- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 20, 2006


Court postpones blind activist’s trial

BEIJING — A court yesterday postponed a trial in the closely watched case of a blind Chinese activist who, his supporters say, has been harassed since he documented forced abortions, a defense attorney said.

A man who answered the phone at Shandong’s Yinan County Intermediate Court confirmed the trial was postponed, with no new date announced.

Chen Guangcheng’s family says he was charged with illegal assembly and intent to damage public property after trying to file a police report in March against four men who beat his cousin.

Lawyers who tried to go to Shandong, to help defend Mr. Chen have said they were beaten and forced to leave the area.


Formal response on nukes promised

TEHRAN — Iran yesterday promised to formally respond on Aug. 22 to a Western package of incentives aimed at resolving the standoff over its suspect nuclear program.

The Supreme National Security Council, Iran’s top security decision-making body, also threatened that the country will reconsider its nuclear policies if sanctions are imposed.

The council didn’t elaborate, but Iranian officials have suggested that Tehran may withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and stop cooperation with the U.N. inspectors.

Russia said the U.N. Security Council is in no rush to pressure Iran over its nuclear program, striking a more conciliatory tone than the U.S.


Funding ban urged on stem-cell research

BRUSSELS — Germany pressed its EU partners to ban European funding for embryonic stem-cell research, a day after President Bush vetoed a bill that would have expanded such work in the United States.

“The European Union science program should not be used to give financial incentives to kill embryos,” German Research Minister Annette Schavan wrote in a letter seen by Reuters yesterday. A meeting on EU science funding is scheduled for Monday.

Most EU governments, backed by the bloc’s executive and lawmakers, want to continue to allow public funding for potentially life-saving research projects.


Cuba’s Castro arrives at Mercosur summit

CORDOBA — Cuban leader Fidel Castro arrived yesterday at a Mercosur trade summit, a guest of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and incoming member Venezuela.

The Cuban leader, nearly 80, appeared in an olive military uniform at the door of a Cubana airliner. He arrived just hours after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who is attending the group’s meeting as a member for the first time.

With all five Mercosur presidents politically left of center, the political moment “could not be more favorable for Castro’s visit,” an Argentine diplomat said before the Cuban president’s arrival was confirmed. Cuba is not a Mercosur member, but Mr. Castro is expected to sign an agreement easing trade with the South American free-trade zone.


Khmer Rouge leader Ta Mok dies at 80

PHNOM PENH — Ta Mok, one of the former leaders of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge who was expected to go on trial for genocide, has died at age 80, his attorney said.

“Ta Mok passed away at 4:45 a.m. [5:45 p.m. EDT]. We feel very sad for his death, but what can we do,” attorney Benson Samay said, adding that he had slipped into unconsciousness before he died.

After years of infighting and bloody purges, Ta Mok, a military commander notorious for his brutality, became the communist Khmer Rouge’s last leader before the movement disintegrated in 1998.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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