- The Washington Times - Monday, August 11, 2008


Nuclear inspectors denied access

DAMASCUS | Syria says U.N. nuclear inspectors cannot make a return visit to a suspect site bombed by Israel last year because its agreement with the U.N. agency allowed only one check.

The U.S. says that the remote site was a near-finished plutonium-producing reactor built with North Korean help and that Damascus is hiding linked facilities.

Syria denies the allegations.

A Foreign Ministry official said Saturday that Syria has told the International Atomic Energy Agency that it is ready to answer any questions. The official, who was not authorized to speak to the media, spoke on the condition of anonymity.


Hurricane swells eastern Pacific

MEXICO CITY | Hurricane Hernan has reached Category 3 strength far out to sea, becoming the first major hurricane of the eastern Pacific season.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says Hernan’s winds on Saturday reached nearly 120 mph, but the systems was expected to begin weakening shortly.

The center says the fifth eastern Pacific hurricane of the season poses no threat to land. It is located far off Mexico’s western coast, about 1,000 miles west-southwest of the tip of the Baja California peninsula.


Coup leader keeps president in jail

NOUAKCHOTT | The leader of Mauritania’s coup said the democratically elected president whom he deposed would not be released because of “security concerns,” a London-based Arabic newspaper reported Saturday.

President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, who was overthrown Wednesday, is in good health, junta leader Gen. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz was quoted as saying by the pan-Arab, Saudi-funded newspaper Asharq Awsat.

“Currently, we are not going to release the ousted president because of security concerns,” Gen. Aziz was quoted as saying. “The former president is with us, in good health.”

Gen. Aziz promised elections would be held but could not give a date.

Gen. Aziz engineered the coup after Mr. Abdallahi fired him and three other top military officials. The coup was nearly identical to the country’s last putsch in 2005, which ended a 20-year dictatorship and led to 2007 elections that returned power to civilian rule.


Poet to receive full state funeral

RAMALLAH | Mahmoud Darwish, whose poetry encapsulated the Palestinian cause, will get the equivalent of a state funeral in the West Bank on Tuesday - an honor only previously accorded to Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat.

Tributes for Mr. Darwish poured in on Sunday, a day after the 67-year-old writer died from complications after heart surgery in a U.S. hospital in Houston.

“He translated the pain of the Palestinians in a magical way. He made us cry and made us happy and shook our emotions,” said Egypt’s vernacular poet Ahmed Fouad Negm.

“Apart from being the poet of the Palestinian wound, which is hurting all Arabs and all honest people in the world, he is a master poet,” Mr. Negm told Reuters in Cairo.

Mr. Darwish’s funeral in Ramallah will be the first sponsored by the Palestinian Authority since Mr. Arafat died in 2004.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of national mourning. People held candlelit vigils on Saturday and Sunday in the darkened streets of Ramallah, where Mr. Darwish’s poems were read aloud and some mourners wept.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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