- The Washington Times - Monday, February 14, 2005

ISRAEL

Cabinet OKs release of 500 Palestinians

JERUSALEM — The Cabinet yesterday approved a list of 500 Palestinian prisoners to be released in the coming days, and several hundred Palestinian workers returned to jobs in Israel in line with agreements reached at a summit last week.

At the Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon also told law-enforcement agencies to act against Jewish extremists opposing his plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

Several Cabinet ministers have been threatened or attacked in recent days, part of the charged political climate over Mr. Sharon’s plan to pull out of Gaza and four West Bank settlements this summer.

GERMANY

Europe gets tougher on Iranian program

TEHRAN — Germany warned yesterday that Iran could be referred to the U.N. Security Council for its nuclear activities — a toughening of the European line that narrows a rift between Europe and Washington.

“If Iran were to behave unreasonably, against its own interests, if it for example restarted [uranium] enrichment … then that would lead to the Security Council,” where economic sanctions would be discussed, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said at a security conference.

France, Britain and Germany have been trying to persuade Iran to scrap weapons-related activities in return for economic incentives.

SRUSSIA

Lectures unwelcome at Bush-Putin summit

MUNICH — Russia is fed up with being lectured by the West on democracy, but is willing to discuss the issue frankly at a summit with the United States this month, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said yesterday.

Eight days after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Moscow must show its commitment to “the basics of democracy,” Mr. Ivanov said Moscow was ready for an open exchange when Presidents Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet.

But, he said, “Democracy is not a potato that you can transplant from one kitchen garden to another. I believe that in recent years, democracy in Russia has been developing normally.”

UNITED NATIONS

Human cloning ban on the table again

NEW YORK — U.N. diplomats, deadlocked for years over the drafting of a treaty to ban the cloning of human beings worldwide, open negotiations today on an alternative that would instead urge each government to adopt its own laws on human cloning.

At the heart of the debate is so-called “therapeutic” cloning, in which human embryos are cloned to obtain the cells used in the studies and are later discarded.

Many governments view this type of research, for whatever purpose, as the taking of human life.

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