U.S. official hints at end to sanctions
The Bush administration may lift about $75 million in trade sanctions on Ukraine in the next few weeks, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Daniel Fried said at a House hearing yesterday.
Mr. Fried said the move was in response to the passage of a major new law in Ukraine against intellectual-property piracy of computer disks. He said the administration also is reviewing whether other U.S. trade preferences should be restored for Ukraine.
Nuclear research to resume
TEHRAN — Iran’s outgoing president said yesterday his country will restart some activities that could be used to make atomic weapons despite the outcome of talks with key European powers aimed at reducing suspicions about Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
President Mohammed Khatami, who will be replaced by hard-line president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad next month, said the government already has decided to resume uranium reprocessing at a nuclear plant in central Iran.
Separately, Iran’s defense minister said the nation has fully developed solid-fuel technology in producing missiles, a major breakthrough that increases the accuracy of missiles hitting targets.
Iran already has missiles capable of reaching Israel and U.S. forces based in the Middle East.
Refugees returning under U.N. protection
BISHKEK — The U.N. refugee agency said it began an operation yesterday to remove hundreds of Uzbek refugees from Kyrgyzstan to ensure they are not forced to return to their home country, where they fear persecution.
The Uzbeks fled to Kyrgyzstan in May after an uprising in the eastern city in Andijan that was suppressed violently by security forces.
The 455 refugees were being flown from southern Kyrgyzstan to the capital, Bishkek. From there, they will travel to a third, unspecified country, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said.
Pond being drained in search for body
ORANJESTAD — Investigators trying to determine what happened to Natalee Holloway focused their search efforts yesterday on a pond near where the American teen was last seen nearly two months ago.
Authorities used a large pump to drain the pond across from the Aruba Marriott Resort while investigators awaited the results of DNA analyses from labs in the Netherlands and the United States.
Authorities declined to discuss the exact purpose of draining the pond, but confirmed it was part of the investigation into Miss Holloway’s disappearance on May 30 — the final night of a high school graduation trip to the Dutch Caribbean island.
Murderer to be charged as terrorist
ROTTERDAM — Dutch prosecutors said yesterday they will charge the man imprisoned for life for murdering filmmaker Theo van Gogh as a member of an Islamic terror network thought to have plotted attacks against politicians.
The plans to charge Mohammed Bouyeri as a member of the Hofstad Network were revealed at a custody hearing for 11 other purported members.
Bouyeri, 27, was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment on Tuesday for Mr. van Gogh’s murder, which judges ruled was an act of terrorism since it was motivated by a radical Islamic cause.
Mubarak expected to announce candidacy
CAIRO — President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for almost a quarter century, will announce his intention to run in September elections and officially will be nominated by his party by today, a lawmaker and the nation’s state-owned newspapers said.
The ruling National Democratic Party will convene today to announce that Mr. Mubarak will be its nominee for the Sept. 7 presidential elections, said NDP legislator Ahmed Abou Zeid.
Mr. Mubarak, 77, succeeded Anwar Sadat, who was assassinated in 1981 by Islamic militants during a Cairo military parade.
Fire rages on offshore oil rigaaaaaaaa
NEW DELHI — A major fire is raging at an offshore oil-drilling platform in the Arabian Sea owned by India’s state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp., the country’s oil minister said.
The platform is 100 miles west of Bombay off the coast of western Maharashtra state.
From wire dispatches and staff reports