- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Pro-U.S. Arabs push Olmert-Abbas talks

AMMAN — Pro-U.S. Arab leaders have undertaken a diplomatic offensive to try to revive talks between Israel and moderate Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and head off Israeli threats to impose unilateral peace.

But analysts voiced skepticism about the room for maneuver for Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia in the face of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s drive to set the Jewish state’s final borders by 2010, with or without the agreement of the Palestinians.

Saudi King Abdullah is scheduled to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak today, ahead of a meeting Sunday of Mr. Mubarak and Mr. Olmert that could pave the way for a summit between Mr. Olmert and Mr. Abbas. Jordan’s King Abdullah II is to meet with the Israeli leader in mid-June after warning in a letter to President Bush last month of the “negative repercussions” of any unilateral move by Israel.


Clashes kill four in Kurdish southeast

DIYARBAKIR — Two soldiers and two Kurdish rebels were killed yesterday in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast, security officials said.

One of the soldiers and the two rebels, members of the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), were killed in a clash in the Cudi mountains in Sirnak province, which borders Iraq and Syria. The second soldier died in the same area when he stepped on a land mine.

Clashes between the army and the PKK in the countryside have increased significantly this year, and Kurdish militants have taken responsibility for a series of bomb attacks in urban centers.

The army has stepped up operations to stop rebel infiltrations from northern Iraq, where the PKK found refuge in 1999.


Haniyeh pledges government wages

GAZA CITY — Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh pledged yesterday to pay salaries within days to thousands of government employees who have not received wages since March as a result of an international funds freeze.

Mr. Haniyeh, in comments to his Hamas-led government, did not disclose the source of the funds. Palestinian banks have refused to transfer money to the Palestinian Authority, fearing U.S. sanctions.

“I would like to announce that the Ministry of Finance will begin to pay a full month’s wages to those earning a monthly salary of up to 1,500 shekels [$332]. The number of those employees is 40,000,” Mr. Haniyeh said.

He also promised to pay each of the other 125,000 government workers, who earn higher salaries, an advance of 1,500 shekels. Foreign donors have frozen payments to the Palestinian government, demanding that the militant group Hamas, which came to power after a January election, recognize Israel and renounce violence.

Weekly notes …

Foreign terrorists, led by fighters from Saudi Arabia, are behind an upsurge in attacks against British troops in Basra, Iraq, military sources told the London Daily Telegraph yesterday. British forces suffered their highest number of fatal attacks in May for any month since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. … Authorities have arrested 54 Baha’is in the city of Shiraz in southern Iran, the Baha’i International Community said today. It said the Baha’is were arrested Friday while teaching underprivileged children as part of a community-service program run by a local nongovernmental organization.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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