- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 28, 2006

SUDAN

Egypt, Libya oppose U.N. force in Darfur

MISRATA, Libya — Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi yesterday rejected the replacement of an African Union force in Sudan’s Darfur region by U.N. peacekeepers, Egypt’s ambassador to Libya said.

The two leaders “stressed the importance of the African force’s presence in Darfur without any outside intervention,” Mohammad Rafaat al-Tahtawi told reporters after talks in Misrata.

The African Union Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa was scheduled to meet March 10 to discuss proposals to transfer responsibility for the Darfur force to the United Nations.

The AU has said it has no funds to operate in Darfur beyond March. Last weekend, President Omar Bashir warned that Darfur would become the “graveyard” of any foreign military contingent entering against Khartoum’s will.

IRAN

Ahmadinejad to speak on eve of IAEA talks

TEHRAN — Iran announced plans yesterday to hold a demonstration and a speech by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the eve of next week’s meeting of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog.

The gathering is to be held Sunday at the mausoleum of Iran’s revolutionary founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, just south of Tehran, and will feature a “human chain around a symbol of nuclear sites,” the Culture Ministry said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-nation board is to meet Monday in Vienna, Austria, in a session that could prompt action over Iran’s disputed nuclear program by the U.N. Security Council. Iran insists it wants only to generate electricity, though the technology it seeks to master can be used to make nuclear weapons.

Weekly notes …

A suspected senior al Qaeda operative who escaped from a U.S. air base in Afghanistan has vowed in a video statement to attack American targets everywhere. Kuwaiti Mehmood Ahmed Mohammed, alias Omar al-Faruq, alias Faruq al-Iraqi, was one of four al Qaeda members who escaped from Bagram air base in July. In his first comments on the escape, posted online yesterday, he said the stupidity of his guards aided the escape. … Egypt released three convicted British Islamists from jail yesterday, almost four years after they were arrested, an Interior Ministry source announced. Majid Nawaz, Ian Nisbett and Reza Pankhurst were being handed over to the British Embassy in Cairo for repatriation, the source added. The three Britons were arrested in April 2002 and found guilty of belonging to the banned Hizb al-Tahrir (Liberation Party), committed to the creation of a single Islamic state for the world’s Muslims.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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