- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 5, 2001

EU apparently gains access to Turkish bases

BRUSSELS With Turkey's objections apparently resolved, the European Union looked forward yesterday to establishing a formal security relationship with NATO that would enable a EU summit next week to declare its new rapid-reaction force operational.

If the EU approves the compromise, Turkey would lift its veto of an EU-NATO pact that would give the EU assured access to NATO assets, including bases in Turkey. In return, Turkey's candidacy for EU membership is likely to be upgraded, said Annemie Neyts, European affairs minister of Belgium, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

But officials here remained cautious, remembering an apparent breakthrough in May abruptly vetoed by Turkey's politically powerful military.

Saudi men must bare head for U.S. visas

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia Saudi males must remove their traditional headgear for photographs used to apply for an entry visa to the United States, according to a statement by the U.S. Embassy here.

Diplomats say the new requirement is in line with tighter U.S. immigration procedures, particularly for Saudi Arabians, after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

Many men in Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally and the most conservative Gulf Arab state, wear a traditional "ghatra," consisting of a flowing scarf anchored by a cord.

The embassy statement said the requirement does not apply to women, who must cover their hair and bodies in public according to the kingdom's strict Islamic Shariah law.

Banned writer to sue Bahrain press czar

MANAMA, Bahrain A journalist said yesterday he was suing Information Minister Nabil Hamr for banning his writings, an unprecedented move in the Gulf island state.

Hafedh ash-Sheikh said he was seeking to reverse the ban because it was imposed by the information minister, not the judiciary. Mr. Sheikh's attorney, Mohammed Ahmad, noted that Article 23 of the constitution "guarantees press freedom."

The Bahraini government said Nov. 11 it would initiate legal proceedings against Mr. Sheikh for "harming national unity," the first such move since a national charter on democratic reform was endorsed in a mid-February referendum. The daily Akhbar Al-Khaleej was instructed to stop publishing his articles.

Mr. Sheikh,who also writes for publications outside Bahrain, has been banned from writing a number of times in past years because of his articles on democracy and government policies.

Weekly notes

In an unprecedented act of bridge-building Cyprus' President Glafcos Clerides will cross the island's dividing line today to have dinner in the Turkish-held north with his Turkish Cypriot counterpart, Rauf Denktash. The announcement by government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou followed an unexpected breakthrough yesterday, when Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash agreed to continue direct talks in Cyprus next month after meeting face-to-face in the U.N.-controlled buffer zone. … Iran's parliament Speaker Mehdi Karroubi yesterday demanded an end to Israeli attacks on Palestinian towns. "The unwise and irrational deeds of [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon, the butcher, and the Zionists will undoubtedly generate other extremist streams of thought that will cause bitter incidents for humanity," Mr. Karroubi, an ally of moderate President Mohammed Khatami, told an open session of parliament.

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