- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 14, 2005

EGYPT

Reporters threatened for groping complaints

CAIRO — Female journalists molested and groped by Egyptian security on referendum day last month are being threatened by the government for the complaints they filed, some of the reporters and a human rights group said yesterday.

The Arab Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession voiced concern that despite an ongoing investigation into the May 25 molestations, “victims and witnesses have been subject to threats and intimidation by … policemen.”

Authorities gave no immediate reaction. The head of the Arab Center, Nasser Amin, told Agence France-Presse that he would file a complaint with the attorney general and demand that the well-being of the victims be assured.

QATAR

Algerian envoy urges African debt relief

DOHA — Algerian presidential envoy Abdelaziz Belkhadem called on wealthy nations yesterday to reduce the debt burden on poor African nations by turning part of it into social investments.

Wealthy countries should “reduce the debt burden on African nations by forgiving part of it or transforming debt into social investments in education and health sectors,” he told Agence France-Presse. “This will help African peoples overcome problems of disease, poverty and illiteracy,” Mr. Belkhadem said on the sidelines of the summit of the Group of 77 and China scheduled to open here today.

Mr. Belkhadem said the total debt owed by African countries is $350 billion, “which is the same amount paid by Europe annually as subsidies for its agriculture sector.”

IRAN

Candidates pine for U.S. ties

TEHRAN — In 1974, an Iranian cleric made a road trip across the United States, stopping to marvel at giant redwood trees or peer through the gates of Hollywood villas.

Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani later wrote in his memoirs that he was revolted by the loose morals of Americans, but that there was much Iran could learn from their political freedoms.

Thirty-one years later, if anyone dares take up the challenge of restoring diplomatic ties with Washington, severed in 1980, it is likely to be the wily, well-traveled Mr. Rafsanjani, who is expected to win Friday’s presidential election.

“The worst thing this regime ever did was to allow our ties with the United States to vanish,” said a history teacher here who identified himself only as Abbas. “We feel left out in the cold, like children who have not been invited to a party.” Other presidential candidates like Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and Mohsen Rezaie, former Revolutionary Guard leaders, also say a thaw with the West is needed.

Weekly notes

Israel’s usually solid relations with the United States took a battering yesterday as a spat over arms sales to China escalated before a visit to the region by Washington’s top diplomat. Yuval Steinitz, chairman of the Israeli parliament’s foreign affairs and defense committee, said ties are at a crisis point but that Israel must retain a measure of independence from its main ally. His comment followed Pentagon confirmation that the Bush administration had raised concerns about Israeli transfers of military equipment and technology to China. … Syria has appointed Gen. Ali Mamluk as head of intelligence, replacing Gen. Hisham Akhtiar, who has joined the Ba’ath Party’s new leadership, a party member said yesterday. Gen. Akhtiar, 64, will head the national security office, which controls the work of Syria’s various security services. The reshuffle followed a four-day party congress that elected a new 14-man leadership, with President Bashar Assad re-elected as secretary-general.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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