- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 15, 2007

IRAN

President threatens retaliation against U.S.

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday threatened “severe” retaliation if the United States attacked his country, which is locked in a standoff with the West over its nuclear program.

“They realize that if they make such a mistake the retaliation of Iran would be severe and they will repent,” Mr. Ahmadinejad told a press conference in the United Arab Emirates, speaking through an interpreter.

The United States, which has a strong military presence in the Persian Gulf, accuses Iran of wanting to produce nuclear weapons and has sought tougher U.N. sanctions against Tehran. Iran says it wants only to generate electricity.

JAPAN

Panel OKs extension of forces in Iraq

TOKYO — A panel of Japanese lawmakers yesterday approved a two-year extension of the country’s air force mission in Iraq, brushing off criticism that Tokyo should distance itself from Washington’s increasingly unpopular war.

The approval was a further victory for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is trying to raise Japan’s military profile around the world. Earlier yesterday, the upper house of parliament passed guidelines for amending the pacifist constitution allowing the military to take on more prominent roles in future conflicts.

Japan backed the U.S.-led Iraq invasion and provided troops for a noncombat humanitarian mission in the southern city of Samawah beginning in 2004.

Tokyo withdrew its ground troops in July and has since expanded its Kuwait-based operations to airlift U.N. and coalition personnel and supplies into Baghdad.

TAIWAN

WHO rejects bid for membership

GENEVA — The World Health Organization rejected Taiwan’s bid for membership yesterday after Chinese officials accused the island of trying to strengthen its claim to sovereignty.

By a vote of 148-17, WHO approved a recommendation by the General Committee to strike discussion of full WHO membership for Taiwan off the agenda of the global health body’s annual meeting this week.

Taiwan tried for 10 years to gain observer status within WHO against the wishes of China, which regards the island as part of its territory.

RUSSIA

Development replaces Moscow landmarks

MOSCOW — Russian and foreign preservationists expressed alarm yesterday at the destruction of Moscow’s historic and architecturally significant buildings as the Russian capital undergoes massive development fueled by the country’s economic boom.

A report released yesterday titled “Moscow Heritage at the Crisis Point” detailed buildings destroyed or under threat. Developers are undertaking huge projects as Russia’s oil-driven economy soars and real-estate prices rival those of Tokyo and New York.

The most dramatic example is the Hotel Moskva, known worldwide as the building on the label of Stolichnaya vodka. The building has been razed and is being replaced by one that purportedly will replicate the original building’s facade.

IRELAND

Cheney positive after Mideast trip

SHANNON — Vice President Dick Cheney said yesterday that he generally got good responses from Arab allies in his appeal for more help in stabilizing Iraq.

“You don’t get to pick and choose,” the vice president told reporters aboard his plane as he returned from a weeklong tour of the Middle East, including an unannounced two-day visit to Iraq and stops in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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