its oil exports “must be applied now.”

European governments are set to implement an Iranian oil embargo by the start of July, giving companies time to phase out existing contracts, EU diplomats said this week.

CHINA

Premier stresses need to keep oil strait open

DOHA, QatarChina’s premier, touring the oil-rich Persian Gulf on Wednesday stressed the importance of keeping the Strait of Hormuz open, in reaction to Iran’s threat to close the strategic waterway.

During a visit to the Qatari capital, Doha, Wen Jiabao said ensuring the security of the strait is in all nations’ interests. About a sixth of the world’s oil supply flows through the narrow strait.

“Any extremist action in this region will go against the will of all people in the world,” he said after meetings with Qatar’s ruling emir and other officials.

China is a major customer for Iran’s oil and gas. It has opposed tighter sanctions on Iran regarding Tehran’s disputed nuclear program and has called for a Middle East free of atomic weapons.

AFGHANISTAN

Militants kill 16 in two attacks

KANDAHAR — Two attacks just hours apart killed 16 people and wounded more than 20 others on Wednesday in the insurgency-wracked southern Afghan province of Helmand, officials said.

A suicide bomber on a motorcycle killed 10 civilians and two policemen in the first attack at a bazaar, while an intelligence official was among the dead in a second blast caused by a land mine, which was claimed by the Taliban.

Two hours later, a local intelligence official, two bodyguards and a civilian were killed in a land-mine explosion, said Daud Ahmadi, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

CUBA

Al Qaeda magazine found in Guantanamo jail

U.S. NAVAL BASE AT GUANTANAMO BAY — An al Qaeda magazine was discovered after being smuggled into Guantanamo prison, a senior US official said Wednesday amid a debate on new rules for mail inspections.

Prison staffers found an English-language copy of Inspire magazine, deputy military prosecutor Andrea Lockhart said at a military tribunal hearing.

She did not specify how the magazine, which is published by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was smuggled into the remote U.S. base in southern Cuba or whether it was discovered during a search of the cells.

But Ms. Lockhart said new rules for inspecting the mail between lawyers and detainees were invoked on Dec, 27, after the discovery. The new rules have been challenged by lawyers as a violation of their clients’ rights.

ISRAEL

Troops kill suspected Palestinian terrorists

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli forces on Wednesday attacked a group of suspected Palestinian militants believed to have been planting a bomb along Gaza’s border with the Jewish state, the Israeli military said. Palestinian officials said two people were killed and two wounded.

Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers said the victims were all civilians and that it held Israel responsible, raising the prospect of a new round of attacks across the volatile border.

The Israeli military said aircraft and tanks participated in the attack after the militants were spotted along the border. “An explosion was identified, originating from the explosive device the terrorists attempted to plant,” the military said.

UNITED KINGDOM

Flotilla to celebrate queen’s 60-year reign

LONDON — Palace officials Wednesday announced details of a massive pageant on London’s River Thames to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee year.

Plans call for roughly 1,000 boats of various sizes to gather June 3 for an unprecedented tribute to the queen, who is marking the 60th year of her reign.

The flotilla will be more than 7 miles long and include barges on which original musical works composed for the jubilee will be performed. The event is planned to celebrate Britain’s fabled maritime history.

The queen, her husband, Prince Philip, and other senior royals — likely including Prince William and his wife, the former Kate Middleton — will travel on board a royal barge, The Spirit of Chartwell, an opulent cruising vessel that regularly plies the Thames.

From wire dispatches and staff reports