- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 8, 2004

IRAN

Tehran OKs freeze of nuclear activities

VIENNA, Austria — Iran has agreed in principle to renew a freeze of some sensitive nuclear activities in a move apparently aimed at easing pressure in advance of a U.N. nuclear-watchdog meeting next week, diplomats said yesterday.

Details of the plan were not immediately clear and have yet to be finalized. But two diplomats said it would include halting production, testing and assembly of centrifuges.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell dismissed the suggestion of such a move, saying “we have seen enough” of Tehran’s nuclear ambitions to warrant punitive action.

BRITAIN

Iraq war soldier charged with murder

LONDON — British authorities for the first time charged a soldier with murder in the death of a civilian in Iraq, indicting the man yesterday in a civilian court after his commanding officer blocked a court martial.

Trooper Kevin Williams, who served in Iraq with the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, was charged in the death of Iraqi civilian Hassan Said, who was killed in Ad Dayr near Basra in southern Iraq on Aug. 3, 2003.

While the British government has previously expressed regret for the deaths of Iraqi civilians, no British soldier had been charged with deaths related to the war. The British government is fighting a lawsuit by the families of six Iraqis purportedly slain by British troops. The families have gone to the High Court in London seeking to force an independent investigation.

BRITAIN

Blair to reshuffle Cabinet this week

LONDON — Prime Minister Tony Blair said yesterday he would reshuffle his senior ministerial team later this week and tried to play down speculation about a power struggle at the heart of his government.

Rumors of a feud between Mr. Blair and his Treasury chief, Gordon Brown, have persisted for years. On Monday, Work and Pensions Secretary Andrew Smith, a key Brown ally, resigned.

Talk is now rife in political circles that Mr. Blair plans to promote his close friend and fellow modernizer, Alan Milburn, to party chairman.

ISRAEL

Palestinians released from jails

JERUSALEM — Israel began releasing more than 130 Palestinian prisoners yesterday in a move aimed at easing overcrowding in its jails, security sources said.

The release, the largest in more than seven months, was not meant as a goodwill gesture to the Palestinians, but rather to relieve deteriorating prison conditions, the sources said.

They said Israel planned to release 137 prisoners yesterday and another 24 today, all nearing the end of their jail terms and most convicted of relatively minor crimes, such as stone-throwing or illegal entry into the Jewish state.

Israeli radio reported that none of the freed detainees had been involved in attacks on Israelis during a nearly four-year-old Palestinian uprising.

SERBIA-MONTENEGRO

Schools told to stop teaching evolution

BELGRADE — Serbian Education Minister Ljiljana Colic has ordered schools to stop teaching children the theory of evolution for this year, and to resume teaching it in the future only if it shares equal billing with creationism.

The move has shocked educators and textbook editors in the formerly communist state, where religion was kept out of education and politics and was only recently allowed to enter the classroom. “[Darwinism] is a theory as dogmatic as the one which says God created the first man,” Mrs. Colic, an Orthodox Christian, told the daily Glas Javnosti.

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