Manhattan probes ex-oil-for-food chief
NEW YORK — Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau has launched a criminal investigation of former U.N. oil-for-food chief, Benon Sevan, the official’s spokeswoman said yesterday.
Barbara Thompson would not give details of the investigation into Mr. Sevan, who came under scathing criticism in a February report by U.N.-backed investigators probing accusations of corruption in the $64 billion program. The program operated from 1996 to 2003 and was aimed at easing the effect of U.N. sanctions on Iraq.
It wasn’t clear how long Mr. Morgenthau has been investigating Mr. Sevan. Last year, the U.N.-backed inquiry had sought Mr. Morgenthau’s help in the oil-for-food probe, investigators said at the time.
Pyongyang offered additional food aid
SEOUL — South Korea agreed to give 500,000 tons of rice to North Korea to help stave off a food crisis in the reclusive, communist state, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said today at the end of bilateral economic talks.
North Korea announced Saturday that it will return this month to long-stalled talks on ending its nuclear weapons programs, and officials in Seoul have said they hope humanitarian aid can advance the diplomatic process.
North Korea’s pressing food shortage has been seen as partially contributing to Pyongyang’s decision to resume the talks.
Ex-premier probed in property deal
MOSCOW — Prosecutors said yesterday that they have opened a criminal investigation of former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov — the latest critic of President Vladimir Putin to face legal trouble.
Mr. Kasyanov was under investigation over fraud and abuse of office related to the legality of a real estate transaction, the general prosecutor’s office said.
Fired by Mr. Putin last year, Mr. Kasyanov has emerged as a harsh critic of his former boss and has not ruled out running in the 2008 presidential election. Mr. Putin is constitutionally barred from seeking re-election.
U.S. troops kill 14 insurgents
BAGHDAD — U.S. soldiers killed 14 insurgents in two days of fighting in a strategic northern city, the American military said yesterday, and gunmen killed 10 Iraqi soldiers in the central Sunni heartland.
Soldiers of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment killed four insurgents in a gunbattle Sunday, the U.S. command reported, and 10 were killed yesterday as fighting raged in Tal Afar, north of Baghdad.
However, insurgents bloodied an Iraqi force in Khalis, 45 miles north of Baghdad, killing eight soldiers. Later, a car bomb exploded a few miles away as an Iraqi army patrol passed, killing two soldiers.
Gays plan ‘Homo Light’ soda
OSLO — Norwegian homosexuals are set to launch a soda brand, “Homo Light,” at an upcoming gastronomic festival, in the hope that it will help promote tolerance.
Pear-flavored and pink, Homo Light will go on sale as a one-time offer at a stand at the July 27-30 festival in the southwestern town of Stavanger. The group also will sell rainbow-colored pasta salads.
Norway, which has allowed homosexuals to form marriagelike partnerships since 1993, is one of the world’s most liberal countries when it comes to homosexual rights.
Bakiyev vows to revive democracy
BISHKEK — Kyrgyzstan’s newly elected president pledged yesterday to relaunch democratic reforms in his Central Asian state, whose image as an island of freedom in a mostly authoritarian area had been lost under his predecessor.
Kurmanbek Bakiyev also questioned the continuing presence of a U.S. military base on Kyrgyz soil while making no mention of a similar Russian facility, signaling he would respect long-standing ties with Moscow.
Mr. Bakiyev, 55, had been acting president of the ex-Soviet state since veteran leader Askar Akayev was toppled in March by a wave of popular protests over fraudulent parliamentary elections.