- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 26, 2006


U.N. nuclear officials return to Tehran

TEHRAN — U.N. nuclear experts arrived in Iran yesterday after Tehran promised to respond to unanswered questions about work the U.N. fears could be linked to atomic weapons, Western diplomats said.

Separately, two diplomats said Tehran had begun operating 10 uranium enrichment centrifuges at its Natanz plant in central Iran, meaning the Islamic Republic has made good on its threats to resume small-scale production of enriched uranium.

On Thursday, a senior diplomat in Vienna told Reuters the Iranians had promised Olli Heinonen, the deputy director general of the Vienna, Austria-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), information about a shadowy uranium-processing project that Western intelligence has linked to possible atomic bomb work.


U.S. to continue humanitarian aid

RAMALLAH — The United States will continue sending humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people even after a Hamas government is formed, a senior U.S. envoy told Palestinian leaders during the first high-level meeting between the two sides since Hamas’ election victory.

State Department envoy David Welch said the U.S. continues “to be devoted to the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people, and we shall remain so.”

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Mr. Welch told Palestinian officials that U.S. aid would be redirected, but Mr. Welch did not specify how.


Art thieves thrive at Carnival

RIO DE JANEIRO — Taking advantage of the chaos of a Carnival parade, thieves slipped into an art museum and stole paintings valued at tens of millions of dollars, even stripping visitors of cell phones, digital cameras and wallets before fleeing.

The heist of the high-value art was a brash crime at a celebration known more for its wallet-stealing pickpockets.

The thieves overpowered security guards at the Chacara do Ceu museum and stole Pablo Picasso’s “The Dance,” Salvador Dali’s “The Two Balconies,” Henri Matisse’s “Luxembourg Garden” and Claude Monet’s “Marine.”


Palestinians name terms for recognition

JERUSALEM — The Palestinian prime minister-designate said Hamas is “ready to recognize” Israel if it gives the Palestinian people their full rights and a state in lands occupied since 1967, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

“If Israel declares that it will give the Palestinian people a state and give them back all their rights, then we are ready to recognize them,” Ismail Haniyeh told The Washington Post in an interview posted on its Web site yesterday.

Mr. Haniyeh also said Hamas was ready to consider talks with Israel if the Jewish state withdrew from the West Bank and East Jerusalem and recognized the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees who fled in the 1948 war and their descendants.


Communist intel chief sentenced to death

KABUL — An Afghan court yesterday found a communist-era intelligence chief guilty of ordering hundreds of killings and sentenced him to death.

Asadullah Sarwari headed the government’s feared intelligence department in 1978 under President Nur Mohammed Taraki, Afghanistan’s first communist ruler.

The court heard testimony yesterday from more than 20 witnesses who claimed to have lost relatives and saw video footage of documents, reportedly signed by Sarwari, in which he ordered killings.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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