- The Washington Times - Friday, February 8, 2008

FRANCE

Chad president to pardon workers

PARIS — Chad’s president said yesterday he was “ready to pardon” six French aid workers convicted in December of trying to kidnap more than 100 children they said were orphans from Darfur.

President Idriss Deby told Europe-1 radio he could only issue a pardon after a French request for one, but that he was ready to pardon the six persons who were sentenced to eight years of hard labor by a Chadian court.

Chadian authorities arrested the members of the aid group Zoe’s Ark in October as they sought to send 103 children on a plane to France.

NEW ZEALAND

Woman stabs pilot in hijack attempt

WELLINGTON — A knife-wielding woman stabbed the pilot of a small commuter plane in New Zealand and threatened to blow it up in an apparent hijack attempt yesterday, police said.

The Eagle Air Jetstream aircraft, carrying seven passengers from the regional city of Blenheim to Christchurch on South Island, landed safely and the woman was arrested.

VATICAN

Cardinal defends freedom to pray

VATICAN CITY — The top Vatican cardinal in charge of relations with Jews yesterday denied a new prayer for their conversion was offensive and said Catholics had the right to pray as they wished.

Cardinal Walter Kasper spoke in an interview with a leading Italian newspaper a day after world Jewish leaders said the new prayer could set back interreligious dialogue by decades.

The Vatican on Tuesday revised a contested Latin prayer used by a traditionalist minority on Good Friday, removing a reference to Jewish “blindness” over Christ and deleting a phrase asking God to “remove the veil from their hearts.”

AUSTRALIA

Pictures released of harpooned whale

CANBERRA — Australia released grisly surveillance pictures of the slain carcasses of two whales being hauled aboard a ship, stepping up its campaign yesterday against Japanese whaling in Antarctic waters.

Environment Minister Peter Garrett said the “distressing” pictures would help build global opposition to whaling.

The images were taken by an Australian customs ship that has tracked the Japanese fleet in the Antarctic Ocean for the past month gathering evidence for a diplomatic and legal battle against whaling.

IRAQ

Angry lawmakers walk out in protest

BAGHDAD — Dozens of Iraqi legislators walked out of parliament yesterday to protest parts of a draft law that would lay out rules for provincial elections later this year, marking another potential setback for U.S.-backed proposals to ease Iraq’s sectarian rifts.

In parliament, nearly 90 members of the largest Shi’ite party, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, and its Kurdish allies stormed out of the session after lawmakers voted to let the prime minister fire provincial governors.

Radical Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, meanwhile, warned his fighters to stick with his cease-fire order after U.S. and Iraqi raids in Baghdad’s Sadr City, the main Shi’ite district.

LEBANON

Hariri accuses Syria, Iran of meddling

BEIRUT — Majority leader Saad Hariri criticized Syria and Iran yesterday for interfering in Lebanese politics and urged a massive turnout for a rally on the third anniversary of his father’s assassination.

“On February 14, we will all go down to Martyr’s Square to speak in one voice. … All attempts to intimidate us won’t succeed,” Mr. Hariri said in a fiery speech to a packed audience of party members and supporters.

Mr. Hariri’s father, former prime minister Rafik Hariri, was killed in a massive car bombing on Feb. 14, 2005, that led to the withdrawal of Syrian forces from the country after a 29-year presence.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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