- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 14, 2003

TURKEY

Synagogue reopens after suicide bombings

ISTANBUL — One of two synagogues bombed in Istanbul last month reopened for Sabbath prayers yesterday, a service Turkish Jews said showed their resolve to overcome the devastating attacks.

Isak Haleva, the chief rabbi at the Beth Israel synagogue, delivered a sermon that stressed the importance of dialogue in this predominantly Muslim but secular country.

Mr. Haleva was one of those wounded in the nearly simultaneous suicide bombings at Beth Israel and the Neve Shalom synagogue during Sabbath prayers on Nov. 15. Those attacks were followed five days later by suicide bombings at the British Consulate in Istanbul and a London-based bank.

A total of 61 persons, including the four bombers, were killed in the attacks that injured hundreds. Six of the dead were Jewish.

SYRIA

Sanctions prompt call for negotiations

DAMASCUS — Syria said yesterday it wants a frank and constructive dialogue with the United States, a day after President Bush signed a law that threatens diplomatic and economic sanctions against Damascus.

The official Syrian Arab News Agency said President Bashar Assad’s talks with a U.S. Homeland Security Committee delegation led by Rep. Christopher Cox, California Republican, dealt with combating terrorism and the Arab-Israeli peace process.

Washington has accused Syria of ignoring its requests to crack down on Palestinian and Lebanese guerrilla groups.

TAIWAN

President seeks international backing

TAIPEI — Chen Shui-bian, president of the Republic of China (Taiwan), urged the international community yesterday to back a plan to hold Taiwan’s first referendum, saying the move was in defense of the status quo in the face of China’s military threat.

Addressing a Democratic Progressive Party congress, Mr. Chen remained adamant that the island would hold the referendum alongside presidential elections in March, despite a blunt warning by President Bush last week urging the Taiwanese leader not to alter the status quo.

The referendum would call on China to renounce the threat of force against Taiwan, which Beijing considers a rebel province, and dismantle nearly 500 missiles pointed at the island.

ISRAEL

U.S. envoy urges peace talks

JERUSALEM — A U.S. envoy yesterday urged Israel and the Palestinians to take “concrete steps” to get stalled peace talks back on track, amid signs that Washington is growing increasingly impatient with the lack of progress.

David Satterfield, a senior State Department official, made his appeal after a meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia.


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