- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 27, 2009


EU says willing to take detainees

BRUSSELS | European Union leaders said Monday they were willing to take in prisoners being released from the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay - but stressed that American authorities must show that ex-inmates pose no security threat before they can be resettled.

Foreign ministers from the 27-nation bloc discussed the fate of up to 60 Guantanamo inmates who, if freed, cannot be returned to their homelands because they would face abuse, imprisonment or death. The prisoners come from Azerbaijan, Algeria, Afghanistan, Chad, China, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

The EU’s foreign and security chief, Javier Solana, said Europeans wanted to help on humanitarian grounds.

But he said no EU state could act until the new U.S. administration of President Obama gets its Guantanamo case files in order and can demonstrate that prisoners do not pose credible security risks.


Opposition group off EU terror list

BRUSSELS | The European Union decided Monday to remove an Iranian opposition group from the EU’s terrorist list and lift the restrictions on its funds, a move likely to further damage relations strained over Tehran’s nuclear program.

The decision by the 27-nation bloc’s foreign ministers means that as of Tuesday, the assets of the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, or PMOI, will be unfrozen. It is the first time an organization has been “de-listed” by the EU.

Shahin Gobadi, a spokesman for the group said $9 million had been frozen in France alone, with “tens of millions of dollars” worth of assets also locked away in other EU countries.

The group had been blacklisted as a terrorist organization by the EU since 2002, but waged a long legal battle in the EU’s court of justice to reverse that decision. It remains on the U.S. terrorist list.


Catholic bishops condemn Mugabe

PRETORIA | Southern African leaders must stop supporting Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe or accept complicity in a “passive genocide,” Catholic bishops from the region said Monday as the European Union increased sanctions on Mr. Mugabe and his supporters.

Protesters calling for Mr. Mugabe to step down converged near the presidential guesthouse, where Zimbabwe’s opposition leader and nine African heads of state including Mr. Mugabe were holding an emergency summit on Zimbabwe’s political crisis. Police fired rubber bullets at them as they tried to gather in front of South Africa’s capital building.

A police spokesman, Capt. Julia Claassen, said police fired upon what she called an illegal protest after some of the 1,500 protesters threw stones at officers and blocked roads.

Emily Wellman, a spokeswoman for one of the groups that organized the protest, said seven people were injured and an unknown number arrested.

The bishops said in a message to the heads of state that Mr. Mugabe must step down immediately and southern African officials “must stop supporting and giving credibility to the illegitimate Mugabe regime with immediate effect.”


Al-Maliki expects early U.S. pullout

BAGHDAD | Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Monday he believes the U.S. will withdraw its troops more quickly than the three-year timeline set down in a U.S.-Iraq security agreement. The U.S., meanwhile, suffered its biggest single loss of life in months, when two helicopters crashed, killing four service members.

An agreement negotiated under former President George W. Bush’s administration called for U.S. combat troops to withdraw from Baghdad and other cities by the end of June, with all American forces out of the country by the end of 2011.

President Obama campaigned on a promise to remove all combat troops within 16 months and has asked the Pentagon to plan for “a responsible military drawdown from Iraq.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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