- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 17, 2003

IRAN
Khatami refuses to back U.S. in Iraq
TEHRAN Iranian President Mohammed Khatami said yesterday that his country will not recognize a U.S.-installed interim administration in Iraq and will support Syria if it is attacked.
"We will not recognize any administration other than an all-Iraqi government. However, we are not seeking tension or confrontation with anybody," Mr. Khatami told reporters after a Cabinet meeting.

ISRAEL
Bush signs waiver on PLO's U.S. offices
ST. LOUIS President Bush yesterday signed a six-month waiver that keeps the Palestine Liberation Organization's U.S. offices open and gives the body access to its funds here.
"The waiver will permit the United States to avoid damaging our current diplomatic efforts on the Israeli-Palestinian front and in the Middle East region more broadly," White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said.
Had Mr. Bush not signed the six-month waiver, the PLO's offices in the United States would have been barred from operating and U.S. banks would have been required to deny the organization access to its funds on deposit, she said.

UNITED NATIONS
Rights body condemns N. Korea for first time
GENEVA The United Nations' top human rights body issued its first-ever condemnation of North Korea yesterday, expressing deep concern over "systematic" rights abuses in the reclusive communist state.
The U.N. Commission on Human Rights voted 28-10, with 14 abstentions, in favor of a resolution brought by the European Union and the United States that accuses Pyongyang of "widespread and grave violations."
Costa Rica, backed by the United States and the European Union, urged the commission to also demand that Cuba release dozens of jailed dissidents.

GERMANY
7 rescued POWs arrive at U.S. base
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE A plane carrying seven American prisoners of war who were rescued in Iraq arrived late yesterday at a U.S. base in Germany, where they were to be examined at a military hospital.
They were flown to the base from Kuwait aboard a C-141 transport plane.

IRAQ
British troops defuse 'smart bomb' in hotel
BASRA British bomb disposal experts carried out a controlled explosion yesterday on a half-ton "smart bomb" they found on the grounds of Basra's main hotel.
Troops sealed off the riverfront around the Sheraton Hotel while the operation to defuse the huge device a JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) bomb was carried out.
The bomb had been dropped by a coalition warplane during the campaign to oust Saddam Hussein's regime from Iraq's second-largest city.

LEBANON
Hariri to stay on as prime minister
BEIRUT Lebanese lawmakers yesterday voted to keep Rafik Hariri as prime minister, a day after he resigned to pave the way for a government shuffle amid mounting U.S. pressure on its political master, Syria.
Analysts expected the reshuffle to usher in another pro-Syrian government but with a broader popular base. This would allow Damascus to focus on tensions with Washington without having to worry about bickering in Lebanon, where it holds political sway.

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