- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 15, 2009

BRITAIN

Brown pledges more Afghanistan troops

LONDON | British Prime Minister Gordon Brown pledged Wednesday to send more troops to Afghanistan, but only if NATO and the Afghan government do more to help fight the Taliban.

Mr. Brown said his government would increase British troop levels to 9,500 - an increase of about 500 - on the condition that Afghan President Hamid Karzai reduce corruption and improve his government’s performance. Mr. Brown also pledged to send troops only if he can provide them with the proper equipment, and if NATO allies increase their contributions to the war effort.

Military experts said Mr. Brown wants to show British support for the war as the United States debates an increase in its Afghan troop levels and is unlikely to call off the deployment.

Mr. Brown also said Britain will send $16 million in aid to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

TURKEY

Presidents pursue soccer diplomacy

BURSA | Turkey defeated longtime foe Armenia on a soccer field Wednesday - an event that had little significance in the world of sports, but meant a lot in the arena of international politics.

Armenian President Serge Sarkisian arrived in Turkey to attend the World Cup qualifier after a dinner hosted by Turkish President Abdullah Gul in Bursa, a former Ottoman imperial capital. Mr. Gul attended an initial game in Armenia in a good-will gesture last year, kicking off a round of “football diplomacy” that led to the signing last weekend of an agreement to establish diplomatic ties and open their border within two months.

Before the game, Mr. Gul and Mr. Sarkisian congratulated each other for taking bold steps toward a reconciliation that could have wider benefits for the Caucasus region, said two Turkish diplomats who were at the meeting. “We’re not writing history, we’re making history,” they quoted Mr. Gul as saying.

ISRAEL

Official protests Turkish TV series

JERUSALEM | Israel’s foreign minister has ordered ministry officials to summon Turkey’s ambassador in Israel and protest to him over a Turkish TV series that reportedly portrays Israeli soldiers murdering innocent children.

It is the latest twist in worsening relations between the two Mediterranean countries, which have traditionally had close defense ties.

A ministry statement issued Wednesday night quoted Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman as saying that the program screened by Turkish state TV constituted incitement against Israel “at the most grave level.”

SOUTH KOREA

North ‘regrets’ causing flood

SEOUL | North Korea offered a rare apology Wednesday for unleashing dam water that caused floods downstream blamed for six South Korean deaths, and promised to alert Seoul to such measures in the future, an official said.

The release of dam water into the Imjin River last month without advance notice triggered floods that swept away six South Koreans who were camping and fishing. Seoul demanded an apology, but Pyongyang said at the time only that it “urgently” had to release the water because the dam’s level was too high and that it would warn Seoul of similar releases in the future.

At 80-minute talks on Wednesday suggested by South Korea and convened in the North Korean border town of Kaesong, the North expressed its regret, Unification Ministry spokesman Lee Jong-joo said.

MYANMAR

American faces trial for fraud

YANGON | A Myanmar-born American jailed for purportedly plotting to incite unrest in the military-ruled country was brought before a court Wednesday on charges that carry a sentence of up to 14 years, his attorney said.

Kyaw Zaw Lwin was charged with fraud and forgery, but not with inciting unrest, of which he was earlier accused, said his attorney, Nyan Win. The fraud and forgery charges each carry a prison term of seven years.

A hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 23. Authorities arrested the U.S. citizen, also referred to as Nyi Nyi Aung, on arrival at Yangon airport on Sept. 3. According to dissident groups, he is a resident of Maryland.

BRITAIN

Mussolini paid well as British agent

LONDON | A historian says Benito Mussolini was well-paid as a British agent during World War I.

The Guardian newspaper reported Wednesday that Peter Martland of Cambridge University discovered that Mussolini was paid 100 pounds a week by Britain in 1917 - equal to about $9,600 today.

The late Samuel Hoare, in charge of British agents in Rome at that time, revealed in his memoirs 55 years ago that Mussolini was a paid agent. The salary detail also was in historian Christopher Andrew’s newly published history of the British intelligence agency MI5, to which Mr. Martland contributed.

In 1917, the future Italian dictator was editor of the Il Popolo d’Italia newspaper, which campaigned to keep Italy on the Allied side in the war.

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