- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 3, 2007

IRAN

Sanctions effort heads to U.N.

The United States and five other world powers agreed to send the issue of Iran’s disputed nuclear program to their U.N. representatives, after failing to resolve differences, the State Department said yesterday.

Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns and political directors from China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany held discussions by phone and “discussions will now move to New York where our United Nations permanent representatives will take up work on this issue,” spokesman Kurtis Cooper said.

U.S. officials have expressed hope that U.N. ambassadors from the six countries could begin drafting a new resolution this week.

ETHIOPIA

Eritrea accused of kidnapping tourists

MEKELE — Ethiopian officials yesterday accused forces from archrival Eritrea of kidnapping five Britons and 13 Ethiopians who were touring a remote region near the African countries’ long-disputed border, then taking the group to a military camp in Eritrea.

The claims could not be independently verified. The group went missing Thursday while traveling in Ethiopia’s Afar region, a barren expanse of ancient salt mines and volcanoes 500 miles northeast of the capital, Addis Ababa.

Calls to Eritrea’s government spokesman went unanswered yesterday.

A separate group of seven French tourists also went missing Thursday but the head of the tour company that organized their trip said they were safe.

SAUDI ARABIA

Abdullah, Ahmadinejad vow to curb strife

RIYADH — Sunni and Shi’ite heavyweights Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed yesterday to fight the spread of sectarian strife that threatens to spill over from their neighbor Iraq, the Saudi foreign minister said.

Saudi King Abdullah held talks with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who was on his first official trip to Saudi Arabia. A Saudi official said earlier the Sunni Muslim kingdom would seek Shi’ite Iran’s help to ease sectarian tensions in Iraq erupting into full-blown civil war.

“The two parties have agreed to stop any attempt aimed at spreading sectarian strife in the region,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told reporters without elaborating.

INDONESIA

Landslides kill at least 40

JAKARTA — Landslides triggered by days of heavy rain killed at least 40 persons in eastern Indonesia yesterday, and nearly 30 more were thought to be buried under the mud, officials said.

Authorities on Flores island battled blocked roads to deliver emergency aid to affected districts and help dig for survivors, said Rustam Pakaya, the chief of the Health Department’s Crisis Center in the capital, Jakarta.

State news agency Antara reported landslides occurring in at least 15 villages or districts.

TAIWAN

U.S. missiles sought, China protests

TAIPEI — Taiwan, over the strong protests of China, is seeking to buy more than $400 million worth of missiles and parts from the United States to bolster its air defenses.

The purchase is aimed at modernizing Taiwan’s military and enhancing its ability to counter threats from China. The missiles would be used by Taiwan’s F-16 fighter jets. Taiwan announced in July that it is hoping to also buy 66 F-16 jets from Washington.

The proposed deals are opposed by China, which considers Taiwan to be a part of its sovereign territory.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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