- The Washington Times - Monday, December 25, 2006

GAZA STRIP

Haniyeh-Abbas talks scheduled for Jordan

GAZA CITY — Jordan will host talks between Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah after a surge in factional violence, a Hamas official said yesterday.

Ghazi Hamad, a spokesman for the Hamas-led Palestinian government, said Mr. Haniyeh had accepted an invitation from Jordan’s King Abdullah II to attend talks in Amman. A spokesman for Mr. Abbas was not available.

Tensions between the ruling Hamas faction and once-dominant Fatah flared after Mr. Abbas this month called for early elections, a move Hamas deemed a “coup.”

RUSSIA

Deal for Iran sanctions hailed as reasonable

MOSCOW — Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov yesterday hailed a U.N. Security Council resolution that imposed sanctions on Iran as a reasonable compromise that wouldn’t hurt Moscow’s commercial contacts with Tehran.

Mr. Lavrov said the resolution approved unanimously over the weekend was a compromise that also would allow diplomatic efforts to continue.

“The resolution fully reflects economic interests of Russia and other partners of Iran,” Mr. Lavrov said at a Cabinet session chaired by President Vladimir Putin, according to Russian news agencies.

ISRAEL

Government to ease West Bank barriers

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s Cabinet yesterday approved the removal of 27 Israeli roadblocks in the occupied West Bank, a move officials said was meant to bolster Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel says its checkpoints and unmanned roadblocks — usually piles of rubble on roads linking towns or villages in the West Bank — are meant to prevent militants from staging attacks, while Palestinians call them collective punishment.

In addition to the roadblock decision, Mr. Olmert’s Cabinet could authorize the release of some Palestinian prisoners later this week, officials said.

EGYPT

Teenager reported dead from bird flu

CAIRO — A 15-year-old Egyptian girl died of bird flu yesterday, the Egyptian Health Ministry said. The girl was admitted to a hospital on Wednesday after being diagnosed with the disease, according to the ministry.

Her death brings the number of human deaths from H5N1 in Egypt to nine and the number of remaining human cases to 17 since the virus surfaced in Egyptian poultry in February.

The girl belonged to the same family as a woman who died of bird flu on Sunday, hours after tests confirmed she and two other members of her extended family had been infected with the virus.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Top al Qaeda militant calls for more jihad

DUBAI — A man thought to be a top al Qaeda militant who escaped from a U.S. air base in Afghanistan last year said in a statement that the tide had turned against the West but urged Muslims to keep up their holy war.

A Web site often used by Islamists posted the statement from a man identified as Abu Yahya al-Libi in which he said Muslims should remain vigilant and not give up force in favor of dialogue.

“There is no way to reach what is required but through jihad (holy war). Leaving jihad causes humiliation, weakness and suffering, but carrying it out and excelling in it is the way,” according to the statement.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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