- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 10, 2005

BRITAIN

Suspects face release in terror-law deadlock

LONDON — A British judge said yesterday he would free all terrorism suspects held under emergency powers after September 11, 2001, even as Prime Minister Tony Blair battled to replace the laws before they expire next week.

Debate raged in both houses of a deadlocked Parliament over Mr. Blair’s plan to replace the power to imprison foreigners without trial — which judges ruled unlawful last year — with measures including house arrest applying to foreigners and Britons alike.

London police Chief Ian Blair said that if the bill is not passed by Monday, the suspects will be released. Parliament is off today.

PAKISTAN

Khan sold Iran nuke centrifuges

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan acknowledged yesterday for the first time that a disgraced Pakistani scientist at the center of a nuclear black market gave Iran centrifuges that can be used to make atomic weapons.

Centrifuges purify uranium for use as fuel in atomic power plants or bombs. Washington thinks Iran’s centrifuge program, which it concealed for nearly two decades from the United Nations, is at the heart of clandestine plans for an atomic bomb.

Pakistan has acknowledged that Abdul Qadeer Khan, dubbed the father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb, smuggled nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran and Libya. But this is the first time Islamabad said he supplied Iran with centrifuges.

ISRAEL

Gunmen break up Fatah meeting

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Masked Palestinian gunmen burst into a meeting of the ruling Fatah Party yesterday, shooting into the air and forcing participants to disperse in a brazen challenge to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Mr. Abbas said he still is confident that militants will agree to a formal cease-fire at a meeting next week in Egypt.

More than 1,000 Fatah grass-roots activists were meeting in a new hotel in Ramallah when two dozen gunmen from the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, dressed in military-style fatigues, their faces covered, burst into the room. They shouted slogans charging the Fatah leadership with complicity in widespread corruption. The meeting broke up in disarray.

RUSSIA

Helicopter crash kills 14 servicemen

ROSTOV-ON-DON — A Russian helicopter hit a power line and crashed near the Chechen capital yesterday, killing 14 Russian servicemen and seriously wounding two others, officials said.

According to preliminary information, the Mi-8 helicopter did not come under hostile fire before crashing near Grozny, said Vladimir Gerasin, a spokesman for the regional branch of Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry.

He said 14 of the 16 persons on board died. The helicopter, which belonged to Russia’s Interior Ministry, caught fire after slamming into the ground, Mr. Gerasin said.

VENEZUELA

Chavez, Khatami to sign energy accords

CARACAS — Iranian President Mohammed Khatami arrived late yesterday in Caracas on a three-day official visit in which he will sign a series of energy accords with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Venezuelan Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel met Mr. Khatami at Maiquetia International Airport, north of the capital. Mr. Chavez had not returned from France, his final stop on a tour that included India and Qatar.

The visit will be Mr. Khatami’s third to Caracas, and coincides with record highs in petroleum prices worldwide. The United States is critical of both nations’ leaders.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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