- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 23, 2009

CUBA

U.S. to resume migration talks

The U.S. State Department said Friday it has offered to resume talks with Cuba about Cuban migration to the United States, a fresh sign of President Obama’s effort to engage the communist state.

The talks were last held in 2003 and were unilaterally suspended by the United States in 2004.

“We have offered to resume the talks,” State Department spokeswoman Heide Bronke said, saying the offer was made by U.S. diplomats at a meeting with Cuban diplomats in Washington at 4:30 p.m. Friday.

The migration talks, initiated during the Reagan administration, became more regular following accords reached in the mid-1990s that were intended to avoid an exodus of Cuban refugees to the United States.

The administration of former President George W. Bush suspended the talks in January 2004, saying Cuba had stymied them by refusing to discuss key issues such as giving exit permits to all Cubans who get U.S. visas.

GAZA STRIP

Israeli troops kill 2 militants

JERUSALEM | Israeli troops crossed into Gaza and killed two Palestinian militants who were planting a bomb along the border fence before dawn Friday, the Israeli military said.

Violence has largely abated along the tense frontier since Israel’s devastating offensive against Gaza’s Hamas rulers early this year, but sporadic border violence and rocket fire have continued.

Soldiers posted along the border spotted the two men planting a bomb near the fence and crossed into Gaza to engage them, the military said. The gunmen were killed in the ensuing firefight.

Palestinian medics retrieved the bodies of the two men, who were in military uniform, a Gaza Health Ministry official said. He gave their ages as 22 and 28. They belonged to the militant group Islamic Jihad, according to an announcement on the group’s Web site.

Hours later, militants detonated a bomb near an Israeli patrol jeep in a different section of the fence. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility.

MEXICO

Strong quake shakes buildings

MEXICO CITY | A strong earthquake swayed skyscrapers in Mexico City and rattled colonial buildings in neighboring Puebla state Friday, sending frightened people into the streets. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a magnitude of 5.7 and was centered 90 miles southeast of the capital. The Mexican seismological service measured it at 5.9.

Puebla is a popular tourist destination known for its gilded churches and ornate “Talavera” pottery. One of the country’s main Talavera producers, Uriarte, said the quake shook shelves but the merchandise emerged unscathed.

Mexico City has experienced some powerful earthquakes, including one in 1985 that killed as many as 10,000 people. Parts of Mexico City rest on the shaky soil of a former lake bed, which tends to magnify the effect of earthquakes.

MYANMAR

Suu Kyi pleads not guilty

YANGON | Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi pleaded not guilty Friday after a prison court formally charged the Nobel laureate for allowing an uninvited American intruder inside her home.

The court’s decision to proceed with the trial of Mrs. Suu Kyi, her two female housemates and the American man after five days of hearings had been widely expected, analysts said.

Mrs. Suu Kyi faces up to five years in jail if found guilty of breaking the terms of her house arrest by allowing the American, John Yettaw, to stay in her home for two days in early May.

NEW ZEALAND

‘Millionaires’ flee after bank error

WELLINGTON | A New Zealand couple who dropped out of sight after a bank error gave them a multimillion-dollar line of credit were being sought in Hong Kong, police said Friday.

An international search was under way for the man and his girlfriend, who disappeared two days after a bank mistakenly handed them a credit line of 10 million New Zealand dollars ($6.1 million) - 100 times their approved limit of NZ$100,000 ($61,000).

An account holder then tried to transfer about $4 million out of the account, but the bank, WestPac, was able to recover $1.7 million, the bank said. The statement did not specify how it got the money back.

A New Zealand woman told the TV3 network that the two being sought by police were her daughter, Kara Yang, and boyfriend Leo Gao, who were traveling with Ms. Yang’s 7-year-old daughter, Leena.

CANADA

Man sentenced in terror case

BRAMPTON, Ontario | A judge sentenced the first person convicted in a homegrown terrorism plot in Canada to a 2 1/2-year sentence Friday. With time already served, he walked free several hours later.

Superior Court Justice John Sproat in September found the 21-year-old guilty of knowingly participating in military exercises and firearms training as part of a thwarted 2006 plot to truck-bomb nuclear power plants and a building housing the country’s spy services. A publication ban prevents him from being named.

The young man is the first to be convicted and sentenced since the arrests of the “Toronto 18.” One other man in the group has pleaded guilty. Seven have had their charges either withdrawn or stayed. The trials of the nine others, including the purported ringleaders, have not started.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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