- The Washington Times - Friday, November 19, 2004

NORTH KOREA

Kim portrait reports called ‘fabrication’

BEIJING — Reports that portraits of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il had been removed were a “groundless fabrication,” China’s Xinhua news agency quoted a Foreign Ministry official as saying in Pyongyang in a one-sentence report today.

Some diplomats in the North Korean capital and analysts in South Korea said this week portraits of Mr. Kim had been removed from some public places, starting as far back as August, in an apparent bid to soften the personality cult surrounding Mr. Kim.

The same reports yesterday said North Korea’s official press had dropped the term “dear leader” to refer to the ruler.

ISRAEL

3 Egyptian cops killed on Gaza border

JERUSALEM — Israeli troops mistook three Egyptian police officers for Palestinian militants and fatally shot them yesterday along the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt, increasing tensions between the neighbors.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to express his “deepest apologies” for the incident and promised a quick investigation. But Egypt did not appear satisfied, issuing a rare statement lambasting Israel.

PAKISTAN

Man arrested in consulate bombing

KARACHI — Authorities have arrested a man they suspect masterminded of a deadly bombing near the U.S. Consulate in Karachi two years ago, but another key member of his network remains at large, a senior official said yesterday.

The arrest was announced hours after police in the southern city revealed they had fatally shot a prominent Islamic terrorist suspected in the 2002 abduction and beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl.

MACEDONIA

Parliament accepts leader’s resignation

SKOPJE — Macedonia’s parliament yesterday formally accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Hari Kostov, who stepped down earlier this week after tensions with minority Albanian politicians in his government.

A deal to share power between Macedonians and ethnic Albanians in this Balkan country was a key provision of a West-brokered agreement ending a six-month conflict in 2001 that killed about 80 people.

NORWAY

Parliament rejects gay ‘marriage’

OSLO — Norwegian legislators yesterday rejected moves to allow same-sex couples to “marry” under the same laws as heterosexuals and which would have paved the way for them to adopt children, the Norwegian news agency NTB reported.

Same-sex couples in the Scandinavian country are able to legally register their civil unions but are not allowed to “marry” in church. They enjoy largely the same rights as heterosexual couples, except they cannot adopt.

CUBA

Castro sees Bush help in bin Laden tape

HAVANA — Fidel Castro says the emergence of an Osama bin Laden videotape just ahead of the U.S. presidential election seemed to have been “arranged” to help President Bush.

In his first public comments about Mr. Bush’s re-election, the Cuban leader said, “We have seen too much … trickery and shamelessness to sustain the belief that this wasn’t something arranged.”

He did not give any detail on how the tape could have been timed to the election. I

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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