- The Washington Times - Monday, April 16, 2007

WEST BANK

China, Switzerland drop Hamas boycott

RAMALLAH — China and Switzerland have informed Palestinian officials they will deal with the new unity government made up of the Fatah movement and the militant Hamas group, the information minister said yesterday.

Both nations have dealt with Hamas in the past, but the development appeared to reinforce a Palestinian effort to win recognition for their new government.

Special envoys from the two countries met recently with Palestinian Foreign Minister Ziad Abu Amr and informed him of their decision to deal with the unity government “without any discrimination between its members,” said Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti.

SOUTH KOREA

Rice aid put at risk over delay at reactor

SEOUL — South Korea may suspend rice shipments to North Korea to pressure the North to comply with its nuclear disarmament pledges after it missed a deadline to shut an atomic reactor.

“We can’t just ignore and do nothing if … North Korea doesn’t take initial steps” to disarm as agreed in February at six-nation nuclear talks, an unnamed South Korean official was quoted as saying yesterday.

The two Koreas were set to begin talks tomorrow in Pyongyang to discuss the North’s request for 400,000 tons of rice.

BRITAIN

Inquiries ordered into detainee crisis

LONDON — Britain will conduct an inquiry into the capture of 15 British sailors and marines by Iran last month and a separate review into the military’s decision to allow the crew to sell their stories to the media, the defense secretary said yesterday.

The review into the crisis itself will look into the sailors’ operation in the Persian Gulf and how the situation was handled, said Defense Secretary Des Browne.

The second inquiry, to be overseen by an independent figure with media experience, will examine the Defense Ministry decision to allow the captured sailors to sell their stories to the media after their release — a departure from normal military policy.

CHINA

Bank will challenge U.S. Treasury ruling

BEIJING — A Macao bank accused by the United States of being involved in North Korean money laundering said yesterday it had challenged the ruling against it as politically motivated and lacking evidence.

Banco Delta Asia said in a statement it has filed a challenge against a March U.S. Treasury ruling that barred U.S. banks from doing business with it.

“With this filing, the bank seeks a fair hearing on all the evidence, free from political intervention and the distraction of public diplomacy,” said a statement quoting bank counsel Joseph McLaughlin.

CANADA

Anglican leader plans to meet Americans

TORONTO — The spiritual leader of the world’s Anglicans said yesterday he has agreed to an urgent request for a meeting with U.S. church leaders as the Anglican fellowship nears a split over the Bible and sexuality.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, visiting Canada for a spiritual retreat with the Anglican bishops, said he would meet with U.S. Episcopal leaders in the fall.

“My aim is to try and keep people around the table for as long as possible on this, to understand one another,” Archbishop Williams said at a press conference at the Anglican Church of Canada headquarters.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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