- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 28, 2005

AFGHANISTAN

Powerful minister says he is stepping down

KABUL — Afghanistan’s interior minister, one of the most prominent faces in President Hamid Karzai’s Cabinet, announced his resignation yesterday after struggling to combat the country’s booming drug trade.

Mr. Karzai’s office played down the significance of Ahmad Ali Jalali’s decision to quit, ostensibly to pursue an academic career in the United States.

Mr. Jalali has expressed frustration about the suspected involvement of senior officials in Afghanistan’s drug trade, even as the government has stepped up a campaign to crack down on the world’s largest narcotics industry.

IRAN

Government ups ante over nuclear vote

TEHRAN — Iran broadened its threats yesterday over a move to refer it to the U.N. Security Council, vowing to resume its nuclear activities and cut trade with countries that supported the resolution if the pressure continues.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Iran was considering reducing its trade with those countries that voted for last week’s resolution at the International Atomic Energy Agency, particularly India.

“We will reconsider our economic relations with countries that voted against us,” he told a press conference, noting that India had previously expressed interest in a pipeline to import Iranian natural gas.

RUSSIA

Putin coy about post-office plans

MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin told the nation yesterday that he opposed changing the constitution to extend his rule, but he dropped hints about an new role that he might assume after stepping down in 2008.

“I don’t consider it appropriate to introduce any changes in the constitution,” Mr. Putin told a national television audience, but added a hint that he was not going to leave the political scene altogether: “As they say in the military, ‘I’ll find my place in the ranks’” after 2008.

Speculation has been rife that the Kremlin is searching for ways to keep Mr. Putin, who enjoys a 70 percent approval rating, in place after his second term ends.

From wire dispatches and staff report

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