- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 23, 2006

JORDAN

Zarqawi aide reportedly arrested

AMMAN — Jordanian security authorities have arrested a senior al Qaeda operative thought to be behind a spate of kidnappings and killings of foreigners and other acts of violence, the state news agency said yesterday.

The news agency quoted a security official as saying the details would be broadcast on state television today.

The official, who requested anonymity, said the man was an aide to Jordanian militant Abu Musab Zarqawi, the al Qaeda leader in Iraq, but no information was given on his nationality or where he was arrested.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Protestant rejects Sinn Fein nomination

BELFAST — The first attempt in years to revive a Catholic-Protestant administration for Northern Ireland failed yesterday when Protestant leader Ian Paisley rejected a nomination from his Sinn Fein enemies.

Gerry Adams, leader of the Sinn Fein party, nominated Mr. Paisley to become the “first minister” of the envisioned 12-member administration and Sinn Fein’s deputy leader, Martin McGuinness, to be “deputy first minister.”

Mr. Paisley immediately rejected the proposal, citing his party’s refusal to cooperate with Sinn Fein until it accepts Northern Ireland’s police force and encourages Catholic support for it, something Sinn Fein has refused for decades to do.

LEBANON

Hezbollah resistsIran nuke dispute

BEIRUT — Hezbollah, a close ally of Iran, would not jump to Tehran’s defense if the United States launched a strike against its nuclear program but would step in if the conflict spread to Lebanon, its deputy chief said yesterday.

Sheik Naim Kassem told Reuters that the guerrilla group, which was established by Iran in the early 1980s but has since grown into a political party with 14 seats in parliament, had no plans to become involved in regional battles.

“Hezbollah is not a tool of Iran; it is a Lebanese project that implements the demands of Lebanese,” Sheik Kassem said in the Hezbollah-controlled southern suburb of Beirut.

ITALY

Immigration laws to be relaxed

ROME — The fledgling center-left government announced plans yesterday to soften immigration policy as the lower house of parliament prepared to vote on Prime Minister Romano Prodi’s mandate.

Labor Minister Paolo Ferrero said he was looking for ways to grant temporary residency permits to masses of illegal workers in Italy, part of a broad policy shift that opponents said could trigger an alien “invasion.”

“It’s almost impossible to enter into Italy legally under the current law,” Mr. Ferrero told Reuters.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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