- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 3, 2008

NORTH KOREA

U.S. wants deal in writing

TOKYO | The top U.S. negotiator in talks to rid North Korea of nuclear weapons said Tuesday that Pyongyang must agree to a verification of its disarmament activities and that the deal must be put in writing.

North Korea agreed last year to disable its nuclear reactor in exchange for aid. But negotiations have since stalled after the Stalinist state denied it had agreed to allow inspectors to take samples from its nuclear complex to verify past nuclear activities.

The United States and other negotiating partners, however, have said the disarmament-for-aid pact hinges on the ability to confirm that the North has fully disclosed the extent of its atomic programs.



Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said Tuesday he wants to see the a list of measures clearly stated in a written agreement.

“Whether that takes one document, two documents, three documents, we don’t know. The important point is to make it clear, so there are no misunderstandings,” Mr. Hill told reporters as he arrived in Tokyo.

Mr. Hill spoke Tuesday with his Japanese counterpart, Akitaka Saiki, who said the envoys expected “a difficult phase” at the next round of international disarmament talks, scheduled for Monday in Beijing. Mr. Hill plans to hold talks Wednesday with Mr. Saiki and their South Korean counterpart, Kim Sook, before heading to Singapore to meet with North Korean officials.

NORTH KOREA

Leader said to visit Pyongyang zoo

SEOUL | North Korean leader Kim Jong-il went to the Pyongyang zoo and visited the tigers, bears and aquarium, state-run media said Tuesday, the latest in a spate of reports depicting Mr. Kim as fit three months after his reported stroke.

During the visit, Mr. Kim praised the reconstruction of the Central Zoo at the foot of Mount Taesong, calling it a treasure of the communist nation, the Korean Central News Agency said from the capital, Pyongyang.

He noted that the zoo houses a variety of animals - some rare - sent as gifts from around the world, and called on zookeepers to make sure to care for them, said the report, monitored in Seoul. Mr. Kim, 66, is believed to have suffered a stroke in August, but North Korea has steadfastly denied he was ever ill.

ITALY

Terrorism suspects held near Milan

MILAN | Two Moroccan factory workers living in the Milan suburbs were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of plotting to carry out bomb attacks on the outskirts of Italy’s financial capital.

Rachid Ilhami, 31, and Abdelkader Ghafir, 42, both married with children, had frequented an Islamic cultural center in the town of Macherio, where Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi owns a home.

Possible targets included the parking lots of a bar and a supermarket, a police barracks and an immigration office, according to police, who had been investigating the pair since March 2007.

BRITAIN

Muslim cleric sent back to jail

LONDON | Radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada — once described as Osama bin Laden’s ambassador in Europe — was ordered jailed Tuesday by a British judge because of concern he was preparing to abscond.

Abu Qatada had been released in June under strict bail conditions that allowed him to leave his home for no more than two hours a day.

Judge John Mitting, heading a panel of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, ordered Abu Qatada be sent back to jail and held under immigration laws.

GERMANY

U.S. soldier seeks asylum

BERLIN | A U.S. Army soldier says he is seeking asylum in Germany nearly a year-and-a-half after deserting his unit because he objects to the war in Iraq.

Spc. Andre Shepherd says he deserted his unit in April 2007 after returning from a six-month deployment in Iraq.

The 31-year-old from Cleveland said Tuesday that he has been staying with friends in southern Germany and supporting himself working odd jobs and hopes the German government will approve his request for asylum because of its opposition to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

The U.S. military confirmed that Spc. Shepherd had deserted.

LUXEMBOURG

Euthanasia stand could cost duke

Luxembourg’s government plans to strip Grand Duke Henri of his power to sanction laws after he signaled he would not sign a bill legalizing euthanasia.

Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who rushed back from an economic summit in Brussels, said his government would seek a rewording of the constitution.

Luxembourg is a constitutional monarchy in which the grand duke holds executive power. Bills become law only with his signature.

Luxembourg’s parliament backed a law in February to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide, which would add the Grand Duchy to a small group of countries that allow the terminally ill to end their lives.

BRITAIN

Brazilian’s killing ruled not unlawful

LONDON | Jurors weighing evidence in a public inquest into the shooting death of a Brazilian man mistaken for a terrorist cannot find that he was unlawfully killed, a judge said Tuesday.

The man’s family immediately asked the High Court to review that directive.

Former High Court Judge Michael Wright, presiding at a coroner’s inquest, told jurors that the evidence doesn’t justify an unlawful-killing verdict in the July 2005 death of Jean Charles de Menezes, 27.

AFGHANISTAN

U.S. soldiers charged in abuse

KABUL | Two U.S. soldiers serving in Afghanistan have been charged with the abuse of Afghan detainees, the U.S military said Tuesday.

Capt. Roger T. Hill and 1st Sgt. Tommy L. Scott, both of the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, have been formally charged with detainee mistreatment and dereliction of duty for failing to report detainee mistreatment, the U.S. military said.

The soldiers have been charged in an Article 32 investigation, the military equivalent of a civilian grand jury hearing, for an incident that is said to have occurred in the east of the country this year.

JORDAN

Man sentenced in ‘honor’ killing

AMMAN | A Jordanian man was sentenced to seven years in prison for killing his 22-year-old niece suspected of having a premarital affair, a judiciary official said Tuesday.

The man shot the woman six times in the head two weeks after her wedding in August last year. The court handed down the unnamed 42-year-old uncle a 15-year jail sentence, but reduced it after the woman’s family dropped charges, the official said.

In such cases in Jordan, if family members drop charges against those who carry out the crime, a court usually commutes or reduces sentences.

Five other men, including the woman’s father and brothers, who have been charged with complicity, were acquitted by the court for lack of evidence.

On Sunday, a 22-year-old man received a similar sentence for killing his 16-year-old married sister after she visited a female friend without the knowledge of her family.

EGYPT

Cleric hits Hamas bar on pilgrims

CAIRO | Egypt’s leading cleric, Sheik Mohammed Tantawi, has condemned the blocking of Muslim pilgrims as an “abominable crime” after the Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas prevented the faithful from leaving the Gaza Strip over the past four days.

“Whoever prevents [a Muslim from pilgrimage] is committing an abominable crime,” state-run Middle East News Agency quoted the state-appointed head of the Islamic Al-Azhar University as saying Tuesday.

Egypt’s government had said it would open its Rafah border crossing with Gaza starting Saturday to allow 3,000 Palestinians to embark on the hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

But Hamas blocked pilgrims who had obtained Saudi visas through the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority in the Israeli-occupied West Bank that does not recognize Hamas after it violently took over Gaza last year.

The hajj is one of the five tenets of Sunni Islam, which each devout Muslim who has the means must fulfill at least once in their life.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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