- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Khamenei approves of U.S. talks on Iraq

TEHRAN — Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said yesterday that he approves of talks between U.S. and Iranian officials on Iraq, but warned that the United States must not try to bully Iran.

It was the first confirmation that the Ayatollah Khamenei, who holds final say on all state matters in Iran, is in favor of the talks. Hours earlier, President Bush spoke in favor of such a meeting, saying American officials would show Iran “what’s right or wrong in their activities inside of Iraq.”

Both the United States and Iran have said the talks will focus solely on stabilizing Iraq and not deal with the heated issue of Iran’s nuclear program. No time or place has been set for talks, though the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, who will head the U.S. side, has proposed holding them in Baghdad.


Arab voters rue political disunity

UMM EL FAHM — Though they make up one-fifth of Israel’s population, Israeli Arabs head into elections next week feeling that their votes count for little and disappointed that Arab parties haven’t banded together to get them a better deal.

As a result, turnout among Israel’s 600,000 eligible Arab voters could be thin. In the 2003 elections, 62 percent cast ballots. Among 31 parties fielding candidates in the March 28 parliamentary elections, four Arab parties are running.


Archaeologists find ancient Greek tomb

NICOSIA — A 2,500-year-old sarcophagus with vivid color illustrations from Homer’s epics has been discovered in western Cyprus, archaeologists report.

Construction workers found the limestone sarcophagus last week in a tomb near the village of Kouklia, in the coastal Paphos area. The tomb, which probably belonged to an ancient warrior, was looted in antiquity.

Weekly notes …

Saddam Hussein’s foreign minister was recruited by the CIA to spy on the regime, NBC’s “Nightly News” reported last night. Naji Sabri told the agency that Iraq possessed secret stocks of chemical weapons. If confirmed, the claim helps explain why President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair were so confident that Saddam was lying about weapons of mass destruction. As a senior member of Saddam’s inner circle and a friend of his son Qusay, Mr. Sabri would have seemed an excellent source. NBC said he was recruited in 2002 when he visited the United Nations in New York six months before the outbreak of war. … The Algerian government said yesterday its forces killed 17,000 Islamic rebels during the conflict of the 1990s, the first time it has issued a figure for anti-government casualties for that decade. The total was announced at a press conference for Algerian journalists by Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, who did not say who was responsible for the other 180,000 deaths, of civilians, resulting from the conflict.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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