- The Washington Times - Friday, June 13, 2008


House blast kills 7, escalates clashes

BEIT LAHIYA | An explosion flattened a house Thursday in the Gaza Strip, killing seven people. After blaming Israel and unleashing a barrage of rockets and mortar shells, Hamas suggested the blast was accidental, not an Israeli attack.

By then, Israel had carried out an air strike aimed at a Gaza rocket squad, killing a Palestinian. Two other Israeli military operations in Gaza killed five more militants.

Hamas said the dead included a 4-month-old girl and a senior aide to the Hamas interior minister. Five of the dead were militants, Hamas said. The owner of the house, Hamas area commander Ahmed Hamouda, was not there at the time of the explosion.

The violence threatened to derail Egyptian cease-fire efforts as they approached the finish line. A key Israeli envoy, Amos Gilad, was in Egypt trying to wrap up a deal, but there was no announcement of results.


Donors pledge $21 billion in aid

PARIS | World donors sought to bolster Afghanistan’s fragile leadership Thursday with pledges of more than $21 billion in aid as the need to help secure and feed the country overshadowed concerns about pervasive corruption.

The U.S. led the way, promising $10.2 billion. Other major donors included the Asian Development Bank, $1.3 billion; Britain, $1.2 billion; the World Bank, $1.1 billion; and the European Union, $775 million.

A similar donors’ conference in 2006 garnered pledges of $10.5 billion. The new pledges are in addition to $25 billion pledged by the international community since 2002. However, only $15 billion - 60 percent - of those previous pledges has been honored so far.


Offices planned in Taipei, Beijing

BEIJING | Taiwan and China agreed Thursday to set up permanent offices in each other’s territory for the first time in nearly six decades of hostility, one of the biggest trust-building steps they’ve taken in their political rivalry.

Coming on the first day of formal talks between the sides in a decade, the agreement lends strong momentum toward efforts to build confidence and spur cooperation between the two sides, which divided amid civil war in 1949 and whose relationship has veered between strained to outright hostile.


Official to visit U.S. over beef dispute

SEOUL | South Korean Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon said Thursday he would travel to the United States to seek restrictions on American beef shipped to his country in a bid to soothe anti-government protesters.

But the organizers of the demonstrations rejected the plan, saying they would continue to protest to demand a complete renegotiation of the agreement to resume imports of U.S. beef.

Mr. Kim said he would try to get Washington to approve measures under which the beef industry would voluntarily agree not to ship meat from cattle older than 30 months, which are thought to be more susceptible to mad cow disease.


Citizens vote on EU treaty

DUBLIN | Ireland’s citizens voted Thursday on whether to accept or reject the European Union’s new reform treaty, a painstakingly negotiated pact that would be damaged or destroyed by an Irish “No.”

The Lisbon Treaty seeks to reshape EU institutions and powers to cope with the bloc’s near-doubling in size over the past four years from 15 to 27 nations with 495 million people.

The Irish result is expected Friday, no exit polls are planned, and recent opinion polls have rated the outcome too close to call.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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