- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2006

SWITZERLAND

Red Cross demands end to cluster bombs

GENEVA — The International Committee of the Red Cross yesterday called for an immediate halt to the use of cluster bombs in conflicts around the world and for countries to destroy their stockpiles.

The Swiss-based humanitarian body also said it would be calling a conference of specialists next year to discuss a global pact on the weapons — canisters that can contain up to 650 small pellet explosives that spread over a wide area.

Debate over the use of cluster bombs has intensified after Israel used them in its war against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon in July and August after the Islamist militia seized two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid.

UNITED NATIONS

U.S. defends stance on emissions caps

NAIROBI — The chief U.S. climate negotiator yesterday defended Washington’s stand against compulsory caps on global-warming emissions and said the Bush administration was unlikely to change its policy.

At the opening of a two-week U.N. treaty conference on climate change, Harlan Watson told reporters that the United States is doing better at restraining the growth of such gases voluntarily than some countries committed to reductions under the Kyoto Protocol.

Developing nations, the European Union, environmentalists and others are urging Washington to sign on to obligatory cuts after 2012 — when Kyoto expires — in emissions of heat-trapping gases that scientists blame for global warming.

CUBA

December return for Castro in doubt

HAVANA — Cuba’s foreign minister backed away yesterday from his prediction that Fidel Castro will return to power by early December, raising questions about the pace of the communist leader’s recovery from intestinal surgery.

Felipe Perez Roque also told the Associated Press that there was no guarantee that Mr. Castro would be well enough to attend the postponed celebration of his 80th birthday on Dec. 2. Mr. Castro turned 80 on Aug. 13 but announced delayed festivities when he told Cubans of his surgery in late July.

UNITED NATIONS

China’s candidate leads WHO vote

GENEVA — China’s candidate to head the World Health Organization (WHO) took pole position yesterday after a first round of voting for the top job in global health.

Margaret Chan, a former health director in Hong Kong who temporarily stood down as WHO’s head of communicable diseases to campaign, won the most votes as the executive board of the U.N. health agency cut the field from 11 to five, diplomats said.

GAZA

Bomber strikes near Israeli troops

GAZA — A Palestinian suicide bomber blew herself up near Israeli troops yesterday in a Gaza town where Israeli forces had killed two women acting as human shields for militants, residents said.

The Israeli army, confirming the suicide attack in Beit Hanoun, said one soldier was slightly wounded and evacuated to a hospital in the first such bombing against Israelis since April.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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