Nuclear case declared closed
TEHRAN — Iran has “closed” the issue of international concerns over its nuclear program through its cooperation with the U.N. atomic watchdog, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday.
“Not one member of the International Atomic Energy Agency has cooperated as well as Iran,” Mr. Ahmadinejad told a Tehran press conference.
“So from our point of view, Iran’s nuclear case is closed. Iran is a nuclear nation and has the nuclear fuel cycle,” he said.
Chinese to head U.N. peace force
NEW YORK — The United Nations announced Monday the appointment of its first Chinese force commander for a U.N. peacekeeping mission. He will serve in the disputed Western Sahara territory.
Maj. Gen. Zhao Jingmin will be force commander for what is termed the U.N. Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, known by its French acronym MINURSO. He replaces Danish Gen. Kurt Mosgaard, who ended his tour of duty Monday.
Western Sahara is a former Spanish colony on the northwest African coast. Morocco annexed the territory after Madrid pulled out in 1975 but clashed with Polisario Front guerrillas seeking independence. A cease-fire was declared in 1991.
President brags on cooking skills
TEHRAN — Better known for his defiance on Iran’s nuclear program, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday revealed he was a handy cook who prepares “delicious” food and regrets not spending more time at home.
In a television interview aimed at showing his personal side, Mr. Ahmadinejad portrayed himself as a hardworking husband who only leaves his job in the small hours.
“Before [I became president], I used to do the grocery shopping. Now sometimes I help in the kitchen, and I know how to make all the Iranian food,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said. “What I make is delicious — ask everyone who has eaten it. I can make all the different kinds of soups and Iranian stews,” said the president.
Leading Arab paper banned
CAIRO — Saudi Arabia has banned the influential Arab newspaper Al Hayat from distribution in the kingdom, just days after it reported a Saudi man had served as a key figure for an al Qaeda front group in Iraq, journalists and diplomats said yesterday.
One of the country’s most influential journalists said the ban was a sharp retreat from growing press freedoms in Saudi Arabia.
Al Hayat’s Saudi edition did not appear on newsstands Monday and yesterday, several Arab diplomats told the Associated Press in telephone calls from Riyadh.
Refugee count tops 4 million
GENEVA — More than 4 million Iraqis have fled their homes because of sectarian violence, the largest population movement in the Middle East since Palestinians left the new state of Israel, the U.N. refugee agency said yesterday.
“An estimated 4.2 million Iraqis have been uprooted from their homes, with the monthly rate of displacement climbing to over 60,000 people compared to 50,000 previously,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis told journalists.
More than 2 million Iraqis are displaced within their own country, with about half being uprooted following the February 2006 Samarra bombings, seen as the catalyst for the latest wave of sectarian conflict, the UNHCR said.
Hamas closes private clinics
GAZA CITY — Hamas yesterday ordered the closure of four private Gaza clinics, in which staff were taking part in a public-sector slowdown to protest the firing of Fatah hospital officials by the Islamists.
“We have closed four clinics,” Khaled Radi, a spokesman for the Hamas health ministry, told Agence France-Presse. “We have always said that we will take measures against all doctors who participate in political strikes ,and we will continue to take measures against them.”
Doctors working in public hospitals in Gaza announced a strike two weeks ago under which they drastically cut their working hours, to protest Hamas’ firing senior officials in the territory’s largest hospital, Shiffa, who belong to the rival Fatah movement.
From wire dispatches and staff reports