- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 5, 2005


Bush, Canadian discuss missile shield

President Bush told Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin yesterday he understood Mr. Martin’s decision to opt out of the planned U.S. missile-defense system, in a conciliatory gesture ahead of the prime minister’s U.S. visit.

In a phone call initiated by Mr. Martin, Mr. Bush raised the subject of missile defense and the two leaders discussed it briefly, according to U.S. and Canadian officials.

“The president expressed his understanding of the prime minister’s decision, but underscored the importance of redoubling our security cooperation efforts,” White House spokeswoman Erin Healy said. An aide to Mr. Martin described Mr. Bush as “conciliatory and very positive.”

Canada’s minority Liberal government announced Feb. 24 that it would not take part in the missile-defense system.


Palestinians seize bombs in crackdown

HEBRON, West Bank — Palestinian police seized bombs and other weapons in the West Bank for the first time in more than four years yesterday, a senior Palestinian security official said.

The official told Reuters that police raiding the West Bank town of Dura, south of Hebron, also arrested 16 suspects in the start of a new crackdown by the Palestinian Authority against lawlessness in its territories.

While the action seemed a move toward meeting the demands of Israel and a U.S.-backed “road map” peace plan for Palestinians to disarm gunmen, it was not clear whether any weapons seized had belonged to militants involved in attacking Israel.


Kuchma returns home after ex-aide’s death

KIEV — Former President Leonid Kuchma cut his vacation short and returned to Ukraine yesterday after the apparent suicide of his former interior minister, who faced questioning in the killing of a journalist investigating corruption under Mr. Kuchma.

The former president, who has been linked by opponents to the journalist’s slaying, made no comments in the Kiev airport upon returning from a Czech Republic spa. But before departing the Czech Republic, Mr. Kuchma said he was prepared to talk to prosecutors, Czech and Ukrainian television reported.


Russian troops put on alert before vote

MOSCOW — Russia has placed its troops on alert in Moldova’s separatist Trans-Dniester region, a news agency reported, yesterday, as tensions increased between the two countries ahead of today’s parliamentary elections in the former Soviet republic.

About 100 Russians heading for Moldova by train to observe the elections were stopped at the border and expected to be sent away, Russian media reported.

Ties between the two countries have soured over the Russian-speaking region, which effectively broke away from Moldova after a 1992 war that left about 1,500 people dead. Its separatist government is not recognized internationally, but receives support from Russia, whose troops give Moscow a foothold in the region.


China urges U.S. to start bilateral talks

BEIJING — The United States should meet one-on-one with North Korea to help revive stalled six-nation talks on the North’s nuclear program, a Chinese official was quoted as saying yesterday.

“To restart negotiations and make progress, I hope Washington agrees to hold bilateral talks with Pyongyang,” said Yang Xiyu, director of the China Foreign Ministry’s Office for Korean Peninsula Issues, according to the official newspaper China Daily.


FBI assists probe of journalist’s killing

BAKU — Investigators from Azerbaijan and the FBI have made headway in the case of slain opposition journalist Elmar Huseynov, which shocked this oil-rich Caucasus nation, local television reported yesterday.

FBI specialists and local investigators jointly “carried out forensic tests on bullet shells, blood and a hat with hair belonging to the shooter found at the crime scene,” ANS television reported.

Mr. Huseynov, editor of the opposition weekly Monitor, was gunned down outside his family’s apartment Wednesday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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