- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 26, 2006

CANADA

Sealers, protesters clash on ice floes

GULF OF ST. LAWRENCE — Sealers took to the thawing ice floes off the Atlantic Ocean yesterday, the first day of Canada’s contentious seal hunt, confronting animal rights activists who claim the annual cull is cruel.

Protesters attempting to disrupt the annual event were greeted with seal intestines pitched at them by angry hunters.

The fishermen in the isolated island communities of Quebec and Newfoundland say the hunt supplements their meager winter incomes, particularly since cod stocks have dwindled dramatically during the past decade.

The hunt brought $14.5 million in revenue last year, after some 325,000 seals were slaughtered. Fishermen sell their pelts, mostly for the fashion industry in Norway, Russia and China, as well as blubber for oil, earning about $60 per seal.

WEST BANK

Abbas hints at Hamas dismissal

RAMALLAH — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas issued a thinly disguised threat yesterday to bring down Hamas’ new government if it does not change its violent ways.

The tough talk came just two days before designated Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh is to present his proposed Cabinet to parliament for approval and three days before the Israelis are to hold elections.

Mr. Abbas wrote in a letter to Mr. Haniyeh: “I will exercise my mandate and authority where and when needed to protect the higher interests of the Palestinian people.” The president has the power to sack a prime minister and his government.

THAILAND

Protesters seek king’s intervention

BANGKOK — Tens of thousands rallied in Bangkok yesterday, begging their king to intervene in a last-ditch effort to force Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra from office.

Mr. Thaksin’s opponents, who accuse him of widespread corruption and abuse of power, have held almost daily street protests in recent weeks.

Protesters wore yellow headbands reading “Save the Nation,” and chanted “Thaksin, Get Out.”

AFGHANISTAN

Afghan, U.S. troopsbattle Taliban rebels

KANDAHAR — Afghan and U.S. troops backed up by American aircraft fought suspected Taliban rebels in southern Afghanistan yesterday, leaving one U.S. service member and an unknown number of militants dead, officials said.

A second U.S. service member and an Afghan soldier were wounded in the fighting in Helmand province’s Sangin district, a hotbed of insurgency and the booming drug trade, a U.S. military statement said.

American war planes dropped 11 guided bombs on about 20 militants taking part in the clash, the U.S. military said.

IRAN

President backs talks with U.S.

TEHRAN — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday he supported talks with the United States about Iraq, but was suspicious of U.S. motives.

“We essentially do not trust the Americans, but we will conditionally negotiate with them about Iraq while taking into account the interests of Iraqis and the world of Islam,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said, according to the official IRNA news agency.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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