- The Washington Times - Friday, February 24, 2006

IRAN

Russia, China aim for compromise

TEHRAN — Russia and China stepped up their efforts yesterday to persuade Iran to accept a compromise proposal over its nuclear program that may avert the threat of U.N. sanctions against the Islamic republic.

Sergei Kiriyenko, head of the Russian atomic energy agency Rosatom, and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Lu Guozeng arrived in Tehran for three days of talks to try to find a way to ease Western suspicions that Iran wants to make nuclear bombs.

Time is running out for Iran to avoid formal referral to the U.N. Security Council at a board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria, on March 6.

THAILAND

Prime minister calls snap vote

BANGKOK — Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra dissolved parliament yesterday and called a snap election, saying he would not bow to “mob rule” amid a wave of protests calling for him to resign.

Mr. Thaksin has faced rising calls to resign in recent weeks as criticism has grown over his family’s sale of shares in telecommunications giant Shin Corp.

Mr. Thaksin said he was forced by his opponents to call an early general election on April 2. Mr. Thaksin’s opponents are planning a major rally against the prime minister in Bangkok tomorrow.

BRITAIN

Arms case fails over FBI evidence

LONDON — A British man accused of plotting to sell arms to Colombian guerrillas walked free from court yesterday after the prosecution refused to disclose sensitive documents from the FBI.

London arms dealer Syed Bukhari, 46, had denied a charge of agreeing to obtain property for the purposes of terrorism. He had been held in custody since a July 2004 FBI sting operation.

The prosecution at London’s Old Bailey court said Mr. Bukhari had agreed with an FBI agent posing as an arms dealer to supply the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia with 200 surface-to-air missiles, rocket-propelled grenades and 900 AK-47 assault rifles.

GERMANY

Government: Spies aided U.S. in Iraq

BERLIN — The German government released a report that two German spies in Iraq provided the United States with intelligence but rejected reports it aided the U.S. bombing campaign during the 2003 invasion.

The 90-page report is part of a larger text given to a parliamentary oversight committee that has been investigating reports that Germany’s BND foreign intelligence agency helped the United States select sites to bomb during the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, despite official opposition to the war.

UNITED NATIONS

U.S. urged to accept rights panel draft

NEW YORK — The United States came under pressure from key human rights groups to accept a compromise proposal to replace the discredited U.N. Human Rights Commission with a new human rights council.

Ten advocacy groups sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Thursday urging the United States to support the proposal.

The letter was in response to comments from U.S. Ambassador John R. Bolton, who questioned whether the draft resolution would keep human rights abusers off the new council — a key U.S. goal — and raised the possibility of new negotiations.

BRITAIN

Cash from heist found in van

LONDON — Police investigating a robbery of up to $87.43 million from a security depot in southern England found a quantity of cash in a van in a hotel parking lot yesterday, close to an international rail terminal.

Police said they did not yet know how much money was in the van, found about 45 minutes’ drive from Tonbridge, where robbers posing as police officers kidnapped the manager of a security depot, his wife and his young son to carry out the heist Wednesday morning.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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