- The Washington Times - Friday, March 25, 2005

ISRAEL

U.S. urged to stop settlement expansion

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Senior Palestinian officials yesterday asked two U.S. envoys to help block the expansion of the largest Jewish settlement in the West Bank, saying it endangers peace prospects and isolates East Jerusalem, their intended capital.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the envoys — National Security Council official Elliott Abrams and David Welch, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs — expressed opposition to the Israeli plan to build 3,500 housing units around Maaleh Adumim, three miles east of Jerusalem, filling in the last piece of empty land.

In another development yesterday, the military eased some restrictions around the West Bank city of Nablus.

ICELAND

Chess great Fischer free in capital

REYKJAVIK — Chess legend Bobby Fischer yesterday recovered his freedom and arrived in Iceland, where he is to make his home after spending eight months in a Japanese prison with the threat of extradition to the United States hanging over his head.

The controversial former world champion, 62, who became a citizen of the Nordic country this week, arrived late at night in the Icelandic capital. He flew from Tokyo via Copenhagen on the Scandinavian carrier SAS and then on a private plane chartered by Icelandic television.

The grandmaster stepped down from the aircraft at Reykjavik’s little urban airport a few minutes after touchdown, slightly unsteady.

GUATEMALA

U.S. lifts ban on military aid

GUATEMALA CITY — Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld yesterday announced the lifting of a ban on $3.2 million in military aid to Guatemala, where the military has been accused of decades of human rights abuses.

Guatemalan President Oscar Berger assured Mr. Rumsfeld at a joint press conference that Guatemala’s military has been reformed, but the secretary said the U.S. government will monitor the military’s actions.

MALAYSIA

Religious police’s powers curtailed

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia clipped the wings of its religious police yesterday, warning that it did not want to be like Afghanistan under Taliban rule.

The religious police stirred a storm of protest with heavy-handed behavior during a January raid on a nightclub in the Malaysian capital, and in another incident by detaining a transsexual person visiting the home of Muslim friends.

Raids by religious police now must first be approved by the district’s chief of police, and senior police officers must accompany the raiders to ensure someone can be held accountable if a raid goes awry.

CHILE

Pinochet gets immunity in trial

SANTIAGO — Chile’s Supreme Court yesterday reinstated ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet’s immunity from prosecution in the 1974 car bombing assassination of political foe Gen. Carlos Prats in Buenos Aires, a court official said.

Gen. Pinochet, 89, has been accused in almost 300 human rights cases related to the thousands of killings and tortures during his 1973-90 regime, when the military repressed leftists and opposition movements.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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