- The Washington Times - Monday, June 12, 2006

IRAN

Reaction still mixed on Western package

TEHRAN — Iran said yesterday that it accepted some parts of a Western offer aimed at getting Tehran to drop its nuclear program, but it rejected others while calling the central point ambiguous.

In its most specific comments yet on the incentive package, Iran said the key issue of uranium enrichment needed clarification.

Top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said Iran would reject the package outright if Western powers threatened the Islamic republic with sanctions in the nuclear standoff.

VENEZUELA

Chavez seeks apology from Peru’s Garcia

CARACAS — Venezuela will not restore diplomatic ties with Peru until President-elect Alan Garcia apologizes for insulting remarks he made during his presidential campaign, President Hugo Chavez said yesterday.

Venezuela and Peru withdrew their respective ambassadors in May in a diplomatic spat sparked by Peruvian charges that Mr. Chavez was interfering in a presidential runoff eventually won by Mr. Garcia.

“The only way Venezuela could restore relations with the new government of Peru is that the president-elect of Peru offer the necessary explanation and apologies to the people of Venezuela,” Mr. Chavez said.

SOMALIA

Islamic militia bars World Cup viewing

MOGADISHU — Islamic militiamen who have seized control of Somalia’s capital fired guns into the air and cut electricity to makeshift cinemas to prevent people from watching the World Cup, witnesses said.

The Islamic Courts Union broke up gatherings to watch the soccer matches Saturday, witnesses said. A strict interpretation of Islamic law often bans Western films and television as immoral.

“As soon as the Islamists took over the security of our city, we thought we would get freedom. But now they have been preventing us from watching the World Cup,” said Adam Hashi-Ali, a teenager in Mogadishu.

AFGHANISTAN

Government to arm local tribesmen

KABUL — President Hamid Karzai said yesterday that his government will recruit local tribesmen to fight the biggest increase in Taliban violence in years.

Speaking to a group of tribal elders from eastern Afghanistan, Mr. Karzai said he did not want to form militias that could clash with rival tribes. “We just want to strengthen the districts to safeguard them from terrorist attack,” he said.

Although they would not speak for attribution because of the sensitivity of the topic, Western diplomats briefed on the plan said they worried the plan could fuel factional fighting by giving weapons to forces loyal to warlords with long histories of factional disputes.

NEPAL

King is stripped of legislative roles

KATMANDU — Nepal’s once all-powerful King Gyanendra has lost his last legislative roles, three weeks after parliament stripped him of control of the army and forced him to pay taxes.

The state assembly, reinstated by the king in April, approved new guidelines late Saturday that no longer require the king to open or end parliamentary sessions or announce government policy. This will be done by the prime minister.

“He is now a ceremonial king,” said Narayan Man Bijukchhe, a deputy of the Nepal Workers’ and Peasants’ Party. “He will now be above daily political debate.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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