- The Washington Times - Friday, March 25, 2005

ISRAEL

U.S. envoy backs West Bank outposts

JERUSALEM — U.S. Ambassador Dan Kurtzer yesterday reaffirmed Washington’s support for Israel to retain major West Bank settlements under any Middle East peace pact just days after Israel announced plans to expand a settlement outside Jerusalem, angering Palestinians.

Mr. Kurtzer told Israeli news media that it was unrealistic to expect Israel to withdraw from the entire West Bank. He said he was simply reiterating the policy announced by President Bush last year.

However, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in an interview to the Los Angeles Times yesterday that Israel’s plan to expand the Maaleh Adumim settlement was “at odds with American policy.”

CUBA

EU official holds talks on ties

HAVANA — European Union commissioner Louis Michel met with top Cuban officials yesterday, the latest sign of warming relations despite tension over Cuba’s imprisonment of dissidents.

Mr. Michel, who arrived in Havana late Thursday, and six other members of an EU delegation started the day yesterday with official talks with Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque.

LEBANON

Government accepts U.N. Hariri probe

BEIRUT — Lebanese authorities, put on the defensive by a U.N. report on security failings, indicated yesterday they would accept an international inquiry into the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

A United Nations fact-finding team said in a report released Thursday that Lebanon’s inquiry into Mr. Hariri’s death on Feb. 14 was seriously flawed and called for an international investigation, a demand long made by the Lebanese opposition.

Lebanon’s pro-Syrian officials criticized the report’s findings. Mr. Hariri’s assassination plunged Lebanon into a political crisis that prompted the resignation of the government, led to mass protests by the opposition and loyalists, and put pressure on Syria to withdraw all its forces from its tiny neighbor.

ANGOLA

Ebolalike virus toll rises to 112

LISBON — The death toll from an Ebolalike fever in the African nation of Angola rose to 112 yesterday, with three deaths reported in its capital.

A 15-year-old boy, an Italian aid worker and a Vietnamese doctor died in Luanda from the hemorrhagic fever, health officials reported, according to the Portuguese news agency Lusa. Two other cases of the illness were detected in Luanda.

Health officials said all five patients had come from Uige, the province along the Congo border where the outbreak was first reported. The World Health Organization said Tuesday the illness was Marburg, a disease similar to Ebola.

GHANA

17 feared killed in fuel tanker fire

ACCRA — Sparks from a welder’s torch ignited a fuel leak on a Greek tanker yesterday, causing a fire that trapped at least 17 persons, who were feared dead, and shutting the West African nation’s sole oil refinery, officials and witnesses said.

The fire aboard the MV Polaris sent flames and black plumes of smoke into the sky at Ghana’s main port of Tema, 12 miles east of the capital, Accra, witnesses said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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