- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Sectarian leaders meet in Cairo

CAIRO — Representatives of Iraq’s ethnic and sectarian groups yesterday discussed ways to reconcile and end the escalating sectarian violence threatening to break up the country.

About 30 delegates representing Shi’ites, Sunnis, Kurds and other smaller minorities are participating in the discussions sponsored by the Cairo-based Arab League. Insurgents are not represented at the talks, which are intended to prepare for a national reconciliation conference in Baghdad next month.

The discussions in Cairo opened as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met with President Bush at the White House.

The Baghdad area recorded an average of 34 major bombings and shootings for the week ending July 13, the U.S. military said. That was up 40 percent from the daily average of 24 registered between June 14 and July 13.


Palestinians strike to protest Rice visit

RAMALLAH — Shopkeepers shut their doors in the West Bank city of Ramallah yesterday to protest the visit of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, accusing her of pro-Israel bias.

The commercial strike was called by several Palestinian factions, including the Fatah movement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the ruling Islamist militant group Hamas, angry at U.S. policy over Lebanon as well as Palestinian affairs.

A U.S. official said that despite the strike and a small demonstration in Ramallah, Miss Rice was made to feel welcome.


Hezbollah branch publishes newspaper

TEHRAN — The first edition of a newspaper owned by the Iranian version of Hezbollah appeared on newsstands yesterday with messages of support for its Lebanese cousins in their fight against Israel.

The first edition of Hezbollah carried no significant report on the fighting in Lebanon. The group also plans to start a television channel.

Earlier this month, Iran’s Hezbollah, which is one of the Iranian patrons of the Lebanese Hezbollah, said as many as 2,000 fighters were ready to travel to Lebanon if asked to do so by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran’s Hezbollah, or Party of God, was formed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The Lebanese version was formed in 1982 after Israel invaded Lebanon.


King Abdullah grants $1.5 billion to Lebanon

RIYADH — Saudi King Abdullah granted Lebanon’s central bank $1 billion to shore up its currency and $500 million in aid to help rebuild the country as Israel’s devastating onslaught continued, state television reported yesterday.

King Abdullah also will give $250 million in aid to the Palestinians to help rebuild their territories.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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