- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 24, 2005

AUSTRALIA

Prime minister meets with Muslim leaders

CANBERRA — The government and moderate Muslim leaders pledged yesterday to join forces in the fight against terrorism and blend Australian values with Islamic teachings at mosques and schools.

But critics said the exclusion of radical Muslims from the landmark meeting risked further marginalizing young Muslims among Australia’s 350,000-member Islamic community.

Prime Minister John Howard handpicked the 14 leaders to discuss how to stamp out extremism and keep the country safe from terrorist attacks in the aftermath of the deadly London bombings that killed 52 commuters July 7.



NIGER

Annan visits starving children

ZINDER — U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan visited skeletal babies in Niger and heard villagers’ pleas for help yesterday, seeking to draw attention to 5 million northwest Africans left short of food after their crops were ravaged by drought and locusts.

An estimated 3.6 million people are facing severe food shortages in Niger alone. The United Nations says at least 1.6 million people in other Sahel countries — Mali, Burkina Faso and Mauritania — also are affected.

FRANCE

Thousands mourn Christian leader

TAIZE — Thousands of mourners poured into this Burgundy village yesterday to pay final respects to the 90-year-old founder of an ecumenical Christian community who was stabbed to death during a prayer service, as his successor sought forgiveness for the killer.

Opening the funeral service at Taize Ecumenical Community’s Church of Reconciliation, Brother Alois, a 51-year-old German Roman Catholic appointed to succeed Taize’s slain leader, Brother Roger, said the killer, a 36-year-old Romanian woman, “knew not what she did.”

PAKISTAN

Musharraf to address a Jewish group

NEW YORK — Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has accepted an invitation from a leading Jewish organization to speak about his campaign to promote moderate Islam among Muslims around the world, the Council for World Jewry said.

Council Chairman Jack Rosen said Gen. Musharraf’s speech next month in New York will be the first time a Muslim leader with international stature publicly calls for moderation in the Muslim world not only at an event for Americans but at an event sponsored by the Jewish community.

PORTUGAL

Aircraft help subdue forest fires

MIRANDA DO CORVO — Water-dumping aircraft from around Europe battled yesterday to help drought-hit Portugal contain raging forest fires that have killed at least 14 persons.

Firefighters and soldiers evacuated small hamlets as the fires burned out of control.

INDIA

Pakistan urged to spare ‘spy’

NEW DELHI — Lawmakers said yesterday India would try to stop the execution of an Indian held in Pakistan for 15 years for spying, and the man’s family said he merely had crossed the border accidentally while drunk.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised lawmakers he would speak to Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, parliament deputies said.

Mr. Singh’s assurance came a day after family members of the convicted man threatened to kill themselves if the execution was carried out.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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