- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 20, 2006

WEST BANK

Referendum outcome uncertain, poll finds

RAMALLAH — Palestinians might not pass a statehood referendum called by President Mahmoud Abbas because many see the vote as a symbol of his power struggle with the Hamas government, a leading pollster said yesterday.

While 75 percent of Palestinians in a new survey said they support a manifesto for statehood that implicitly recognizes Israel, only 47 percent said they would vote in favor of the document if a referendum were held on it today. The survey by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research said 44 percent would vote against.

“The sympathy, when it comes to the referendum, is with the underdog, and in this case, that is Hamas,” said Khalil Shikaki, the director of the research center.

ITALY

Indictment is sought against U.S. soldier

ROME — Prosecutors yesterday requested the indictment on charges of murder and attempted murder of a U.S. soldier in the fatal shooting of an Italian intelligence agent at a checkpoint in Baghdad.

The fatal shooting of Nicola Calipari on March 4, 2005, angered Italians and made a national hero of Mr. Calipari.

Italy’s new, center-left government also insisted that it would not let the incident get in the way of good relations with the United States.

JAPAN

Koizumi to pull troops from Iraq

TOKYO — Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi announced his plan today to withdraw troops from Iraq at a ruling-party meeting, an official said, moving to end Japan’s largest military mission since World War II.

The official said Mr. Koizumi told a meeting of the Liberal Democratic Party that he would make a public announcement of the pullout later in the day.

Japan has about 600 troops in the city of Samawah in southern Iraq. Although the mission is strictly noncombat and humanitarian, the deployment broke new ground as a symbol of Tokyo’s more assertive military policy of recent years.

HAITI

Ex-minister released by new government

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Authorities released a former government minister who was jailed for more than two years on murder accusations, and they could soon free other high-profile prisoners who served under former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a prosecutor said yesterday.

Jocelerme Privert, Mr. Aristide’s interior minister, was released Friday after a prosecutor said there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

Mr. Privert said he was a victim of a political conspiracy by the interim government of former Prime Minister Gerard Latortue.

CHINA

Cat meat eatery comes under assault

BEIJING — Banner-wielding animal rights protesters swarmed a restaurant serving cat meat in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen and forced it to close, Xinhua news agency reported Sunday.

The 40 or so mainly female demonstrators entered the Fangji Cat Meatball restaurant and demanded that the owner free any live cats on the premises, Xinhua said.

The owner of the restaurant was quoted as saying he would no longer sell cat meat, but defended his trade by saying that eating cat in Guangdong province was a tradition.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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