- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 19, 2006

AFGHANISTAN

NATO air strikes kill civilians

ASHOGHO — NATO air strikes killed as many as 13 civilians yesterday in southern Afghanistan, residents said.

The air strikes hit three homes in the Zhari district of Kandahar province, killing nine civilians and wounding 11, Kandahar Gov. Asadullah Khalid said. Residents put the casualty toll at 13 killed and 15 wounded.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said the operation in Kandahar was thought to have caused “several” civilian casualties.

RUSSIA

Olmert fails to get reassurances on Iran

MOSCOW — Despite Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s stepped-up rhetoric over Iran’s nuclear program, Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to offer no concrete steps to calm Israeli fears.

“We are at a critical juncture, and the entire international community must join ranks to block Iran’s true intention of arming itself with nuclear weapons,” Mr. Olmert said after talks with Mr. Putin at the Kremlin yesterday.

“I leave this meeting with the sense that President Putin understands that danger.”

But Mr. Olmert’s declarations to Mr. Putin that Iran must be intimidated in order to prevent it from acquiring a nuclear bomb did not seem to steer Mr. Putin away from his opposition to international sanctions.

JAPAN

Lawmakers worship at Yasukuni Shrine

TOKYO — Dozens of Japanese lawmakers yesterday paid their respects at a war shrine vilified as a symbol of the country’s past militarism, amid concerns that Tokyo may build up its armed forces against the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear test.

Eighty-four parliament members attended the annual fall festival at Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, which honors executed war criminals among millions of war dead.

VENEZUELA

Spanish firm cancel smilitary plane sale

MADRID — A Spanish company has dropped a plan to sell 12 military-transport planes to Venezuela that was opposed by the United States, the Spanish foreign minister said yesterday.

EADS-Casa, an affiliate of a European aerospace consortium, said U.S. restrictions on including American-made technology in the planes made the deal unprofitable.

IRAQ

Kurds describe mass executions

BAGHDAD — Kurdish witnesses at deposed dictator Saddam Hussein’s genocide trial gave harrowing accounts yesterday of surviving killing fields, where guards executed hundreds of detainees at a time in sprays of gunfire.

One said he fell wounded into a ditch full of bodies. He said he climbed out and ran for his life past mounds in the desert, the mass graves of other victims in a 1987-88 military offensive against Iraq’s Kurds.

FRANCE

Tourists undeterred by rude natives

PARIS — France remained the world’s top tourist destination in 2006 despite an enduring reputation for giving visitors a distinctly frosty welcome.

Grumpy taxi drivers, stony-faced waiters and bad sign posting took the shine off the tourism industry’s achievement of catering to 76 million visitors last year.

“France is the No. 1 country in the world in terms of visitor numbers, but nearly the worst of all for a warm reception,” said Jean-Pierre Blatt, director of the Regional Committee for Tourism in Ile-de-France.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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