- The Washington Times - Friday, September 21, 2007

BOLIVIA

Parties to revive constitution effort

LA PAZ — Bolivia’s political parties agreed to revive the assembly working to rewrite the constitution, which had been stalled for weeks, Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera said yesterday.

The assembly, a key campaign promise of leftist President Evo Morales, has not met for more than a month after violent protests rocked the central city of Sucre, where it meets.

The deal calls for the creation of a special commission that will start sessions Monday to seek consensus on tough issues such as re-election of the president, land reform and more rights for the poor and Indian majority, supported by delegates from Mr. Morales’ Movement Toward Socialism party.

RUSSIA

Moscow lays claim to Arctic Ocean range

MOSCOW — Preliminary tests on soil samples gathered by a Russian scientific expedition indicate that a vast mountain range under the Arctic Ocean is part of Russia’s continental shelf, a government ministry said yesterday.

Russia’s Natural Resources Ministry said preliminary results on soil core samples gathered by the research ship Akademik Fyodorov earlier this year show that the 1,240-mile Lomonosov Ridge is part of Russia’s shelf.

The debate heated up last month when Russia sent two small submarines to plant a tiny national flag under the North Pole. Canada vowed to increase its icebreaker fleet and build two new military facilities in the Arctic, while Denmark sent a team of scientists to seek evidence that the ridge was attached to its territory of Greenland. A U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker also set off late last month for a research expedition.

LEBANON

Legislators firm on presidential vote

BEIRUT — Lebanese leaders pledged yesterday to press ahead with a divisive election for president, to be held in parliament in coming days, despite the car bombing assassination of an anti-Syrian lawmaker.

The powerful bombing Wednesday killed lawmaker Antoine Ghanem and six others and threatened to derail efforts to bring the country’s rival parties together to agree on a head of state before voting is set to begin next week.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora pledged that Lebanon would press ahead to pick a president. A Cabinet statement yesterday called on lawmakers to attend Tuesday’s session for the vote.

IRAN

American academic freed from prison

TEHRAN — Iran has released an Iranian-American academic from prison, but judiciary officials said he was not free to leave the country, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported yesterday.

Kian Tajbakhsh, a consultant with George Soros’ New York-based Open Society Institute, was detained in May on spying charges while visiting Iran. He was released Wednesday night.

Woodrow Wilson International Center scholar Haleh Esfandiari, another Iranian-American academic also detained in May on the same charges, was released on bail in August. She returned to the United States earlier this month.

AFGHANISTAN

U.N. renews NATO mandate

NEW YORK — The U.N. Security Council authorized NATO-led troops to stay in Afghanistan for another year Wednesday and gave the Japanese government support in its domestic dispute over refueling American and other ships in the Indian Ocean.

The vote was 14-0 with Russia abstaining. The International Security Assistance Force has close to 40,000 soldiers in Afghanistan to combat the country’s former Taliban rulers, toppled by U.S. and Afghan forces in 2001.

Ichiro Ozawa, the leader of Japan’s main opposition Democratic Party, has opposed extending Japan’s mission to refuel coalition ships in the Indian Ocean, in part because he says the activities lack direct U.N. permission.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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