- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Egypt to aid Israel in easing Gaza curbs

JERUSALEM Egypt will support an Israeli pilot program easing restrictions on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in exchange for an end to "terrorist" attacks there, the Yediot Ahronot reported yesterday.

The plan was put forward by Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer during his meeting in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who supports the plan, the newspaper said.

"The Gaza Strip will be a test for the Palestinians," Yediot quoted Mr. Ben Eliezer as saying, adding that if the plan is successful, it will be applied to the West Bank.

The newspaper said Cairo would send Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman to the Gaza Strip to open the pilot project.

Palestinian clerics yield Lebanese suspect

SIDON, Lebanon Muslim clerics said they handed over a suspected militant to Lebanese authorities yesterday after a manhunt in a Palestinian refugee camp.

Palestinian factions controlling Ain el-Hilweh camp near the southern port city of Sidon hunted the suspect after a shootout Thursday at his home in which three security officers died. A security source said the Lebanese man would be tried in a military court.

Moscow condemns attacks on Iraq

MOSCOW Russia condemned recent British and U.S. air strikes on Iraq, saying they complicate peace efforts in the Middle East and the Gulf amid mounting speculation over U.S. plans to oust Saddam Hussein.

The U.S. armed forces bombed what they said were military targets in Iraq's southern "no-fly" zone on Saturday and Sunday, striking a mobile radar unit and air-defense facilities.

Iraqi spokesmen said one person had been killed and six were wounded.

"Russia is convinced that such operations in illegitimate 'no-fly' zones complicate efforts of the international community to find a political and diplomatic solution," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Homosexuality trial rescheduled in Cairo

CAIRO The retrial of 50 young Egyptian men accused of practicing homosexuality will resume July 27, a judge said yesterday after causing a trial delay by recusing himself from the case.

Judge Mohammed Abdel Karim asked to be excused when the retrial opened July 2 because he had already judged the accused in their first trial before a state security court when 21 of the men were sentenced to one or two years each and 29 were acquitted. He said the retrial will be held before the Abdine Criminal Court of Cairo.

Weekly notes

Algerian singer Khaled braved a sprained ankle to enchant the crowd at Lebanon's annual Beiteddine Festival, despite criticism in the Arab media for appearing in a Rome concert with Israeli singer Noa in May. The king of rai put aside his crutches, sat on a stool and brought an audience of 3,000 to its feet several times during his hourlong concert late Monday at the 19th century palace in the Shouf Mountains east of Beirut. Iranian politics is like "a two-sided coin," with the side led by President Mohammed Khatami wanting to cooperate with Gulf Arab monarchies, and the other backing Muslim fundamentalist movements in the region, Bahrain's defense minister, Sheik Khalifa bin-Ahmad al-Khalifa, said in remarks published yesterday in the daily Al-Ayyam.

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