- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Postwar support pledged to Lebanon

ABU DHABI — Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora won assurances of support yesterday from the oil-rich United Arab Emirates during a regional tour before a key Paris donors meeting.

President Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan stressed during a meeting that the UAE backs initiatives aimed at stabilizing Lebanon and is eager to assist reconstruction, the state Emirates News Agency reported. The UAE pledged in August to rebuild several schools and hospitals in southern Lebanon after earmarking $20 million in relief aid following the summer war between Israel and Hezbollah.

Mr. Siniora has visited Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain to seek support before the donors meeting. He arrived in gas-rich Qatar later yesterday, the official Qatar News Agency reported. He also hailed Qatar’s participation in a U.N. peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon. Qatar is the only Arab country to contribute troops to the force that polices a cease-fire between Hezbollah and Israel.


Satellite launch set at Kazakh base

CAIRO — Egypt will launch its first remote sensing satellite from a base in Kazakhstan, an official was quoted yesterday as saying in the state-owned Al-Ahram daily newspaper.

“We will soon complete the final stage for launching the first satellite for remote sensing and scientific research, Misr Sat 1,” said Ayman Desouqi of the National Authority for Remote Sensing. He did not specify the date but said the satellite would be launched from a base in Kazakhstan.

The Israeli daily Yediot Aharanot described the device as a “spy satellite” that is expected to include Israel in its orbital path. It said the 220-pound satellite was built in Ukraine and can take pictures from an orbital height of 410 miles that could yield accurate intelligence material.


Olmert faces probe of bank privatization

JERUSALEM — Israel’s chief prosecutor yesterday ordered a criminal probe of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on suspicions of abuse of influence in the privatization of the country’s No. 2 bank, the Justice Ministry said.

Mr. Olmert, who has been hounded by charges of corruption since before he took office last year, was informed of the decision yesterday afternoon. A senior official in his office said “the prime minister will fully cooperate with the investigation” but has no intention of stepping aside from his duties while it is under way.

Mr. Olmert is “very proud of the way the Bank Leumi sale was conducted” with the “fullest transparency,” the official said.

The probe will focus on suspicions that Mr. Olmert, acting finance minister in 2005 under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, tried to steer the sale of Bank Leumi toward his friend, Australian real estate baron Frank Lowey.

Weekly notes …

An Iranian court has dropped a death sentence against a teenager accused of killing a man who reputedly tried to rape her, the girl’s attorney said. Nazanin Fatehi was convicted and sentenced to death more than a year ago after she admitted stabbing one of three men who reputedly tried to rape her and a 16-year-old niece. Miss Fatehi was 17 at the time. “Five judges reviewed her case, and all admitted that what Fatehi did was only self-defense,” her attorney, Mohammed Mostafaei, said Monday. He said he expects the court to order Miss Fatehi to pay “blood money” to the man’s family. … A Turkish soldier and three militants from the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party were killed yesterday in a security operation near Diyarbakir in the country’s southeast, officials said. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, listed as a terrorist organization by Ankara, called a unilateral cease-fire on Oct. 1, saying it hoped to pave the way for a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish conflict.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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