- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 7, 2004

RUSSIA

Researchers rescued from Arctic station

MOSCOW — Twelve Russian researchers were plucked from an Arctic ice floe yesterday, three days after a chunk of the floe disappeared beneath the sea and took most of their meteorological station with it.

Two Russian helicopters left the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, some 450 miles southeast of the floe, early yesterday and returned with the researchers, their remaining equipment and two dogs about 10 hours later.

A large piece of the floe broke off Wednesday and four of the North Pole-32 research station’s six buildings were lost.

LIBYA

Cabinet readied for oil trade with U.S.

TRIPOLI — Libya named veteran oil expert Fethi Omar bin Chetwane as its first energy minister in more than five years yesterday, ahead of negotiations on the return of U.S. oil firms after the lifting of some U.S. sanctions.

The finance minister was replaced but the prime minister and foreign minister retained their offices in a Cabinet reshuffle decided by the top legislative and executive body, the General People’s Congress. The changes were announced on state television.

The reshuffle was the latest step in the north African country’s drive to return to the international mainstream, following its decision to give up programs to develop weapons of mass destruction and accept responsibility for the Lockerbie, Scotland, airliner bombing of 1988.

EGYPT

Security tightened after Christians killed

SOHAG — Police were patrolling a southern Egyptian town yesterday to prevent an outbreak of religious violence after a Muslim man purportedly killed two Christian brothers.

It was not clear whether the incident was sectarian, but police were immediately deployed to Salamoon, about 250 miles south of the capital Cairo. Christians are a minority in the area and tension between the two groups runs high.

Police were searching for Ismail Khalifa, 25, who they believe killed Sadeq Fekhry Mehana, 52, and Sidqi Mahana, 50, with an ax early Friday morning.

Mr. Khalifa, whom authorities said was mentally unstable, had gotten into an argument with the brothers, and when they called him “crazy,” he went after them with an ax, officials said.

JORDAN

Saddam’s letter delivered to daughter

AMMAN — A letter that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein wrote to his family from U.S. custody has been delivered to his eldest daughter in Jordan, the Red Cross said yesterday.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said the letter, collected from Saddam when officials of the Swiss-based organization visited him last month, was delivered to Raghad Hussein on Thursday.

Raghad Hussein, 36, and her younger sister Rana fled to Jordan last year shortly after U.S. forces took control of Baghdad in April. After eight months on the run, Saddam was captured in December near his home town in Iraq.

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