- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 5, 2006

AFGHANISTAN

Dozens of Taliban killed in fighting

KABUL — An estimated 70 to 80 Taliban militants were killed by NATO soldiers in fighting in southern Afghanistan after police told military authorities where insurgents had gathered, an official said yesterday.

NATO soldiers suffered no casualties in the fighting in Helmand province that lasted into early Sunday, said Maj. Luke Knittig, the spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.

The battle was in a remote location, and there was no way to independently confirm NATO’s casualty figures.

RUSSIA

Uranium deal report on N. Korea rejected

MOSCOW — Russia’s atomic energy agency declined to comment yesterday on Japanese press reports that North Korea had offered Russia exclusive rights to its natural uranium deposits in exchange for support at six-way talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons.

“We were surprised to read the information in a Japanese newspaper. We don’t know where this information has come from and, therefore, will not comment on the rumors at this moment,” Rosatom spokesman Sergei Novikov told RIA news agency.

On Sunday, Japanese daily Tokyo Shimbun cited Russian government sources as saying that Moscow and Pyongyang had been in secret talks since 2002 over a plan for Russia to import the uranium and enrich it before selling it on as nuclear fuel to China and Vietnam.

CANADA

Russian accused of spying to go home

MONTREAL — Canada will deport a man it accused of being an elite Russian spy, after a court heard yesterday that the 45-year-old admitted he was not Canadian and had been in the country illegally.

A federal court judge found that a ministerial security certificate issued against a man claiming to be Paul William Hampel was reasonable, clearing the way for his deportation.

The man, whose real identity was kept secret, did not contest the security certificate, despite insisting the previous week that he was a Canadian-born citizen.

FIJI

Prime minister says coup under way

SUVA — Fiji’s elected leader said today a military takeover was under way in the South Pacific country as armed troops surrounded his house and other government buildings in a lockdown of the capital.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said he refused a request from Fiji’s besieged prime minister today for “military intervention” to end the coup. New Zealand called the coup an “outrage” and said it was cutting military ties with Fiji, the first international sanctions.

Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase said it was not clear who was in control of his tiny country. He said he had received information that troops would take him into custody sometime today, though he said that was unconfirmed.

DENMARK

Journalists acquitted in leaked-files case

COPENHAGEN — Three journalists at one of Denmark’s largest dailies were yesterday acquitted of publishing secret Danish reports in a landmark case that pitted freedom of the press against the need to safeguard state secrets.

Berlingske Tidende editor-in-chief Niels Lunde and journalists Michael Bjerre and Jesper Larsen faced fines or prison for a series of articles in 2004 based on leaked documents from the Danish Defense Intelligence Service that said there was no evidence Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

The court said the intelligence agency had the right to demand that threat-assessment documents be kept secret, but ruled in favor of the journalists anyway.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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