- The Washington Times - Friday, March 16, 2007

IRAN

Ahmadinejad to defend nuke plan before U.N.

NEW YORK — The U.N. Security Council yesterday accepted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s request to defend his country’s nuclear program when the 15-nation body votes on arms and financial sanctions against Tehran.

The Iranian leader wants to address the council before members raise their hands on the resolution, but no date has been set for a vote, said South African U.N. Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, this month’s council president.

A draft resolution introduced in the council Wednesday would restrict Iran’s arms trade and freeze financial assets abroad of 28 individuals, groups and companies.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the United States “in the past issued visas for [Mr. Ahmadinejad] as well as his traveling party when they have gone to the U.N.”

AFGHANISTAN

U.S. troops accused of killing 5 police

KABUL — The Afghan government said yesterday that U.S.-led coalition forces mistakenly killed five Afghan police in a southern province. A coalition spokesman said Americans were not involved in the incident.

The police were manning a checkpoint in Gereshk district of Helmand province, Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary said.

NIGERIA

Vice president fights election exclusion

ABUJA — Vice President Atiku Abubakar filed a lawsuit yesterday seeking to overturn an electoral commission decision that bars him from running for president next month.

Mr. Abubakar was protesting his omission from a list of two dozen approved candidates for April 21 elections released Thursday.

The electoral commission gave no reason for excluding Mr. Abubakar, who is involved in a public feud with the president, but listed constitutional prohibitions on candidates indicted for crimes before a court or executive panel. Last year Mr. Abubakar was accused of corruption by an administrative panel set up by President Olusegun Obasanjo.

BENIN

Gunmen fire on president’s convoy

COTONOU — Gunmen opened fire on a convoy of Benin President Yayi Boni in an attack 10 days ahead of a general election that left at least four of his guards wounded, officials said yesterday.

Mr. Boni escaped unhurt from the incident late Thursday in the center of the small West African country.

At least five persons armed with Kalashnikovs and other automatic weapons opened fire as the president returned from a meeting in the village of Ouesse, half-way between his native Tchaourou and Parakou, 250 miles north of the main city, Cotonou.

PORTUGAL

Baghdad embassy to shut over security

LISBON — Portugal is closing its embassy in Baghdad because of security concerns, the foreign minister said yesterday.

The embassy’s offices and the ambassador’s residence both lie outside the heavily protected Green Zone, making travel between them dangerous, Foreign Minister Luis Amado said. The Portuguese ambassador to Iraq is already back in Lisbon.

INDIA

Protesters paralyze West Bengal

CALCUTTA — Thousands of activists burned buses and blocked roads in eastern India yesterday to protest the recent killing of 14 farmers opposed to government plans to build an industrial park on their land.

Nearly 800 people were arrested from all over the state of West Bengal, police said. Schools, colleges and businesses were closed across the state as part of a daylong protest strike, which halted long-distance train and bus services.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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