- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 27, 2009

CHINA

Hummer sale hits roadblock

BEIJING | China’s planning agency is likely to reject a Chinese company’s bid to acquire General Motors’ Hummer unit, in part because its gas-guzzling vehicles conflict with Beijing’s conservation goals, state radio reported.

The National Development and Reform Commission is also likely to say Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery, a maker of construction machinery, lacks the expertise to run Hummer, China National Radio said late Thursday. It cited no source.

Tengzhong said it has yet to reach a definitive agreement with GM, which the company said previously was required to make a formal request for government approval of the deal.

Tengzhong, based in the southwestern city of Chengdu, emerged as Hummer’s surprise buyer this month after GM sought court protection from its creditors. The companies said the sale still required regulatory approval and refused to disclose the price.

FRANCE

Martinique offered autonomy vote

FORT-DE-FRANCE | Inhabitants of the French Caribbean territory of Martinique will be offered the chance to vote on whether or not they want more autonomy from France, President Nicolas Sarkozy said Friday during a visit to the French Caribbean region.

But he said there was no question of Martinique taking full independence or splitting away from France.

Like the neighboring island of Guadeloupe, Martinique is one of four overseas “departements” that are full parts of France and the European Union.

PAKISTAN

Taliban claims Kashmir bombing

ISLAMABAD | The Taliban claimed responsibility for a suicide attack Friday on security forces in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, calling it a sign that recent military strikes targeting the group’s top leader have not hampered his ability to hit back.

Early Friday, a suicide bomber approached an army vehicle in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, and detonated his explosives, killing two soldiers and wounding 3 others.

It was the first time the intensifying conflict between Pakistani forces and the Taliban has reached Kashmir, the disputed Himalayan enclave that has long been a flash point for violence between Pakistan and archrival India. It may be an attempt to distract the military as it prepares for a major operation against Pakistani leader Baitullah Mehsud in his stronghold along the Afghan border.

VENEZUELA

Envoy returns to Washington

CARACAS | President Hugo Chavez’s ambassador returned to the United States on Friday as both nations move to repair strained diplomatic ties.

The countries’ decision to restore top-level diplomatic envoys is the “first step in normalizing relations,” Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez said in a statement upon his arrival in Washington.

U.S. Ambassador Patrick Duddy is expected to arrive in Caracas next week.

Relations between Venezuela and the U.S. soured during the Bush administration and reached a low point in September, when Mr. Chavez expelled Mr. Duddy and recalled Mr. Alvarez. He did so in solidarity with Bolivian President Evo Morales, who expelled the U.S. ambassador to his nation on accusations of inciting opposition violence.

Washington denied those charges and responded by expelling both nations’ ambassadors.

ZIMBABWE

Group reports abuse in diamond fields

JOHANNESBURG | Human Rights Watch said Friday that Zimbabwe’s armed forces have taken over diamond fields in the east and killed more than 200 people, forcing children to search for the precious gems and beating villagers who get in the way.

The New York-based organization said its call for a ban on diamonds from the region had received an endorsement from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Zimbabwe’s deputy mining minister, Murisi Zwizwai, has denied the allegations and said the presence of the military is to secure the area.

The report claims some of the income from the diamond fields is going to officials of President Robert Mugabe’s party, long accused of trampling on human rights and democracy in the southern African country.

SUDAN

Canadian terror suspect ends exile

KHARTOUM | A Canadian citizen accused by the United Nations of being linked to al Qaeda flew out of Sudan on Friday after a court order ended his six-year exile in Khartoum, his attorneys said.

Abousfian Abdelrazik, born in Sudan, has spent the past year taking refuge in the Canadian Embassy in Khartoum, fearing arrest over his suspected links to militants.

Canada’s government had until recently refused to offer assistance or issue a passport to Mr. Abdelrazik, 46, who is on a U.N. no-fly list naming him as an al Qaeda associate. But a Canadian Federal Court judge ruled on June 4 that Ottawa had to arrange Mr. Abdelrazik’s return.

Mr. Abdelrazik was born in Sudan and gained Canadian citizenship in 1995 after entering the country as a refugee. He returned to Sudan in 2003 to visit his sick mother and was arrested and held by Sudanese authorities on two occasions.

Mr. Abdelrazik was freed in 2006 and has been living in the Canadian Embassy in central Khartoum since late April 2008. He has denied being a militant.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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