- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 24, 2006


Diplomat’s detention prompts U.S. apology

CARACAS — Venezuela’s foreign minister was detained at a New York airport yesterday, prompting an apology from the U.S. government and compounding already tense relations between the two countries.

In New York, State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said: “The United States government apologized to Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro and the Venezuelan government.”

Venezuelan television said Mr. Maduro was stopped for an hour and a half and stripped of his travel documents.

“This is a provocation from Mr. Devil,” Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told Venezuelan state television, using a name he called President Bush at the U.N. General Assembly this week. Mr. Maduro also had been attending the U.N. meeting.


Putin defends Airbus ownership

COMPIEGNE, France — France, Germany and Russia will form a working group to study Moscow’s role in EADS, the company that runs Airbus, Russia’s president said yesterday.

Vladimir Putin sought to ease mounting European concerns about Russia’s growing economic ambitions, including the recent purchase of a 5 percent stake of the French- and German-owned EADS by a Russian state-controlled bank.

“I can give you all assurances that it is not a sign of aggression,” Mr. Putin told reporters after a summit northwest of Paris with President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.


President re-elected; rivals charge fraud

SAN’A— President Ali Abdullah Saleh won another seven-year term yesterday after official election results were announced, with the opposition immediately slamming the vote as “illegal.”

Mr. Saleh garnered 77.17 percent of a total 5.37 million votes, with main rival and former oil minister Faisal Bin Shamlan winning 21.82 percent, the election commission announced on state-owned television.

“We reject this result, which is illegal, and came through a presidential order,” said Ali al-Sarari, spokesman for the main Common Forum grouping of five opposition parties headed by Mr. Shamlan.


Plutonium sought for more nukes

BEIJING — A North Korean official said his country will soon unload fuel rods from a nuclear reactor to make plutonium for weapons, seeking to pressure Washington into direct talks, a visiting U.S. scholar said yesterday.

Selig Harrison, back from a visit to North Korea, told a Beijing press conference he had met with Kim Kye-gwan, Pyongyang’s top negotiator at stalled six-party talks, on its nuclear ambitions.

“He did make clear that the purpose of unloading the fuel was to obtain more plutonium for nuclear weapons,” Mr. Harrison said, noting the material could make “enough plutonium for three to six nuclear weapons.”


Human error eyed in train crash probe

LATHEN — Investigators were trying to determine yesterday if controllers performed all the necessary safety checks before a high-speed magnetic train crashed into a maintenance vehicle, killing 23 persons, a prosecutor said yesterday.

Alexander Retemeyer, spokesman for the investigating prosecutors, said the probe into Friday’s crash was focusing on likely human error as the cause for the train to begin moving with the 60-ton service vehicle still on the tracks.

At least one American citizen was killed — martial-arts specialist Ernest Lieb, 66, of Muskegon, Mich., his wife, Jennifer, told the Associated Press. She said he was in his native Germany to conduct a seminar on karate.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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