- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 31, 2001

Iranian candidate urges ties with U.S.

TEHRAN — A conservative Iranian presidential candidate called yesterday for the restoration of relations with the United States "in the national interest" amid growing signs that the issue is no longer taboo.

Abdollah Jasbi, 57, in third place far behind President Mohammad Khatami in one opinion poll published yesterday, told a news conference it was up to Washington, which broke off relations, to take the first step.

"We can have relations with all countries based on the national interest. Of course, the United States is one of these countries," the head of an open university network said.

Washington severed ties soon after Islamic militants occupied the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held 52 diplomats hostage for 444 days.


EU companies warned about U.S. spying

BRUSSELS — Companies in the European Union should take steps to protect data sent by phone, fax or e-mail from commercial spies, a European Parliament committee said yesterday.

The committee stressed that there was no hard evidence to back up suspicions that American companies are spying on them via the U.S. Echelon spy network. But it said that should not stop them from taking precautions.

"We cannot prove that the U.S. is carrying out industrial espionage," German Socialist deputy Gerhard Schmid, rapporteur of the committee probing Echelon, told a press conference, hinting that such was the case.

"Such espionage is very difficult to detect it leaves no trace," he said. Investigators from the parliamentary Echelon committee went to Washington this month, but planned talks with American government officials were abruptly canceled by the U.S. side.


Congo cease-fire said near collapse

GOMA, Congo — A peace accord aimed at ending the three-year war in the Democratic Republic of Congo is on the verge of collapse, a Congolese rebel leader said yesterday.

Adolphe Onusumba, leader of the Rwandan-backed Congolese Rally for Democracy, accused Congolese President Joseph Kabila of sending arms and supplies to militia groups operating behind rebel lines, undermining a cease-fire.

The peace deal signed in Lusaka in 1999 appeared to have stalled until Joseph Kabila took over from his murdered father in January this year. Since then he has allowed in U.N. military observers and agreed to dialogue between Congo´s government and the opposition.


Puerto Rico´s Benitez is dead at 93

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Jaime Benitez, who once served as Puerto Rico´s delegate to Congress, died of pneumonia yesterday in a San Juan hospital, officials said. He was 93.

Mr. Benitez was Puerto Rico´s nonvoting member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1972 to 1976.

He spent most of his life in education, serving at the University of Puerto Rico for about 40 years. He was the school´s president from 1966 to 1972.

"He dedicated his whole life to building a university of excellence," said professor Rafael Pietri Oms, a former dean of the university´s campus in the western city of Mayaguez.


Clandestine Christians detained in north China

BEIJING — Police have detained 35 Christians in northern China for worshipping outside the official church and sentenced 15 of them to labor camps, a human rights group said yesterday.

The Christians were detained Saturday by police during a clandestine service in Dongsheng, a city in Inner Mongolia, the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said.

A police official contacted by telephone in Dongsheng said the Christians were detained for "illegal religious activity." He said some had been released. China allows only government-controlled religious groups.


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