- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 17, 2005

ISRAEL

Sharon signals OK for early election

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will call an early election if the new Labor Party leader demands it, Israel’s foreign minister said yesterday, signaling the vote could be held in March.

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, speaking to Israel Radio from a conference in Tunisia, said Mr. Sharon told him at a recent meeting there was “no reason to delay the matter” of an early national election, now expected in November 2006.

Amir Peretz, a trade union leader who ousted Shimon Peres as Labor’s leader in a Nov. 9 party ballot, has vowed to quit Mr. Sharon’s coalition, saying he will seek the prime minister’s agreement on an election date in talks today.

GERMANY

3 Iraqis charged in plot to kill Allawi

BERLIN — Germany has charged three Iraqis with plotting to kill former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi during a state visit to Germany last year, federal prosecutors announced yesterday.

The three are suspected of being members of the radical Islamic group Ansar al-Islam. Prosecutors said they filed the case Nov. 10 with a state court in the southern city of Stuttgart.

The suspects — all German residents — were arrested in pre-dawn raids Dec. 3, 2004.

ITALY

Parliament approves constitutional reforms

ROME — The Italian parliament yesterday approved a radical overhaul of the Italian Constitution, strengthening the powers of the prime minister and handing more decision-making muscle to the regions.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says the bitterly contested package, which represents the first major reform of the constitution since its introduction in 1948, will regenerate Italy’s creaking system of government.

Opposition parties say it will wreck national unity and have pledged to overturn it in a referendum next year.

AFGHANISTAN

3 killed in explosion aimed at U.S. convoy

KANDAHAR — A suicide car-bomber attacked a military convoy including U.S. troops in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar yesterday, killing three Afghan civilians, witnesses and a senior official said.

On Monday, two suicide car-bomb attacks killed four persons, including a German soldier, in the capital, Kabul. A day later, five Afghan police were killed after a roadside bomb hit their convoy in the southeastern province of Paktika, where the same day another bomb killed a U.S. soldier.

CUBA

CIA thinks Castro has Parkinson’s

The CIA has concluded that Cuban leader Fidel Castro suffers from Parkinson’s disease and has warned U.S. policy-makers to be ready for trouble if the 79-year-old leader’s health erodes in the next few years, Knight Ridder news service reported.

The nonfatal but debilitating condition would mean Mr. Castro may be entering a period in which doctors say the symptoms grow more evident, medicines are less effective and mental functions start to deteriorate.

Rumors that Mr. Castro has Parkinson’s have been around since the mid-1990s. The CIA began briefing senior members of the State Department and lawmakers about one year ago that its doctors had become convinced that Mr. Castro was diagnosed with the disease around 1998, two officials familiar with the briefings said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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