- The Washington Times - Friday, February 11, 2005

IRAQ

Rumsfeld visits troops in surprise arrival

MOSUL — U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld flew into northern Iraq before dawn today to make a personal appraisal of the training of Iraqi security forces and talk with his commanders.

Mr. Rumsfeld began the unannounced trip at an airfield outside the northern city of Mosul. It was the Pentagon chief’s eighth visit to Iraq and came just seven weeks after his Christmas Eve visit with U.S. troops.

Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita told reporters traveling with Mr. Rumsfeld that the secretary wanted to recognize the success of the Jan. 30 general elections in Iraq and “see for himself some of the recent developments in Iraqi security force training.”



RUSSIA

Arms sale protest upsets military

Russia yesterday accused the United States of unfair competition in global arms sales after the Bush administration objected to an agreement to sell 100,000 AK-47 rifles to the leftist government of Venezuela.

“Such protests of the American administration should be viewed as nothing other than a dishonest form of competition and an attempt to squeeze Russian producers out of the arms market,” a Russian military official told Interfax news agency.

The Washington Times first reported the deal in yesterday’s editions.

“Kalashnikov assault rifles are not subject to any limitations. The international community has not announced any sanctions against Venezuela. So, there are no obstacles to trade with this country,” Interfax quoted the official as saying.

IRAN

President warns against war threat

TEHRAN — Iran, facing mounting U.S. pressure over its nuclear program, yesterday promised a “burning hell” for any aggressor, as tens of thousands marched to mark the 26th anniversary of its Islamic revolution.

“The Iranian nation does not seek war, does not seek violence and dispute. But the world must know that this nation will not tolerate any invasion,” President Mohammed Khatami said in a fiery speech as a crowd in central Tehran, braving heavy snow, chanted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”

In Berlin, roughly 2,000 Iranian exiles from across Europe marched yesterday, calling for democratic change in Iran.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Al Qaeda leader hits U.S. call for ‘freedom’

DUBAI — An audio tape purportedly from deputy al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri blasted the “U.S. concept of freedom,” Arabic television Al Jazeera said yesterday.

“The freedom that we want is not the freedom to destroy others … it is not the freedom that allows [America] to support oppressive regimes that are U.S. allies or the freedom for Israel to annihilate Muslims,” said the speaker on the tape.

NATO

Alliance to expand Afghan operation

NICE, France — NATO announced it was ready to launch a long-delayed expansion of peacekeeping duties in Afghanistan yesterday, but said it was still short of staff for an officer training mission in Iraq.

The United States pushed European allies during talks in France to add more forces to both operations. The expansion will involve a 500-head increase in NATO’s existing force of 8,500 in the capital Kabul and the north.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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