- The Washington Times - Monday, April 14, 2008


White House calls boycott a ‘cop-out’

A boycott of Olympic ceremonies by world leaders over China’s crackdown in Tibet would be an evasion of responsibility and less effective than quiet diplomacy, the U.S. national security adviser said yesterday.

The remarks by White House adviser Stephen J. Hadley come as a challenge to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has said she will not attend the opening ceremony of this year’s Beijing Olympics, and to those calling for President Bush and other leaders to do the same.

“I think unfortunately a lot of countries say ‘well, if we say we are not going to the opening ceremonies, we’ve checked the box on Tibet’ — that’s a cop-out,” Mr. Hadley said on “Fox News Sunday.”


1,300 soldiers, policemen fired

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s government moved yesterday to restore discipline among security forces, firing more than 1,300 soldiers and policemen who deserted during recent fighting against Shi’ite militias in Basra.

At the same time, Iraq’s Cabinet ratcheted up the pressure on anti-American Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr by approving draft legislation barring political parties with militias from participating in upcoming provincial elections.

Sheik al-Sadr, who heads the country’s biggest militia, the Mahdi Army, has been under intense pressure from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, also a Shi’ite, to disband his militia or face political isolation.


Harare announces partial recount

HARARE — Authorities said yesterday they would recount the votes from nearly two dozen parliamentary races as Zimbabwe’s ruling party sought to overturn election results that cost it control of the legislature for the first time in the nation’s history.

As Zimbabwe’s election crisis headed into a third week, southern African leaders held an emergency summit and called for the swift verification of the results in the presence of all parties.

The summit declaration fell far short of opposition calls for neighboring leaders to pressure President Robert Mugabe to step down after 28 years in power.


President names rival prime minister

NAIROBI — President Mwai Kibaki named opposition leader Raila Odinga as prime minister yesterday, implementing a long-awaited power-sharing deal aimed at resolving a political crisis that left more than 1,000 people dead.

The deal — signed more than a month ago — marks the first time Kenya will have both a president and a prime minister.

The working relationship between Mr. Kibaki and Mr. Odinga, which has been frosty in the past, will determine how long the coalition lasts.


Officials call blast at mosque accidental

TEHRAN — Iranian officials yesterday ruled out an attack as the cause of an explosion that killed 11 people in the southern city of Shiraz, saying it was an accident that was likely caused by leftover ammunition.

The explosion ripped through a mosque packed with hundreds of worshippers late Saturday as a cleric delivered his weekly speech against extremist Wahhabi beliefs and the outlawed Baha’i faith, the semiofficial Fars news agency said.

Shiraz is a major draw for foreign tourists because of the ruins of nearby Persepolis, the capital of ancient Persia.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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