- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 16, 2005

LEBANON

Hezbollah leader rejects disarmament

BEIRUT — Hezbollah’s leader yesterday rejected a suggestion by President Bush that his militants disarm and enter the political mainstream, saying the group will never leave Lebanon defenseless.

Sheik Hassan Nasrallah criticized Mr. Bush for not responding to Lebanese demands that Israeli warplanes stop flying over Lebanon, and for not calling on Israel to release its Lebanese detainees.

But Hezbollah reacted positively to Mr. Bush’s suggestion that it move into the mainstream, saying the United States was trying a different approach toward the organization than it has in the past.

AFGHANISTAN

Mine explosion kills U.S. soldier

KABUL — A land mine left from Afghanistan’s wars killed a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan, the military said yesterday.

News of the explosion came as Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the United States is considering putting long-term bases in Afghanistan as it repositions its forces worldwide.

The mine hit a group of U.S. military police on Tuesday near an American base in Shindand killing one soldier and injuring four more.

CANADA

Suspects acquitted in Air-India bombing

VANCOUVER — After a two-year trial, a Canadian judge yesterday acquitted two Indian-born Sikhs of murder and other charges in the deaths of 331 persons killed when bombs exploded aboard an Air-India plane over the Atlantic and at a Tokyo airport 20 years ago.

British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Ian Bruce Josephson said the prosecution’s key witnesses were not credible. The bombings were the deadliest terrorist strike before the September 11 attacks.

The defendants, Ripudaman Singh Malik, 58, and Ajaib Singh Bagri, 55, were released as the victims’ families wept.

KYRGYZSTAN

U.S. urges leader not to cling to power

BISHKEK — U.S. Ambassador Stephen Young yesterday called on Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev to fulfill a pledge to stand down this year as opposition groups kept up protests demanding his resignation after a disputed parliamentary vote.

The results of the vote, held on Feb. 27 with runoffs in many regions on March 13, handed Mr. Akayev’s supporters a big victory seven months before a presidential race.

CROATIA

EU entry talks delayed over fugitive

BRUSSELS — The European Union sent a powerful signal to would-be members in the Balkans yesterday by postponing entry talks with Croatia to punish its failure to arrest a top war crimes suspect seen by many Croats as a hero.

Foreign ministers set no new date for the talks. U.N. war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte has told the European Union that Zagreb has not done enough to hand over fugitive Gen. Ante Gotovina.

SPAIN

Sex sweep nets 500 in 12 nations

MADRID — More than 500 suspected pedophiles who reportedly traded material over the Internet have been arrested in 12 countries in Europe and Latin America, Spanish police coordinating the operation said yesterday.

Police told Agence France-Presse that 19 arrests were made in Spain, with the remainder in France, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Panama and Uruguay.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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