- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 28, 2004

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

8 reported killed at construction site

DUBAI — A crane smashed into a wall during the construction of a terminal at Dubai’s airport yesterday, and witnesses reported that at least eight workers were killed.

Workers said they saw up to 40 injured people being taken away, but the toll could not be confirmed. Airport spokeswoman Lavina Dixit Chatterjee reported a lower toll, saying five workers were killed and 12 were injured.

Two hospitals said they had received 22 injured workers, including nine in serious condition.

COLOMBIA

Secret audiotapes undermine talks

BOGOTA — Secret audiotapes revealed during the weekend show that Colombia’s peace talks with 20,000 far-right gunmen are near collapse, with one of the most powerful outlaws boycotting negotiations, marred by shouting and table thumping.

The government’s negotiator said yesterday that he was angered by the appearance of the recordings done secretly by the far-right paramilitaries and that they must start demobilizing their illegal militias or face the consequences.

The talks with the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia are key to President Alvaro Uribe’s goal of pacifying a country locked in a 40-year-old war.

SAUDI ARABIA

Anti-terror meeting set for February

NEW YORK — Saudi Arabia told the United Nations General Assembly yesterday that it would host an international conference on terrorism in its capital, Riyadh, from Feb. 5 to 8, the first by the oil-rich nation.

“The purpose is to exchange information and experience in the field of combating terrorism and to see how we can cooperate with other countries in the fight toward this universal threat,” said Saudi Foreign Undersecretary Nizar Obaid Madani.

GAZA STRIP

Palestinian gunmen seize CNN producer

GAZA CITY — Palestinian gunmen abducted a CNN producer yesterday, pulling him from a company van in Gaza City.

Riad Ali, a producer based at the network’s Jerusalem bureau, was seized when two cars carrying gunmen pulled up to the CNN van on a street, witnesses said.

CNN correspondent Ben Wedeman, who also was in the van, said the men asked for Mr. Ali.

“These men were not very communicative, they just asked, ‘Which one of you is Riad?’ and that was it,” Mr. Wedeman said in a CNN broadcast. “Their appearance was not unusual.”

SPAIN

Catholic Church hits gay ‘marriage’ plan

MADRID — The Catholic Church blasted the government’s plans to legalize same-sex “marriage,” saying yesterday that such a move would be like releasing a “virus” into Spanish society.

The Cabinet is expected to pass on Friday a bill allowing same-sex “marriages,” setting predominantly Roman Catholic Spain on course to join the vanguard of largely secular northern European countries that allow homosexual “marriage” or some version of it.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero took office in April heading a socialist government with an ambitious agenda of social reforms, such as streamlined divorce and a relaxed abortion law.

Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, spokesman for the Spanish Bishops Conference, said legalizing homosexual “marriage” would create “a counterfeit currency in the body of society.”

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