World Briefs: SWIFT financial service cuts ties with Iran

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IRAN

BRUSSELS — The SWIFT global financial transaction service said Thursday that it was cutting ties with Iranian banks that are subject to European Union sanctions aimed at discouraging the country from developing nuclear weapons.

The action effectively enforces EU sanctions because the world’s financial transactions are impossible without using SWIFT, and it will go a long way toward isolating Iran financially.

The company’s name stands for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication. It is a banking hub crucial to oil, financial transactions and other trades.

FRANCE

Police use tear gas on steelworkers

PARIS — French police fired tear gas at steelworkers Thursday as they tried to force their way toward the headquarters of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s re-election campaign.

About 200 workers from an ArcelorMittal plant in Florange in northeast France came to Paris in buses as part of a protest movement that started last month to try to save jobs at the factory. They blame Mr. Sarkozy’s conservative government for not doing enough to save the plant.

They were confronted by riot police who tried to push the protesters back with shields. After several minutes of fighting, the police fired tear gas to break up the crowd.

PAKISTAN

Parliament to discuss U.S. ties next week

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s parliament will debate new terms of engagement with the United States next week, a process expected to pave the way for the reopening of NATO and U.S. supply routes into Afghanistan, lawmakers and government officials said.

Ties have been frozen since American airstrikes accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at the Afghan border in November, complicating U.S. efforts to negotiate an end to the war in neighboring Afghanistan because Islamabad’s cooperation in that process is seen as vital in that endeavor.

ITALY

Police arrest terror suspect

MILAN — Italian police arrested a Moroccan man early Thursday on suspicion of plotting an attack on a Milan synagogue after observing that the suspect had used a Google maps application to check security there, authorities said.

The chief suspect, identified only as a 20-year-old worker who had lived in Italy since age 6, was arrested in the northern city of

NORWAY

Police regret response to massacre

OSLO — Norwegian police admitted for the first time Thursday that they could have responded faster to a youth camp shooting massacre that left 69 people dead in July.

Presenting the results of an internal evaluation, police officials said the response was slowed by flaws in communication and other mishaps, including the breakdown of an overloaded boat that was carrying a SWAT team to the scene of the shooting on Utoya island.

Brescia, 60 miles east of Milan.

PERU

Illegal gold miners riot in Amazon

LIMA — Thousands of illegal gold miners battled police for control of a regional capital in the Amazon basin Wednesday, with at least three people killed by gunfire.

Outnumbered riot police fired tear gas at an estimated 12,500 miners who wielded clubs and rocks and tried to seize strategic facilities in Puerto Maldonado.

The miners are fighting government efforts to regulate small-scale gold extraction, which is ravaging the rain forest, contaminating it with tons of mercury.

UKRAINE

Tymoshenko denied medical treatment

KIEV — Jailed former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has not been allowed to receive treatment in a specialized clinic outside of her prison, as recommended by German doctors, prison officials and supporters said Thursday.

Mrs. Tymoshenko, 51, the country’s top opposition leader, is serving a seven-year jail sentence for abuse of office after a verdict condemned by the West as politically motivated. She has a spinal hernia and suffers from constant and intense pain, according to her daughter, Eugenia Tymoshenko.

German doctors have concluded after examining her that she urgently needs complex treatment, which should be conducted in a specialized facility, not in prison.

Penitentiary Service spokesman Ihor Andrushko said that Mrs. Tymoshenko has been offered medication, massages and other procedures for her condition to be administered inside the prison. He said she had refused the offer.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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