- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 17, 2009

NORTH KOREA

U.S. to permit visit by senior official

The United States will allow a visit by a senior North Korean official this month, a source familiar with the matter said Friday, in a move analysts said could be a first step toward formal bilateral talks.

The source told Reuters news agency that the State Department had decided to grant a visa to Ri Gun, North Korea’s No. 2 official at talks on its nuclear programs, to meet with North Korea scholars and specialists in New York.

The source said there was a high probability that U.S. diplomat Sung Kim would meet informally with Mr. Ri during his visit. The nonprofit Korea Society in New York and the National Committee on American Foreign Policy have invited Mr. Ri to the United States to take part in an Oct. 30 meeting in New York with scholars, former government officials and analysts.

BRITAIN

Court orders release of torture details

LONDON | Seven secret paragraphs detailing the purported torture of a former Guantanamo detainee should be disclosed, a British High Court has ruled - a decision that could ignite fresh criticism of U.S. interrogation practices and raise prickly questions for the British government.

Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian who moved to Britain as a teenager, was arrested in 2002 in Pakistan for using a false passport. After his arrest, he was sent to Morocco, Afghanistan and then Guantanamo in 2004. He claims the United States and Britain were complicit in his torture in Pakistan and Morocco.

In their 2008 ruling on whether to release material relating to Mr. Mohamed’s treatment while in captivity, the judges ordered the disclosure of some intelligence documents but said they were forced to keep seven paragraphs of British-U.S. exchanges secret out of a British claim that national security could be harmed.

Lord Justice John Thomas and Justice David Lloyd Jones reversed their original ruling Friday by saying that the public interest in disclosing the seven paragraphs was “overwhelming” and the risk to national security was not “a serious one.”

Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Miliband promised an immediate appeal, which would delay the release of the material.

BRITAIN

Dutch lawmaker back after ban reversal

LONDON | Anti-Islamic Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders returned to Britain on Friday - eight months after being turned away by authorities at Heathrow Airport.

British authorities had warned Mr. Wilders in February he would not be welcome in the country, but he boarded a plane to London anyway and was sent back by British immigration officials under a blaze of publicity.

On Friday, Mr. Wilders returned after successfully suing the British government to overturn the ban on his visiting. “I hope the U.K. will never again send someone back just because they don’t agree with what they have to say,” he said.

FRANCE

Farmers torch hay on Champs-Elysees

PARIS | French farmers struggling with slumping grain prices blanketed the Champs-Elysees with bales of hay and set them ablaze Friday and blocked highways around the country as they demanded government help.

About 150 farmers blocked traffic and unloaded hay and tires onto the most famous shopping street in Paris. The protesters set the hay on fire but firefighters quickly extinguished the flames.

Grain farmers were staging nationwide protests to call attention to their debts and other difficulties that have mounted as food prices have fallen from record highs in 2007.

POLAND

U.S. says missile interceptor likely

WARSAW | Assistant Secretary of Defense Alexander Vershbow told Poland on Friday it could be one of the sites for interceptors envisaged under President Obama’s revised plans for missile defense in Europe.

Poland and the Czech Republic are still smarting from Mr. Obama’s decision to shelve a Bush-era plan to install elements of a missile shield on their territory to protect against possible long-range missile attacks by Iran.

Under the new project, Washington would first deploy sea-based interceptors and then in a second phase deploy land-based systems involving SM-3 interceptors targeting short and medium-range missiles. Mr. Vershbow said Poland could host one of two land-based SM-3 sites.

IRAQ

Most refugees go to U.S.

GENEVA | More than 30,000 Iraqis have moved to the United States under a resettlement program that began in 2007 while much smaller numbers have gone to other countries, the U.N. refugee agency said Friday.

The big U.S. intake began after Washington was heavily criticized for taking in too few Iraqi refugees.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has recommended to the participating countries the names of 82,500 Iraqis who should be moved, but so far only 33,117 have been able go to their new homelands, said spokesman Andrej Mahecic.

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