- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 23, 2008


Vote on pact set for Wednesday

BAGHDAD | Iraq’s parliament will vote Wednesday on the proposed Iraq-U.S. security agreement that would allow American troops to stay in Iraq for three more years, the legislature’s speaker said.

Mahmoud al-Mashhadani made the announcement at the end of a six-hour debate on the agreement, in which at least two dozen lawmakers spoke. He said a vote could be held earlier if the country’s main political groups reached agreement on the deal earlier than Wednesday.

The vote was originally scheduled for Monday, but many lawmakers who spoke in Saturday’s session, including some from the ruling Shi’ite bloc, said they objected to the relatively short time that the government gave them to study the deal.


Troops to remove settlers from house

HEBRON, West Bank | Israel will remove Jewish settlers who are holed up in a disputed house in this Palestinian city in violation of a Supreme Court eviction order, Israel’s deputy defense minister said Saturday.

The occupants have said they won’t budge, and supporters have been flocking to a tense Hebron, where settlers have clashed with security forces and Palestinians in recent days.

Last week, Israel’s Supreme Court ordered the settlers in the four-story house to leave voluntarily within three days. They ignored the deadline, and it’s now up to Israeli security forces to evict the settlers.


Litvinenko suspect willing to go to UK

MOSCOW | The man widely regarded as the top suspect in the radiation killing of Alexander Litvinenko in London said Saturday he is ready to go to Britain to try to persuade authorities to step up the investigation, a Russian radio station reported.

Mr. Litvinenko was a dissident Russian security service officer who was granted asylum in Britain. He died two years ago Sunday in London from poisoning by the rare radioactive substance polonium-210.

British officials consider Andrei Lugovoi, another former security agent, as the main suspect and have charged him with murder. Russia has refused to extradite him.

The Web site of the Ekho Moskvi radio station on Saturday quoted Mr. Lugovoi as telling the station he is willing to go to Britain to demand prosecutors “get down to investigating” the case. He says he is innocent.


No damage from strong quake

JAKARTA, Indonesia | A powerful earthquake struck the waters off western Indonesia late Saturday, but it did not trigger a tsunami and there were no initial reports of injuries or damage.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the 6.8-magnitude quake hit 90 miles southwest of Bengkulu, a city on Sumatra island. It was centered about three miles beneath the ocean floor.


Man mauled seeking hug from panda

GUILIN | A Chinese college student who wanted to hug a panda bear climbed into its pen, but instead of getting a cuddle he was mauled by the animal, officials said.

The student ignored warning signs cautioning visitors to not climb over the panda cage fences at the Qixing Park Zoo and hopped into the bear’s pen Friday, the state-run Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.

The young man sustained injuries to his arms and legs from multiple bites and was said to be recovering after an operation.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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