- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 31, 2005

ITALY

Beatification begins for Pope John Paul II

VATICAN CITY — The process to beatify Pope John Paul II has officially begun with an edict inviting witnesses to testify about his saintliness and asking anyone with his manuscripts, letters or other documents to give them to the Vatican.

The edict was published over the weekend, two weeks after Benedict XVI announced he was lifting a five-year waiting period for the start of the process toward beatification, the last formal step before possible canonization of the late pontiff.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, who is vicar of Rome, said the edict came in response to the “sensational calls” for John Paul to be declared a saint that erupted after his April 2 death.

IRAQ

Zarqawi tape claims wounds were minor

DUBAI — Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab Zarqawi told Osama bin Laden in an audio tape attributed to him that he had only “minor” wounds, denying reports he was seriously injured.

“I think news has reached your ears through the media that I was seriously wounded. … I would like to assure you and assure Muslims that these are baseless rumors and that my wounds are minor,” the voice on the tape said.

“I am now with the help of God enjoying good health among my brothers and my people in Iraq,” it added. The authenticity of the tape could not be immediately verified.

KYRGYZSTAN

Senators are told refugees can stay

BISHKEK — Three U.S. senators said yesterday they had won assurances from Kyrgyzstan that hundreds of Uzbek refugees would not be sent back to the country they fled to escape bloodshed earlier this month.

But speaking in Vienna, Austria, Kyrgyzstan’s acting president avoided giving any guarantee that his impoverished ex-Soviet state would not bow to diplomatic pressure from Uzbekistan, which is pressing for the return of its citizens.

SUDAN

Aid agency leader jailed over report

KHARTOUM — Sudan arrested the local head of an international aid agency yesterday over a report on hundreds of rapes in Darfur in the first such action against a top relief worker since a rebellion in the area began in 2003.

Paul Foreman, the country head of the Dutch branch of aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), said he had been arrested but was being freed on bail.

LATVIA

U.S. warns allyon money laundering

RIGA — The United States stepped up pressure on Latvia yesterday to curb money laundering, praising the Baltic state for taking legal action but criticizing the level of co-operation by some banks.

U.S. Treasury Undersecretary Stuart Levey, in Latvia to meet government and banking officials, said progress had been made in fighting money laundering but much more was needed.

“The problem in Latvia is a significant one and it’s one where we are taking action not only by identifying banks, but my visit here shows we are taking things seriously,” he said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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