- - Sunday, September 16, 2012

CAIRO — Sudan’s president, Omar Bashir, met Sunday with his Egyptian counterpart in Cairo, thus defying of the International Criminal Court’s two arrest warrants against him for a suspected role in his country’s turbulent western Darfur region.

The visit underlines a renewed interest in cooperation between the two neighbors, after what many saw as a period of neglect in the years before Egypt’s new Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was elected this summer.

Relations largely deteriorated after former President Hosni Mubarak accused Sudan of harboring those suspected of being behind an assassination attempt against him in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa in 1995.

Prior to the trip, London-based Amnesty International called on Cairo to withdraw its invitation to the Sudanese leader or arrest him on arrival, but Egypt does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction and instead welcomed Lt. Gen. Bashir at the airport with a delegation led by Vice President Mahmoud Mekki.

It was at least Gen. Bashir’s third visit to Egypt since an arrest warrant was issued in 2009.

CHINA

Thousands protest Japan’s islands purchase

BEIJING — Thousands of anti-Japanese demonstrators mounted protests in cities across China on Sunday over disputed islands in the East China Sea, a day after an attempt to storm Tokyo’s embassy in the capital.

Beijing was infuriated last week when Japan said it had bought the rocky outcrops. While the authorities often suppress demonstrations, many of Sunday’s events took place with police escorting marchers with state-run media calling the protests “reasonable”.

Demonstrators in the southern city of Shenzhen, some holding a banner calling for a “bloodbath” in Tokyo, clashed with riot police, who fired tear gas to disperse the crowd, Hong Kong broadcaster Cable TV reported.

It also showed footage of more than 1,000 protesters burning Japanese flags in the nearby southern city of Guangzhou and storming a hotel next to the Japanese consulate. Chinese state media reported a turnout of more than 10,000.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda called on China to ensure the safety of Japanese citizens and businesses after widespread protests on Saturday saw attacks on individuals, establishments and Japanese-built cars.

IRAN

Foundation raises bounty on Rushdie

TEHRAN — A semiofficial religious foundation in Iran has increased a reward it had offered for the killing of British author Salman Rushdie to $3.3 million from $2.8 million, a newspaper reported, days after protests erupted through the Muslim world over alleged insults to the Prophet Muhammad.

Hard-line Jomhoori Eslami daily and other newspapers reported Sunday that the move appeared to be linked to protests about an amateurish anti-Islam video clip, which crowds in some 20 countries said drove them to defend their faith and in some cases by attack American embassies.

The report said the 15 Khordad Foundation will pay the higher reward to whoever acts on the 1989 fatwa, or religious edict, issued by Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, which called for the death of the author of “The Satanic Verses” because the novel was considered blasphemous.

The paper said the decision to boost the original reward, offered in the 1990s, came from foundation head Ayatollah Hassan Saneii.

CAMBODIA

Tribunal sets free Khmer Rouge leader

PHNOM PENH — Cambodia’s war crimes tribunal set free a former leader of the Khmer Rouge on Sunday, upholding a decision that has outraged survivors seeking an explanation of the mass killings committed more than 30 years ago.

Ieng Thirith, 80, who has been declared mentally unfit for trial, was driven out of the U.N.-backed tribunal’s compound by relatives. She made no comment to reporters.

The Sorbonne-educated Shakespeare scholar served as social affairs minister during the Khmer Rouge’s 1975-79 rule, during which an estimated 1.7 million people died of execution, medical neglect, overwork and starvation.

The tribunal initially announced its decision to free Ieng Thirith on Thursday, saying medical experts had determined there was no prospect for her to be tried because of a degenerative mental illness that is probably Alzheimer’s disease.

SOUTH SUDAN

Army sinks boat with its soldiers onboard

KAMPALA, Uganda — The South Sudanese military sank a boat last week, carrying 170 of its own soldiers on the Nile River, killing at least 10, after mistaking them for enemy forces, an army spokesman said Sunday.

The army opened fire after the military vessel failed to respond to repeated demands to stop, said Col. Philip Aguer. Most of the soldiers managed to swim ashore, he said, but 50 are still missing.

Col. Aguer said the South Sudanese government has launched an investigation, although he described the incident as “an accident.”

Relations between South Sudan and Sudan have been marked by tension stemming from disagreements over their common border and how to share oil revenues.

The south became independent of the north last year.

From wire dispatches and staff reports