- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 14, 2008


King’s visit starts new chapter

Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Monday became the first Arab head of state to visit Iraq since the collapse in 2003 of Saddam Hussein’s regime, which Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said constitutes the start of a new chapter in relations between the two countries.

Sources close to the meeting said an agreement was reached to increase Iraqi government subsidies on oil exported to Jordan, whereby $22 will be deducted per barrel, up from the current $18 discount.


Hamas blames Egypt for tunnel deaths

The Palestinian Hamas movement held Egypt responsible for the deaths of three Palestinians who were killed by a tunnel that collapsed and for the deaths of five others in similar circumstances on Aug. 1.

Hamas said the Egyptian authorities used water, gas and explosives to close a web of tunnels between Gaza and Egypt, accusing Cairo of taking part in the Israeli blockade on the strip by keeping the only border crossing with Egypt closed.


Syria seeks European role in peace talks

Syrian President Bashar Assad said in a meeting with European Parliament chief Hans-Gert Poettering in Damascus that Europe should assume a more important role in the Middle East.

He added that achieving peace and security in the region requires seriousness from all sides.


Mass of ice falls from sky

In a rare cosmic happening, a mass of ice the size of a soccer ball fell from the sky and hit the ground in a village in Petra, leaving a small crater.

The man who witnessed the drop said he heard a loud noise similar to the ruffle of pigeon wings before it hit the ground, breaking the mass into pieces that he put in the freezer to hand over to scientific authorities to examine.


Israel threatens to stop arms flow

Israel has threatened to stop the flow of arms from Syria to the Lebanese Hezbollah group, especially advanced anti-aircraft weapons that could shoot down Israeli aircraft, which violate Lebanese airspace every day.

Sources said the security Cabinet has decided that Israel will no longer accept having advanced weapons and land-to-land missiles enter Lebanon and decided to move against it.


Al Jazeera says it violated charter

The Qatar-based Al Jazeera news channel said that broadcasting the celebrations of the release of Lebanese prisoner Samir Kuntar from Israeli jails was a violation of the channel’s ethics charter.

It said in a statement that its editorial council concluded this was a serious violation and will conduct a review to take the necessary action.


Egypt rights group finds police torture

The Egyptian Human Rights Organization said in its annual report that 93 Egyptian citizens died from torture in police stations from 2000 to 2007, including 14 deaths just in 2007.

The organization revealed 226 torture cases in the seven years, 40 of them last year, up 10 cases from 2006.


Petraeus pays visit to Lebanon

U.S. Central Commander Gen. David H. Petraeus, leading a military delegation, paid a surprise visit to Lebanon just ahead of new security appointments in the country, including new army and intelligence chiefs.

Sources said the Americans told Lebanese officials that they were pursuing gradual U.S. military aid of $380 million to Lebanon that President Bush had announced two years ago, which includes spare parts, training and ammunition, but no significant weapons for the army.

• Compiled by Sana Abdallah of the Middle East Times in Amman, Jordan.

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