- The Washington Times - Monday, February 19, 2007

IRAN

Assad talks solidarity despite rumors of rift

TEHRAN — Syrian President Bashar Assad accused the “enemies” of Islamic countries of trying to sow discord, Iranian state television’s Web site reported yesterday after the Syrian leader ended a visit to Iran.

The visit comes amid friction over a joint Iranian-Saudi Arabian effort to clamp down on sectarian tensions in Iraq and violence in Lebanon. Syria has largely alienated many of its traditional Arab allies but has had close ties to Iran for years.

Arab observers have said there are also newfound tensions between majority Shi’ite Iran and majority Sunni Syria over their differing interests in Iraq.

ISRAEL

Police chief resigns over underworld ties

JERUSALEM — Israel’s police commander resigned yesterday after a government commission said he ignored ties between senior officers and underworld figures and failed to ensure a thorough investigation into the 1999 killing of a suspected crime boss.

The resignation of Cmdr. Moshe Karadi was the latest in a series of public scandals involving Israel’s top leadership — including rape suspicions against the president and questions about the prime minister’s role in a bank sale.

Yesterday, a commission said Cmdr. Karadi should lose his job for the incomplete investigation and for ignoring ties between senior police officers and top organized-crime figures.

THAILAND

3 killed, 50 hurt in coordinated blasts

BANGKOK — At least 28 bombs exploded yesterday in apparently coordinated attacks in parts of southern Thailand plagued by an Islamic insurgency, killing three persons and wounding more than 50, the military said.

The bombings targeted hotels, karaoke bars, power grids and commercial sites in the country’s southernmost provinces, the only parts of predominantly Buddhist Thailand with Muslim majorities.

Police said three Thais of Chinese descent were also fatally shot in Pattani province in what was thought to be the act of insurgents.

POLAND

Missile plan reply due in two weeks

WARSAW — Poland will reply within two weeks to a U.S. offer to build an anti-missile base on Polish soil, said Defense Minister Aleksander Szczyglo, confirming a weekend press report.

Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski is in favor of the anti-missile shield, saying it would bring Poland greater security. But public opinion is divided, and misgivings have emerged in his ruling coalition.

“We are now in the process of preparing a reply … and I think within two weeks, it will be relayed to the American government via diplomatic channels,” PAP news agency quoted Mr. Szczyglo as saying.

INDIA

Train fire kills at least 64

NEW DELHI — A train traveling to Pakistan caught fire early today in northern India, killing at least 64 persons, and officials said two suitcases filled with flammable material, which may have been explosive devices, were found at the scene.

V.N. Mathur, general manager of the Northern Railway, said one of the suitcases was found inside a burned train car and the other was on the railroad track.

The fire engulfed two cars of the Samjhauta Express, one of two train links between rivals India and Pakistan.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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