- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 22, 2003

EGYPT
Palestinian factions to air ending attacks
CAIRO Surrounded by hope but shrouded in doubt, a broad spectrum of Palestinian factions will hold their first talks in Cairo today to discuss an Egyptian proposal on stopping attacks inside Israel for a year.
Some analysts say the meeting of 10 factions could be valuable in opening a dialogue among so many diverse group. "People are looking for a modest result. … When it comes to suicide attacks, I think the most people can talk about is a temporary halt," said Ziad Abu-Amr, chairman of the political committee of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
So far, only Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's mainstream Fatah group has endorsed Egypt's proposal, and Palestinian officials say important questions remain, such as whether Israel would respond by withdrawing troops from some Palestinian areas or stopping its assassinations of militants.

SAUDI ARABIA
Authorities brace for vast hajj turnout
RIYADH Saudi Arabia says it is prepared to deal with any security risk posed by the largest global gathering of Muslims next month, when up to 2 million worshippers converge on the kingdom for the annual hajj pilgrimage.
Anti-Western sentiments have been rising in the kingdom, the birthplace of Islam, as the United States masses troops around Iraq in preparation for an attack on Baghdad. But last year's hajj, which followed the September 11 attacks on the United States, passed peacefully.
"By the will of God, the hajj season will be peaceful and free of incidents, as hajj is a time of piety. But the security forces are ready for every emergency," Deputy Interior Minister Prince Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz declared in remarks published Monday by the newspaper al-Riyadh.

IRAQ
Baghdad can provide data on 1991 prisoners
KUWAIT CITY Baghdad is ready to present new information today on Kuwaitis and others held in Iraq since the 1991 Gulf war, an issue that has fueled tensions between the two countries, a U.N. official said yesterday.
"They have agreed to meet the Kuwaitis at a meeting in Amman [Jordan] and to present new information on this matter," said Yuli Vorontsov, who is in charge of accounting for hundreds of people and property missing since Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
"They do not deny the presence of prisoners, but they say it is very difficult to get information on their whereabouts because many witnesses have disappeared," he told reporters. Baghdad has said it only recorded the arrest of 126 of the 605 people missing during its occupation of Kuwait, and that it later lost track of them during a Shi'ite uprising in southern Iraq.

Weekly notes …
Prospective Palestinian suicide bombers should not miss the opportunity of striking at the increased number of U.S. troops in the Middle East, a leading Iranian hard-liner wrote yesterday. In an editorial in his Kayhan newspaper, Hossein Shariatmadari reasoned that American troops are a far easier target for "martyrdom-seeking operations" than Israelis. … Sending Iraqi President Saddam Hussein into exile would create a "dangerous precedent," Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh told students at San'a university. Exiling senior Iraqi officials is a "flagrant interference in the affairs of a Muslim Arab country … [which] we totally reject. … If there is a unilateral war, the U.N. will have to close and leave all countries, big or small, without any protection," Mr. Saleh added.

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