Wednesday, June 23, 2004


U.S. seeks yearof war-crimes shield

NEW YORK — Facing strong opposition, the United States said yesterday it is willing to compromise and seek an exemption for American peacekeepers from international prosecution for war crimes for just one more year.

The United States circulated a resolution last month that would authorize an exemption for a third straight year, but it ran into stiff opposition from supporters of the International Criminal Court and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Last week, Mr. Annan urged the Security Council not to renew the U.S. exemption, citing the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. forces. He also delivered a written note to council ambassadors that raised “serious doubts” about the legality of an exemption and warned against dividing the United Nations’ most powerful body.


Pyongyang to mull halting nuke program

BEIJING — North Korea said yesterday it is ready at six-nation talks to discuss freezing its nuclear program and allowing inspections, in response to Washington’s demand that the communist state give up its weapons ambitions.

The talks begin today, with representatives of the United States, the two Koreas, China, Japan and Russia gathering at a government guesthouse in Beijing.

With Secretary of State Colin L. Powell promising a “spirit of flexibility,” the United States and others are working on a plan to offer economic aid jointly to North Korea if it agrees to end its nuclear-weapons program.

Two previous rounds of talks failed to settle the standoff, which flared in October 2002 when Washington said North Korea admitted running a secret nuclear-weapons program in violation of a 1994 agreement.


Six arrested in terror plot

MANAMA — Six Bahrainis, who had been monitored for a month, were arrested in pre-dawn raids yesterday apparently on suspicion of plotting terrorist attacks, authorities said.

The official Bahrain News Agency said the men were arrested “to prevent them from committing dangerous acts that threaten property and people” as a result of intelligence gathered by security officials. No charges were listed.

The attorney for five of the men had implied earlier that authorities suspected al Qaeda links.


Palestinian groups oppose Egypt’s role

GAZA CITY — The main Palestinian militant factions have united to oppose any security role Egypt might take in the Gaza Strip if Israel leaves the territory, casting doubt over Egyptian efforts to mediate a smooth withdrawal.

A statement issued by 10 factions late Monday in Syria put them at odds with the Palestinian Authority, which is scheduled to hold potentially decisive talks with a top envoy from Cairo this week to discuss an Egyptian presence.

Egypt has offered to help train Palestinian security forces to fill a vacuum in the Gaza Strip once Israel removes Jewish settlements and troops from occupied land.


Photographers face retrial in Diana case

PARIS — Attorneys for French photographers who took pictures of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed on the day of their fatal car crash went back to court yesterday to defend their clients in an invasion of privacy case.

The three photographers were acquitted in November, but the prosecutor’s office and Mohammed al-Fayed, the father of Mr. Fayed, appealed. After the one-day hearing yesterday, a verdict is expected Sept. 14.

The men were among the many photographers who either followed the car carrying Diana through the French capital on Aug. 31, 1997, or snapped photos after it hit a pillar in a tunnel.

Jacques Langevin, the only one of the three to appear in court, argued that he was just doing his job by following “personalities who were known worldwide.”

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