- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 25, 2004

MEXICO

6 Britons freed from flooded cave

CUETZALAN, Mexico — Six British cavers trapped underground in Mexico for a week emerged blinking and bedraggled yesterday to find themselves at the center of a diplomatic row.

Four of the cavers are members of the British armed forces and the Mexican government is upset that it was not told in advance what they were doing on its soil.

Divers worked more than six hours to rescue the cavers from the flooded cave, removing them one by one through a labyrinth of underground tunnels.

Emerging tired but in high spirits, the cavers said they had not feared for their safety but were embarrassed by the international attention.

NORTH KOREA

Burma is offered a missile deal

The United States yesterday accused North Korea of seeking to sell surface-to-surface missiles to Burma’s military government.

Matthew Daley, deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, told a congressional panel that the United States had raised its “concerns” with Burma, officially known as Myanmar, over such moves.

He said Burmese officials have indicated they have not accepted the North Korean offers, but Washington “will continue to monitor the situation and will deal with it vigorously and rapidly.”

CHINA

Washington accused of hypocrisy on rights

GENEVA — China yesterday accused the United States of hypocrisy on human rights and said that the U.S. record at home did not make “bedtime reading.”

Sha Zukang, China’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, took the floor at the annual U.N. Commission on Human Rights to respond to U.S. Ambassador Richard Williamson, who had accused China of “backsliding” on human rights in the past year.

Mr. Williamson had cited China’s increased arrests of democracy activists and its “poor record” on Tibet.

SPAIN

3 more Moroccans held in bombings

MADRID — Spanish police have arrested at least three more Moroccans in connection with the Madrid train bombings that killed at least 190 persons, officials said.

Court sources said three suspects were arrested in a central Spanish town and the capital, while the Europa Press news agency said five persons were detained.

FRANCE

Group suspends bomb threats

PARIS — A mysterious group that claimed to have planted bombs on the French railroad network announced yesterday it is suspending its terror threats while it improves its ability to carry them out.

In two letters, addressed to President Jacques Chirac and Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, the group, which calls itself AZF, said that “there are currently no bombs capable of functioning on the French rail network.”

EGYPT

26 sentenced from outlawed group

CAIRO — An Egyptian court yesterday convicted 26 persons, including three Britons, of trying to revive an outlawed Islamic group and sentenced them to up to five years in prison.

Following the sentencing, all of them burst into shouts of “God is great, thanks be to God.”

The defendants, first arrested in April 2002, were accused of attempting to revive Hizb-ut-Tahrir, or Islamic Liberation Party, which was banned by the government after a suspected failed coup in 1974.

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