- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 22, 2002

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Two men held after bomb threat
ABU DHABI Sky marshals seized two passengers on board a Royal Jordanian Airlines plane after they told a flight attendant they were carrying a bomb, CNN reported today.
Jordanian and Abu Dhabi authorities were questioning the men at Abu Dhabi airport, where the plane landed early today. No bomb was found.
Onboard security officers seized the men, believed to be from Libya, after they told a flight attendant they were going to blow up the plane, airline and airport officials told CNN.
"They told the hostess they had a bomb. She alerted the guards on the plane. When they searched them, they found nothing," a witness said.
The incident occurred at a time of rising tension in the Persian Gulf region as the United States threatens military action against Iraq if it does not disarm.
Royal Jordanian Airlines Flight 602, an Airbus A-340 coming from Amman, Jordan, landed in Abu Dhabi at 3:10 a.m. local time, CNN said, and was due to depart for Dubai.
Abu Dhabi and all Gulf airports enforce tight security. Royal Jordanian Airlines usually has two sky marshals on its planes.

VENEZUELA
Britain urges citizens to flee Venezuela
LONDON The British government advised its nationals yesterday to leave Venezuela because of increasing chaos in the politically divided Latin American nation.
The Foreign Ministry said it was withdrawing families of British diplomats and nonessential staff from Venezuela and urged Britons to get out unless they had urgent reasons to stay. The announcement came three days after the government warned Britons not to travel to Venezuela.
Venezuelans scrambled to buy food, fearing shortages, and gasoline supplies dried up as a general strike aimed at forcing President Hugo Chavez from office entered its 20th day yesterday.

BRAZIL
Mexican pop diva goes home to face charges
SAO PAULO After a three-year odyssey in Brazil, Mexican pop star Gloria Trevi left for home yesterday with the baby she had in jail to face charges of sex abuse involving teenage girls seeking stardom.
Trevi's departure was held up for two days by a diplomatic standoff about the terms of her extradition, leaving her stranded in Sao Paulo's international airport under guard by Brazilian police.
Trevi, her ex-husband, Sergio Andrade, and backup singer Maria Raquenel Portillo were arrested in Rio de Janeiro in January 2000 at the request of Mexican authorities on charges of abducting and raping teenage girls in their care.

CUBA
Castro injures foot; doctors advise rest
HAVANA Cuban President Fidel Castro said yesterday he had injured his left foot and had been advised by doctors to rest for three or four days.
A brief statement from the 76-year-old Cuban leader was read at the opening of a one-day parliament meeting in Havana explaining his absence. He has not missed a session of the Cuban legislature since it was founded more than 25 years ago.
"Due to a tiny accidental injury in the left foot with inflammation and other theoretical risks, medical tyrants have imposed on me the terrible punishment of resting for three or four days," Mr. Castro said.
"I have had no choice but to obey [the doctors]. I must take care of my left foot because I have taken the best steps of my life with it," joked Latin America's most famous leftist.

NORTH KOREA
Nuke tabs unplugged, U.N. agency says
VIENNA, Austria The U.N. nuclear watchdog, voicing "deep regret," said yesterday that North Korea had disabled surveillance devices it had placed at a nuclear-power plant suspected of being used to make weapons-grade plutonium.
Earlier this month, the secretive Stalinist state said that it would restart its 5-megawatt reactor at Nyongbyong, which the United Nations believes had been used to make plutonium capable of use in warheads. The plant had been closed under a 1994 agreement.


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