- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 1, 2006

MALAYSIA

Muslim nations to seek cease-fire

KUALA LUMPUR — The government said Muslim countries will call for an immediate cease-fire in the Middle East and discuss a formal U.N. peacekeeping force for Lebanon.

Malaysia currently chairs the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), and will host nearly 20 of its members in an emergency meeting tomorrow in Putrajaya, the country’s administrative capital.

“We want a U.N. peacekeeping force,” Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar was quoted as saying by the state news agency, Bernama. “We will also urge that such a force include the participation of Islamic nations,” he said. The gathering was planned as a meeting of the OIC executive committee, but was changed to include member countries concerned about the escalation of violence in the Middle East, officials said.

EGYPT

Talks to free Israeli soldier begin

GAZA STRIP — Egyptian mediators have begun efforts to free an Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip, but any breakthrough appears to be some way off, a senior Palestinian official said yesterday.

Israel undertook an offensive in Gaza after the June 25 abduction of Cpl. Gilad Shalit by militants including gunmen from the ruling Hamas faction. It opened a second front in Lebanon after Hezbollah seized two soldiers July 12.

Israel said it was not aware of any fresh Egyptian mediation and Hamas denied it was involved in such talks.

SOMALIA

Six more ministers quit Gedi government

MOGADISHU — Six more government ministers resigned yesterday, citing the 18-month-old administration’s unpopularity as hard-line Islamists widened their control in the center of the shattered Horn of Africa nation, officials said.

The resignations of Culture Minister Abdi Hashi Abdullahi, Water and Natural Resources Minister Muhamoud Salat Nur and four assistant ministers brought to 24 the number of ministers who have quit the 102-member Cabinet, and were submitted two days after Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi survived a motion of no confidence.

“Gedi’s government is unpopular among most members of parliament, and its work plans will not be accepted by the national assembly,” Mr. Nur told Agence France-Presse.

Weekly notes …

Three Moroccan lawyers said yesterday they are suing Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz for war crimes and crimes against humanity over the Israeli army’s attacks on Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. Khalid Soufiani, Abderrahmane Ben Amrou and Abderrahim Jamaie said they filed the lawsuit with the royal prosecutor at the Rabat Appeal Court because Mr. Peretz was born in Morocco and has dual Israeli-Moroccan nationality.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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