- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 18, 2005

FRANCE

Lebanese leader pursues stronger ties

PARIS — France wants to deepen its historical ties with Lebanon by developing bilateral cooperation, French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said yesterday as he met his Lebanese counterpart, Fuad Siniora. It was the latter’s first visit to France as head of government. He visited the United States last month.

Mr. Siniora, speaking in English, said security in his country is “getting much better,” despite international concerns over the February assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who was seeking a return to office.

IRAN

Bomb defused days after attack

TEHRAN — Iranian police said yesterday they defused a large bomb planted under a bridge in the tense southwestern city of Ahvaz, just days after a double bomb attack there killed six persons and injured more than 100.

The Islamic republic’s judiciary says “foreign states” are behind unrest in the oil-rich province, and a senior lawmaker charged that explosives and weapons seized near Ahvaz came from British troops based just across the border in Iraq.

Police told state television they acted on a tip from residents who spotted a suspicious package under a busy bridge in Ahvaz, the capital of Khuzestan province dominated by ethnic Arabs.

ISRAEL

Palestinians arrest two ‘collaborators’

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Palestinian gunmen yesterday seized two men they accused of collaborating with Israel in another sign of lawlessness in the Gaza Strip that Israeli occupation forces quit last month.

The Knights of the Tempest, a new armed group within the Fatah movement, said it arrested the men because security forces had failed to bring suspected collaborators to justice during the five-year-old uprising.

Weekly notes …

A Saudi judicial source in Riyadh said the kingdom expects the United States to release several Saudi prisoners held at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during the holy month of Ramadan. The daily Okaz quoted the source as saying negotiations yesterday made great progress on permanently closing the issue of Saudi prisoners at Guantanamo and that an indefinite number of them are expected to be freed before the end of Ramadan in early November. … Saudi security forces found in a Riyadh suburb an arms depot and bomb-making facilities thought to belong to the al Qaeda network, newspaper reports said yesterday. Al-Watan reported that security forces seized a militant hide-out in the city of Kharg, 43 miles from Riyadh. “The place was used to stock arms and manufacture explosives,” the paper said. Neighbors said the house was deserted and they hadn’t seen anyone there in a long time.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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