- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 29, 2005

AFGHANISTAN

U.S. bases to get $83 million upgrade

KABUL — The United States is pouring $83 million into upgrading its main military bases in Afghanistan, an Air Force general said yesterday in a sign that American forces likely will be needed in the country for years to come as al Qaeda remains active in the region.

Brig. Gen. Jim Hunt, the commander of U.S. air operations in Afghanistan, said the money is being spent on construction projects at Bagram, the main U.S. base north of Kabul, and Kandahar in the south. Both bases are being equipped with new runways.

Afghan leaders are seeking a long-term “strategic partnership” with the United States, which expects to complete the training of the country’s new 70,000-strong army next year, but it is not clear whether that will include permanent American bases.

SUDAN

15 officials arrested in Darfur crimes

KHARTOUM — Sudan for the first time has arrested military and security officials accused of raping and killing civilians and burning villages in the Darfur region in the west, the justice minister said yesterday.

Ali Mohamed Osman Yassin told reporters a government committee had arrested 15 members of the police, military and security forces in Darfur for human rights abuses and that they would be sent to court immediately.

EGYPT

Brotherhood reports 200 arrested

CAIRO — Egyptian police are holding about 200 members and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, detained before and during an attempt to protest outside parliament in favor of reform, the Brotherhood said yesterday.

Police took 84 Brotherhood leaders from their homes on Sunday morning and picked up more than 150 demonstrators from the streets later in the day, the group said. Thirty-four of the demonstrators have been released.

The Brotherhood, founded in 1928, is one of the most influential Islamist political movements in the Arab world and probably the largest single opposition group in Egypt.

CYPRUS

Greece backs talks on reunification

NEW YORK — A new international effort to reunify Cyprus moved closer to reality yesterday after Greece publicly threw its weight behind fresh talks on the basis of a U.N. plan that failed last year.

Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis said after meeting with Kofi Annan, the secretary-general of the United Nations, that “everybody now agrees” that reunification talks for the divided Mediterranean island should be relaunched.

Although Mr. Molyviatis did not name them, the four parties holding the key to fresh talks are the Turkish Cypriot north, the Greek Cypriot south, Greece and Turkey.

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