- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 4, 2006

IRAN

Ahmadinejad agrees to consider incentives

TEHRAN — President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday Iran would consider incentives from six world powers to persuade it to abandon plans to make nuclear fuel, but insisted the crux of the package was still unacceptable.

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who travels to the Middle East today and tomorrow will soon deliver the proposals agreed by the U.S., Russian, British, German, French and Chinese foreign ministers in Vienna, Austria, on Thursday.

“We will not pass judgment on the proposals hastily,” Mr. Ahmadinejad told a crowd at the tomb of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, spiritual father of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, saying the package would receive due consideration.

Earlier, Mr. Ahmadinejad told U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan by phone that the crisis could be settled as long as the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency preserved Tehran’s right to use atomic energy.

SINGAPORE

Rumsfeld calls Iran top terrorist nation

SINGAPORE — U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld branded Iran the world’s leading terrorist nation yet hoped Tehran seriously would consider incentives from the West in exchange for suspending suspect nuclear activities.

Mr. Rumsfeld, attending an annual security conference, also took aim yesterday at Russia and China for allowing Iran’s involvement in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a group that he said has stated opposition to terrorism and extremists.

CZECH REPUBLIC

Opposition winshort of majority

PRAGUE — The center-right opposition Civic Democratic Party won the Czech parliamentary elections but will have to form a coalition government, according to preliminary results released by the government yesterday.

Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said he may question the result, claiming his governing Social Democratic Party had lost due to unfair campaigning by the opposition. He said he would consider requesting that the Supreme Court invalidate the results.

The Civic Democrats, led by Mirek Topolanek, received 35.37 percent of the votes cast, the state statistical office said. The Social Democrats finished second with 32.22 percent, according to the results from 99.96 percent of voting stations.

PAKISTAN

‘Da Vinci Code’ banned as blasphemy

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan yesterday banned theaters from showing “The Da Vinci Code” because it contained what officials called blasphemous material about Jesus.

Although the film has not been screened in any theater in mostly Muslim Pakistan, authorities decided to ban it out of respect for the feelings of the country’s minority Christians. Christians make up about 3 percent of Pakistan’s 150 million people.

The film version of Dan Brown’s murder-mystery novel is based around the premise that Jesus and one of his followers, Mary Magdalene, had children whose descendants are still alive.

VATICAN CITY

350,000 greet pope at rally

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI joined a cheering crowd of 350,000 people overflowing from St. Peter’s Square for a rally yesterday aimed at boosting the faith and encouraging efforts to spread the message of the Roman Catholic Church throughout the world.

The Vatican is seeking to energize its followers as the Catholic Church faces competition from dynamic, evangelical Protestant churches, particularly in Latin America and Africa.

Earlier Benedict received Tony Blair, his wife, Cherie, and their children in the British prime minister’s first private audience with the pope.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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