- The Washington Times - Friday, June 1, 2007

RUSSIA

Poisoning suspect blames British spies

MOSCOW — The Russian businessman whom Britain has named as a suspect in the death of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko said yesterday that he has evidence of British special services involvement in the poisoning death.

Andrei Lugovoi, himself a former KGB agent, said Mr. Litvinenko tried to recruit him to gather compromising materials about Russian President Vladimir Putin for MI6, Britain’s foreign intelligence agency. He said British security services were unhappy with Mr. Litvinenko for boasting of his contacts with senior MI6 officials and spilling secrets.

“It’s hard to get rid of the thought that Litvinenko was an agent who got out of the secret service’s control and was eliminated,” Mr. Lugovoi told a press conference. “Even if it was not done by the secret service itself, it was done under its control or connivance.”

SUDAN

Darfur rebels fire on AU peacekeepers

KHARTOUM — Darfur rebels who signed a peace deal with the Sudanese government opened fire on a convoy of African Union peacekeepers after a road accident, wounding three soldiers, officials said yesterday.

The incident underscores how precarious the situation remains in Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million chased from their homes since fighting broke out in 2003 between ethnic African rebels and the pro-government Janjaweed militia.

The incident occurred after a road accident involving an AU patrol and a convoy of former rebels from the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) near Labado in southern Darfur on Wednesday, the AU mission said. One SLM member was killed and nine were injured in the accident, the AU said.

KOSOVO

Independence plan rejected by Russia

NEW YORK — The United States and European nations introduced a revised U.N. resolution supporting independence for Kosovo under international supervision, but it was immediately rejected by Russia, which hinted it would veto the measure.

The new draft included several minor changes that sought to address Russia’s concerns about ensuring that Kosovo’s multiethnic character is preserved. But it did not include Russia’s main proposal for new protections for Kosovo’s minority Serbs, who want to remain part of Serbia.

“The introduction of this updated version of the draft has not changed anything as far as we are concerned,” said Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations.

ISRAEL

Saudi doctor restores Druze girl’s eyesight

JERUSALEM — A Saudi ophthalmologist yesterday operated on an Israeli Druze girl to restore her sight in a hospital in northern Israel, Channel 10 television station said.

Dr. Mohammed Anwar gave the girl a cornea transplant in an hourlong operation, using a new method he had developed. Dozens of Israeli medics watched on a screen in an adjacent room, the station said, adding that the operation was a complete success.

Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have diplomatic relations, and the doctor, in answer to a question from a watching Israeli medic, acknowledged he had “many difficulties” trying to enter the Jewish state.

LIBYA

Blair deal advances on AIDS cases

TRIPOLI — Families of Libyan children infected with AIDS said yesterday they had reached an agreement with outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair, which could save five Bulgarians and a Palestinian doctor from the death sentence and bring medical help to the sick infants.

Of the infected children, 56 have died.

A spokesman for the families and a director of the Qadhafi Foundation, which has been mediating, said a solution could be reached before the end of this month.

Mr. Blair visited Tripoli on Tuesday and met with a delegation of families.

AFGHANISTAN

U.S. soldiers escape helicopter crash

KABUL — Up to 40 U.S. soldiers streamed out of a CH-47 Chinook in an air assault on a Taliban position in southern Afghanistan shortly before the helicopter crashed, officials said yesterday. Five Americans, a Briton and a Canadian were killed.

The Chinook plunged late Wednesday, the first day of a NATO-Afghan operation to force Taliban fighters out of the northern part of Helmand province.

NATO said troops who went to the crash site were ambushed by enemy fighters, and the unit called in an air strike. The U.S. military said “a large number of insurgents” were killed.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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