Uzbek leader feted after crackdown
BEIJING — China rolled out the red carpet for Uzbekistan’s president yesterday, underscoring the importance it places on curbing the rise of Islamic militancy as it welcomed the authoritarian leader criticized in the West for a bloody crackdown on protesters.
President Islam Karimov is “an old friend of the Chinese people,” Chinese President Hu Jintao said during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People, the seat of China’s legislature.
State television showed the two leaders smiling and shaking hands.
Uzbek opposition groups and human rights activists claim more than 700 people — mostly unarmed civilians — were killed earlier this month when the government moved to crush protests.
Mystery grows on Zarqawi’s fate
CAIRO — The Internet and Baghdad streets are teeming with statements about terror mastermind Abu Musab Zarqawi. One says he is being treated outside Iraq for gunshot wounds to the lung. Another calls on Muslims to pray for him, indicating his condition may be dire. None is confirmed.
The latest furor over Zarqawi began Tuesday when an Internet statement called on Muslims to pray for his life, followed by competing statements on his health and whereabouts.
The mystery deepened yesterday after reports that two Arab doctors in another country were treating Zarqawi, chief of al Qaeda in Iraq and wanted for some of the deadliest attacks in the country.
Military denies plotting coup
LA PAZ — The head of Bolivia’s armed forces denied yesterday the military was preparing for a coup, as the government vowed to prosecute two officers who called for the ouster of President Carlos Mesa.
Rumors of a coup have persisted as protests convulse South America’s poorest nation. Leftist peasant groups are calling for a new constitution and the nationalization of Bolivia’s natural gas reserves, while provinces rich in natural resources demand more regional autonomy.
Seoul to give funds to cloning pioneer
SEOUL — The government said yesterday it will give an extra $1 million in funding to a South Korean cloning pioneer, a week after he stunned the world with another breakthrough in stem-cell research.
Dr. Hwang Woo-suk made headlines last week when he created the world’s first embryonic stem cells that genetically match injured or sick patients — a major step in the quest to grow patients’ own replacement tissue to treat diseases.
Dr. Hwang’s latest work, published in the journal Science, came just a year after his team at Seoul National University shocked the world by cloning a human embryo.
To the envy of many scientists abroad, Dr. Hwang already receives full government support. The South Korean government provides $2 million in pure research funds to Dr. Hwang’s team, and $24.4 million in facility assistance for stem cell and related research.
Tehran vows again not to develop nukes
GENEVA — Iran yesterday renewed its promise to refrain from developing nuclear weapons and left the door open for further talks this summer, Britain’s foreign minister said as negotiators appeared to be inching toward an agreement on Tehran’s atomic program.
After three hours of talks, foreign ministers mediating the issue on behalf of the European Union agreed to come up with more proposals and give them to Iran at the end of July or early August, British Foreign Minister Jack Straw said.