- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 15, 2002

Bush meets Palestinian, backs statehood
JERUSALEM In his first-ever discussion with a Palestinian Authority official, President Bush said statehood is a prerequisite for ending Palestinian suffering, the official said yesterday.
Mr. Bush met several times with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon but has refused to meet with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat or his aides, calling his regime corrupt and linked to terrorism. In a June speech, Mr. Bush called for Mr. Arafat's ouster.
The conversation between Mr. Bush and Nabil Shaath, the Palestinian minister for international cooperation and planning, occurred Thursday during a reception Mr. Bush held for heads of state and representatives in New York, where the U.N. General Assembly is meeting.

2 killed, homes damaged in Indian earthquake
NEW DELHI A strong earthquake hit India's southeast early yesterday, killing at least two persons and damaging some homes on the Andaman Islands, officials said.
The epicenter of the magnitude-6 tremor was in the sea about 1,500 miles southeast of the Indian capital, an official at the New Delhi Meteorology Department said.
Two persons were killed when a wall collapsed in the Andaman Islands, and a jetty at Ariel Bay on Middle Andaman island was damaged, said a New Delhi-based liaison officer for the islands.

Iranian court removes travel ban on dancer
TEHRAN An Iranian-American dance teacher who was arrested when he visited Iran from the United States has had a 10-year travel ban overturned by an Iranian appeals court, his lawyer said yesterday.
Mohammad Khordadian's folk dances, which included women, landed him in hot water in Iran, where they were broadcast via satellite television networks and available on pirate video.
The court reduced his suspended jail sentence to five years from 10 years, said his lawyer, Abdolrahim Soltani. Mr. Khordadian, 46, who was arrested in May when he visited Iran for the first time in more than 20 years, has no plans to go back to live in the United States, the lawyer said.

Liberia's Taylor lifts state of emergency
MONROVIA, Liberia President Charles Taylor lifted the state of emergency he imposed eight months ago and said yesterday that the rebel insurrection against his government had been all but crushed.
Mr. Taylor made the announcement in a nationally broadcast speech, in which he also ended a ban on political rallies, imposed earlier this year as the 2003 presidential elections drew near.
The Liberian leader cited recent successes by government troops, including the retaking of the strategic northwest town of Bopolu on Wednesday.

Zimbabwean ex-judge appears in court
HARARE, Zimbabwe A retired white Zimbabwean judge who was arrested Friday on charges of misconduct while on the bench was sent back into detention yesterday after a brief court appearance.
Former High Court Judge Fergus Blackie has clashed with President Robert Mugabe and hit the headlines this summer after ordering the arrest of the justice minister.
He is the seventh judge in 15 months to step down from the bench and accused Mr. Mugabe of undermining judicial independence.
A police spokesman said Judge Blackie, 65, was under investigation and could face criminal prosecution for irregularly overturning the conviction of a white woman on fraud charges.

Haider refuses to lead party
VIENNA, Austria Austrian far-right populist Joerg Haider, who led a revolt in his Freedom Party that toppled the government last week, said yesterday he was fed up with his party and would withdraw his candidacy for party chairman.
Mr. Haider justified his surprise move by saying the party, whose popularity in opinion polls has been plunging in recent days, was split and that he would be unable to lead it in the direction he wanted it to go.
He said he would remain the governor of Carinthia and a member of the party.

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