- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 29, 2009


U.S. seeks talks with Iran on nukes

The United States has called for direct negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program.

The new U.S. ambassador at the United Nations, Susan Rice, said the new administration is making this issue a top diplomatic priority that includes dealing directly with Tehran. The position of the Obama presidency came after Mr. Obama vowed in his campaign to change policy in dealing with Iran.


Party seeks Khatami’s return

Partnership, the largest reformist party in Iran, said it was working to bring back to power former President Mohammad Khatami in the upcoming elections in June in order to deal with “reformist U.S. President Obama.”

The party said that re-electing Mr. Khatami at such a time was in the Islamic republic’s interests and criticized current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s performance as lacking the requirements needed to improve the country’s situation.


EU paves way for MEK to move to West

A new front for tension opened between the European Union (EU) and Iran after the EU removed the Iranian opposition Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) from its terrorist blacklist.

The decision would allow the MEK to expand its activities beyond Iraq, where its hands have been tied, and paves the way for its members to move freely to the West.


Blair: Gaza rebuilding requires unity

International peace Quartet envoy Tony Blair said Palestinian unity was necessary for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, warning that it is difficult to talk about rebuilding without this unity.

He told a news conference in Ramallah, after meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, that a new unity government should be based on a clear understanding that will lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state.


U.S. Embassy advises of threats

The U.S. Embassy in Yemen said it has received threats of possible attacks on its compound and urged U.S. citizens to take extra caution.

The embassy issued an advisory to Americans in Yemen, calling on them to avoid public places where Westerners gather and to maintain a low profile in the country.


Hamas gives terms for Shalit’s return

Ayman Taha, a Hamas representative taking part in the cease-fire negotiations in Cairo, revealed to al-Ahram that the talks revolved around two Israeli offers.

The first one entails an 18-month truce in return for a partial opening of the crossings into Gaza, in which Israel retains full control of these crossings. The second offer is to release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who is being held in Gaza, in return for a full opening of the crossings and freeing 1,000 Palestinian prisoners to be exclusively chosen by Israel.


Maliki to prepare for early withdrawal

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is also the commander in chief, plans to undertake security measures to face a possible early withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

An Iraqi government source told al-Sabah that despite an announcement by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that there will not be any substantial change in policy under President Obama’s administration, Mr. Maliki is expecting a U.S. troop withdrawal before the schedule entailed in the security pact signed between Baghdad and Washington under the Bush administration.

• Compiled by Sana Abdallah of the Middle East Times

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