- The Washington Times - Monday, November 7, 2005


Zoellick sets off on Darfur mission

Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick headed to Kenya and Sudan yesterday to prod fractious Sudanese rebel leaders and the Khartoum government toward a peace deal in Darfur.

Despite the Bush administration’s sustained involvement in Sudan, some members of Congress and rights groups worry that Washington is being too soft on Khartoum’s Islamist leadership.

“Helping to end violence, ease suffering and forge a lasting political solution for Sudan’s conflicts remain high priorities for the United States,” Mr. Zoellick said last week. This will be his fourth trip to Sudan since April.


Nuclear inspections allowed; talks sought

TEHRAN — Iran sought to defuse tensions over its nuclear program yesterday, confirming that it had let U.N. inspectors visit a military complex and calling for a revival of talks with the European Union.

The official Islamic Republic News Agency said Iran had written to Britain, France and Germany, calling for the resumption of negotiations that broke down in August.

In a further sign Iran wants to avoid confrontation, Tehran confirmed that it had allowed U.N. nuclear inspectors to visit a military base that Washington suspects is linked to a covert nuclear weapons program.


Interviews requested with Syrian officers

BEIRUT — The chief U.N. investigator examining the killing of a former Lebanese prime minister has requested interviews with six senior Syrian intelligence officers, a paper reported yesterday quoting Lebanese sources.

Detlev Mehlis made the requests to the Syrian government via the United Nations to question the officers, who include Syrian President Bashar Assad’s brother-in-law, Assef Shawkat, the pan-Arab daily newspaper al-Hayat said.

It said that Mr. Mehlis wanted the interviews to take place in Lebanon, not in Syria. The German prosecutor has complained that Syrian security figures interviewed in Damascus last month appeared to give only prepared responses.


Iraqi airliner lands after 25-year gap

TEHRAN — The first Iraqi passenger flight in 25 years landed in Tehran yesterday, an Iranian aviation official said.

The Iraqi Airways Boeing 737 is the latest harbinger of rapprochement between the neighbors who fought a war of attrition from 1980 to 1988. The conflict killed hundreds of thousands on both sides.

Iraqi Airways is planning to fly scheduled flights to Iran on Wednesdays and Fridays starting Nov. 16, said Reza Jafarzadeh, spokesman for Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization.


Reputed trafficker of guns, drugs nabbed

BOGOTA — Colombian troops and police have captured a reputed drug trafficker wanted by the United States on charges of selling massive amounts of cocaine to buy guns for Marxist guerrillas, the army said yesterday.

Farouk Shaikh Reyes, a clandestine member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, was arrested at Bogota’s El Dorado airport as he arrived on a flight from his home in Mexico Saturday night.

The army said Shaikh Reyes swapped cocaine for weapons for the FARC and was part of a network supplying $150 million worth of cocaine a month to the United States and Europe.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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