- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 18, 2007

AUSTRALIA

‘Rocky’ detained for illegal imports

SYDNEY — Sylvester Stallone was detained for hours on arrival at Sydney Airport after officials found prohibited imports in his luggage and that of his entourage.

“That was just a misunderstanding,” Mr. Stallone told reporters yesterday at the Sydney premiere of the latest in his series of six boxing movies, “Rocky Balboa.”

Australian Customs Service national investigations manager Richard Janeczko did not say what the items were. Mr. Stallone emerged from the airport hours after his fellow passengers and signed autographs.

PAKISTAN

Suicide bomber attacks courtroom

QUETTA — A suicide bomber killed 15 persons — including a judge — after blowing himself up inside a courtroom in a southwestern Pakistani province that has seen intense civil conflict for years, police said.

It was not clear who was behind the attack at the District Courts complex in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province. At least 24 persons were wounded.

In Baluchistan province — made up of vast deserts — government forces have clashed with ethnic Baluch rebels in long-running unrest over political rights and royalties from rich natural gas fields.

IRAN

Assad, Ahmadinejad discuss Iraq, Lebanon

TEHRAN — Syrian President Bashar Assad discussed instability in Iraq and the crisis in Lebanon with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the start of a two-day visit to Iran yesterday, the official IRNA news agency said.

The visit is Mr. Assad’s second since Mr. Ahmadinejad took office in 2005. He will meet Iran’s supreme leader,Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, today.

The United States accuses Syria and non-Arab, Shi’ite Iran of fomenting tension in Iraq by allowing insurgents to cross into the country and providing them with financial help.

RUSSIA

Bird flu strikes near Moscow

MOSCOW — The deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu has been confirmed at one of three farms under investigation near Moscow, a veterinary official said yesterday in the first outbreak of the disease to threaten the Russian capital.

“We have just received the laboratory results,” Russian veterinary authority spokesman Alexei Alexeyenko said, “the precise subtype of the H5N1 virus [will be known] by Sunday evening.”

Potentially fatal to humans who come in contact with infected poultry, the H5N1 virus was recorded in southern Russia in late January, but the current outbreak is the first near Moscow, home to more than 10 million people.

QATAR

Foreign minister warns of U.S. dominance

DOHA — Qatar’s foreign minister warned an international forum on U.S.-Islamic dialogue yesterday against the “monopolization of power” by the United States, which has been pushing for greater democracy in the Middle East.

The forum is the fifth annual U.S.-Islamic World Forum and is organized by the Washington-based Brookings Institution think tank in partnership with Qatar’s foreign ministry.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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