- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 27, 2002

MIDEAST
Palestinians to press Israeli Labor contacts
JERUSALEM Palestinian officials said yesterday they plan to step up contacts with the Israeli peace camp in an effort to convince Israeli voters that Palestinians are committed to peace.
"We discussed the issue of reviving and increasing dialogue with the Israeli peace camp in Monday's leadership meeting," Palestinian Labor Minister Ghassan al-Khatib told Reuters news agency. Mr. Khatib said the Palestinian Authority wants "to make it clear to the Israeli public that we have not backtracked on our determination to pursue peace."
Until the election last week of leftist Amram Mitzna as leader of Israel's main opposition Labor Party, Palestinian suicide bombings had largely silenced Israel's peace camp, which advocates Israeli withdrawal from occupied land. Palestinian parliament Speaker Ahmed Korei plans to meet his Israeli counterpart, Avraham Burg of Labor, today to discuss ways of bringing peace advocates from both sides together.

IRAN
Neither side bends on scholar's sentence
TEHRAN A crisis over the sentencing to death of a pro-reform academic took a turn for the worse yesterday, as Iran's hard-line judiciary and the scholar refused to back down.
Four student leaders involved in more than two weeks of protests were also arrested in an apparently coordinated crackdown, student groups said, while a top commander of the Revolutionary Guards warned of a fierce response to any further demonstrations.
Even though supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the judiciary to review the verdict, Iran's chief prosecutor said it was up to Hashem Aghajari to first lodge an appeal, and that the history lecturer and disabled veteran has until Dec. 3 to do so. Mr. Aghajari's attorney, Saleh Nikhbakht, told Agence France-Presse no such appeal would be made, even if it meant his client goes to the gallows.

MOROCCO
Deluge amid drought kills at least 37
RABAT Floods after heavy rains Sunday and Monday broke the country's four-year drought killed at least 37 persons and damaged the country's huge oil refinery, officials said yesterday.
At least 30 persons died and eight others were missing in the rural farming area of Settat, about 45 miles southeast of Casablanca, the official MAP news agency said. A father and his four children were crushed to death when their house collapsed in the village of Tamra, in the Fez region, roughly 125 miles east of Rabat, the North African country's capital, the news agency said.
Flood damage also caused a fire at an oil refinery at Mohammedia, said its director, Abderahmane Saaidi.
Weekly notes
The European Union's external-relations commissioner, Chris Patten, said yesterday the 15-nation bloc could not indefinitely exclude Turkey from joining. "I don't think we can say we want to see the creation of secular Muslim states and in the same breath say no to Turkey," he told the French financial daily La Tribune. "We've been keeping Turkey out of our club for 40 years. Yet it was authorized to submit its candidacy and it's a member of the Council of Europe," he added, referring to the 44-nation pan-European human rights watchdog. Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of the U.S. Central Command and the Army commander who would likely lead any U.S. invasion of Iraq, held talks in Saudi Arabia yesterday with Prince Khalid bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, Saudi Arabia's deputy defense minister, "on issues of common interest," the official SPA news agency reported.


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