- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 4, 2008

N. IRELAND

IRA said to be disappearing

BELFAST | The Irish Republican Army is fading away in Northern Ireland and poses no security threat to the British territory, international experts concluded Wednesday in another landmark for peacemaking.

The governments of Britain and Ireland heralded the findings of the Independent Monitoring Commission as the effective death of the IRA - and appealed to Protestant leaders to respond by deepening their cooperation with Catholics in the province’s 16-month-old partnership government. It has failed to meet for the past three months amid rising tensions and warnings that the coalition could unravel.

The commission concluded that the IRA’s seven-man command responsible for directing the group’s terrorism campaign for decades is “no longer operational or functional.”

THAILAND

Foreign minister quits as protests continue

BANGKOK | Thailand’s foreign minister has quit, local media reported on Wednesday, dealing another blow to Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej a day after he invoked emergency rule against protesters seeking to unseat him.

Tej Bunnag, a retired diplomat appointed in July, resigned after completing his mission to repair relations with Cambodia after a dispute over a temple that forced out his predecessor, a television channel and news Web sites said.

Mr. Tej once served in King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s principal private secretary’s office, and his departure could be interpreted as the revered monarch expressing his reservations about Mr. Samak’s administration.

TURKEY

President to watch soccer in Armenia

ANKARA | Turkish President Abdullah Gul will travel to Armenia to watch a soccer match between the countries’ national teams, his office said Wednesday, in a sign of a thaw in relations between the two historic foes.

Turkey and Armenia have no diplomatic relations because of Turkey’s opposition to Armenia’s occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.

The rivalry also stems from Armenia’s insistence that the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million ethnic Armenians around the time of World War I be recognized as genocide. Turkey says the killings occurred at a time of civil conflict and that the casualty figures are inflated.

UKRAINE

President calls for new coalition

KIEV - Ukraine’s president called for a new governing coalition Wednesday and threatened fresh elections, accusing his rival prime minister and opposition parties of attempting a “constitutional coup.”

Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in turn charged that President Viktor Yushchenko was seeking to undermine her ahead of a presidential vote and vowed that her government would continue working unhindered.

The events marked one of the bigger battles in a tug of war between Mr. Yushchenko and Ms. Tymoshenko, which has been under way since she returned as prime minister late last year. The 2004 Orange Revolution allies are now bitter rivals.

CYPRUS

Rival leaders begin new unity attempt

NICOSIA | Cypriot leaders launched talks on Wednesday seen as the best chance in decades to reunite their divided island and end a conflict threatening Turkey’s EU membership hopes.

Cypriot President Demetris Christofias, representing the Greek Cypriot community, and Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat, met in no man’s land dividing their capital Nicosia, in what diplomats and analysts described as the first opportunity for a breakthrough in years.

Cyprus’ partition is a headache for the European Union. Effectively represented in the bloc by its Greek Cypriots, the island has veto rights over the membership bid of Turkey, a key western ally in the Middle East.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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