- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 20, 2004

EGYPT

Mubarak urges Israel to talk with Syria

CAIRO — President Hosni Mubarak has urged Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to resume peace talks with Syria that they abandoned four years ago, Egyptian Information Minister Safwat al-Sherif said yesterday.

Mr. Mubarak stressed “the importance of progress in the peace process after listening clearly to the opinion of [Syrian] President Bashar al-Assad,” who visited Egypt on Dec. 24, Mr. al-Sherif said. Mr. Mubarak made his request to Mr. Sharon in a letter sent Thursday and during a telephone call yesterday, Mr. al-Sherif said.

IRAN

Blasphemy case to be reviewed

TEHRAN — Dissident intellectual Hashem Aghajari, condemned to death for blasphemy after questioning the power of the clergy, will have his case re-examined in the spring, a judiciary official said yesterday.

“To preserve calm before the elections, the examination of the case of Hashem Aghajari will be made after [February parliamentary elections] and in the [Iranian] new year,” which begins March 21, the newspaper Iran quoted Zekrollah Ahmadi as saying.

CYPRUS

Ship seized, 5 held in smuggling probe

NICOSIA — Five crew members of a North Korean-flagged ship appeared in a Cypriot court yesterday on suspicion of smuggling illegal immigrants from Egypt to Greece, police said.

Two Ukrainians and three Egyptians, ages 30 to 55, aboard the cargo ship Pegy were detained by police in Limassol late Monday on suspicion of conspiring to commit a crime. Cypriot authorities said the Pegy arrived at Limassol on Friday after ferrying immigrants — passed off as crew members — from Egypt to Greece.

Weekly notes

Veterinarians with tranquillizer guns will be on call to help round up rampaging bulls during this year’s Muslim Feast of the Sacrifice in Istanbul, city authorities said yesterday. Turkish cities fill with bulls, goats, sheep and camels ahead of the annual Eid al-Adha, when devout Muslims perform animal sacrifices before donating the meat to the poor. Terrified animals sometimes escape the knife and are chased by their owners through crowded streets. … Saddam Hussein’s former U.N. envoy is accusing the United States of deliberately sowing chaos in Iraq to prevent democracy from taking hold. In interviews with the Associated Press, Mohammed Aldouri denounced a U.S. plan to create an appointed legislative body in Iraq as an excuse to avoid direct elections of a new government because this could lead Washington to control of Iraq’s oil wealth and strategic location.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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