- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 11, 2004

NETHERLANDS

Lawmakers call threat underestimated

THE HAGUE — Dutch lawmakers accused the government yesterday of underestimating the threat from Islamist terrorists and failing to protect a filmmaker slain by a suspected Muslim radical.

In a parliamentary debate about Theo van Gogh’s slaying last week, lawmakers from both opposition and government parties urged Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende to take urgent steps to increase public safety and restore confidence in the law.

The Nov. 2 killing triggered a cycle of retaliatory attacks on Islamic buildings and Christian churches that shocked this traditionally peaceful and tolerant nation.

INDIA

Leader announces cut in Kashmir troops

NEW DELHI — Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday announced a reduction in troops in disputed Kashmir in a fresh initiative to push forward a fraying peace process with Pakistan.

Mr. Singh, who is making his first trip to Kashmir next week, said the situation had improved in the Himalayan region.

Pakistan said the scaling back of troops would help foster peace between the nuclear rivals, who last year agreed on a cease-fire on the Line of Control dividing the Indian and Pakistani armies in Kashmir.

LITHUANIA

Parliament ratifies new EU Constitution

VILNIUS — Lithuanian lawmakers ratified the newly signed European Union Constitution yesterday, becoming the first member to approve the document.

Eighty-four members of the 141-seat Seimas, or parliament, voted to ratify the document, while four voted against and three abstained. Fifty lawmakers were not present. Under Lithuanian law, it takes 57 votes to approve an international treaty.

Members of the 25-nation bloc signed the constitution Oct. 29 in Rome, and the charter is supposed to take effect in 2007.

SOUTH KOREA

Nuclear watchdog confirms experiments

VIENNA, Austria — The U.N. nuclear watchdog confirmed in a confidential report yesterday that South Korea enriched a tiny amount of uranium in 2000 to a level close to what would be usable in an atomic weapon.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also said a senior government scientist, the president of the Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute in Taejon, South Korea, knew about the experiments with the uranium and plutonium, also usable in nuclear weapons.

South Korea’s government has said it had no knowledge of the plutonium and uranium experiments, though the IAEA said it still was trying to verify that.

IRAN

Ayatollah approves telescope use

TEHRAN — Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has put an end to a major religious question here by authorizing the use of a telescope to observe the moon and declare an end to the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

In a ruling that could prevent a repeat of last year’s confusion over when to celebrate the Eid holiday, Mohsen Rezai — a close aide to the all-powerful leader — announced to the press that Ayatollah Khamenei had ruled that “looking at the moon with technical aids is valid.”

In an annual ritual, Muslims scan the sky for the crescent of a new moon that signals the start of Eid al-Fitr, a three-day feast celebrating the end of Ramadan.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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