- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 26, 2001

Yemen expands hunt for al Qaeda members
SAN'A, Yemen Yemen has expanded its weeklong search for suspected backers of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network and has arrested militants belonging to other factions, a government official said yesterday.
The campaign to arrest three suspected militants associated with al Qaeda "has been expanded to include any Islamic extremist elements from any hardline Islamic organization," the official said, adding that some suspects already had been arrested.
He said the death toll from a clash last week between security forces and the militants and their tribal hosts rose to 24 troops after six wounded soldiers died in the hospital.
Four tribesmen also were killed in the three-hour battle in Marib province, about 90 miles east of the capital.

Iraqi foreign minister plans to visit Iran
BAGHDAD Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said yesterday he would visit Iran next month in an effort to establish "good neighborly relations" between the former war foes.
"I will visit Iran in January to hold wide-ranging talks on settling humanitarian issues," he told reporters, adding that the trip would provide an opportunity to normalize relations between the two countries.
"There are outstanding issues between our two countries since the 1980s, and we are endeavoring to settle them," Iraq's chief diplomat said, adding that this included efforts to facilitate the return of Iraqi and Iranian refugees to their respective countries.
Iraq and Iran have yet to normalize ties 13 years after the end of their devastating 1980-88 conflict, which left nearly 1 million dead. The countries remain at odds about of prisoners of war and support for each other's dissidents.

Israeli official's visit to Turkey postponed
JERUSALEM Israel yesterday postponed a scheduled visit to Turkey this week by a senior Foreign Ministry official.
No new date has been set for the visit by the ministry's director-general, Avi Gil, which was postponed "due to scheduling problems," the ministry said.
Mr. Gil was to have met his counterpart and other officials in Ankara today to discuss the Middle East situation and bilateral issues.

Iran offers to help build an Afghan army
TEHRAN Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani has suggested that Tehran help Afghanistan build a national army to contribute to local and regional stability, state radio reported yesterday.
Mr. Shamkhani, who made the suggestion during a military meeting in the capital, said a national army "would contribute to re-establishing security in the country and fight against drug trafficking," adding that such moves would be beneficial to all neighboring countries.
The Iranian Cabinet decided Sunday to name a special envoy to aid Afghanistan's reconstruction after the U.S.-led war to eliminate al Qaeda and its Taliban sponsors.
Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi also pledged Friday that Iran was going to take part in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, which has been devastated by more than 20 years of war.

Iraq presents plan to disburse oil funds
BAGHDAD Iraq has presented to the United Nations a plan for how it will distribute revenues from the 11th and latest phase of its "oil-for-food" program, the official INA news agency said yesterday.
The plan, which allocates oil revenues to different sectors such as food, health and infrastructure, was presented to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan by Iraq's acting U.N. envoy, Abdel Moneim Qadhi on Monday, INA said.
Iraq signed an agreement with the United Nations on Dec. 3 renewing the "oil-for-food" program until the end of May 2002.
The program allows Iraq to sell crude oil under U.N. supervision to meet the humanitarian needs of its people, who have been hard hit by the sanctions imposed on the country since Baghdad's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

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