- The Washington Times - Friday, May 29, 2009

YEMEN

CIA official holds talks on al Qaeda

SAN’A | The CIA deputy director coordinated with Yemen’s president Thursday on fighting al Qaeda and also discussed the fate of about 100 Yemeni detainees locked up in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Stephen Kappes made an unannounced visit to the country to meet President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the southern city of Taiz, about 170 miles south of the capital San’a. Mr. Saleh’s office said they discussed security cooperation and combating terrorism.

The impoverished country on the tip of the Arabian peninsula, a U.S. partner in the fight against terrorism, has re-emerged as a potential base for al Qaeda. Two Saudi former Guantanamo detainees are thought to be leading Yemen’s branch of al Qaeda.

IRAN

Mosque explosion kills 15 in southeast

TEHRAN | An explosion in a mosque killed 15 people and wounded 80 Thursday in southeast Iran near the volatile Pakistani border, the state news agency said.

Iranian officials were investigating the cause of the explosion in the city of Zahedan, about 1,000 miles southeast of the capital, Tehran, said the Islamic Republic News Agency.

Ali Mohammad Azad, the governor of Sistan-Baluchistan province where Zahedan is the capital, said the explosion happened at 7:45 p.m.

The majority of Iran’s population is Shi’ite, but Sunnis also live in southeast Iran, a region near the Afghan and Pakistani borders that is plagued by lawlessness. It is a key crossing point for narcotics and often witnesses clashes between Iranian police and drug smugglers.

AFGHANISTAN

34 insurgents killed in east

KABUL | U.S.-led coalition troops attacked a suspected training camp for foreign fighters in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, and an Afghan official said 34 militants were killed, including 22 Arabs and Pakistanis. Among the dead were six who blew up their suicide vests during the battle, the U.S. coalition said.

The raid on the heavily guarded compound in Paktika province, which lies on Afghanistan’s porous border with Pakistan, serves as a reminder that the rugged region remains a breeding ground for Islamist fighters waging insurgencies in both countries.

BELARUS

Talks with Russia on loan fail

MINSK | Russia and Belarus failed to agree Thursday on the last $500 million installment of a $2 billion Russian loan that aimed to help its struggling neighbor avoid bankruptcy.

Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said his country offered to provide the final installment in Russian rubles instead of dollars, but Belarus refused.

Mr. Kudrin, who accompanied Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on a trip to the Belarusian capital, blasted Belarus’ planned economy and the stiff control of its currency as a “meaningless policy.” He also described Belarus as taking a “parasitic” attitude to Russia.

The unusually blunt criticism reflected growing tensions between the two neighbors and allies, which have been increasingly divided by economic and political arguments.

BRITAIN

3 more lawmakers quit over expenses

LONDON | Three British lawmakers who have faced criticism over their expense claims announced Thursday that they would leave Parliament, joining a mounting casualty list from a row over politicians’ perks.

Margaret Moran, from the ruling Labor Party, and Julie Kirkbride, an opposition Conservative member, said they would step down at the general election, due in the next year.

Conservative member of Parliament Christopher Fraser, who claimed $2,866 in expenses for trees and fencing, said he would leave at the next election but that his decision was linked to his wife’s health rather than his expense claims.

GEORGIA

Opposition protesters attack police

TBILISI | Protesters demanding Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili’s resignation beat several police officers and stabbed one with a knife Thursday, officials said.

Crowds of opposition demonstrators have held daily rallies in the Georgian capital since April 9, demanding that Mr. Saakash-vili step down. They hold him responsible for the nation’s crushing defeat in last year’s war with Russia and accuse him of authoritarian tendencies.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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