- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 3, 2009

IRAN

IAEA head to visit Tehran for inspections

VIENNA | The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, heads to Iran Saturday to pin down an Iranian pledge, made at talks with big powers on Thursday, to open a newly revealed uranium enrichment site to inspections.

Iran also agreed “in principle” to ship out most of its low-enriched uranium for reprocessing in Russia and France. It would then be returned to power a Tehran reactor that makes medical isotopes for cancer care.

A European diplomatic source said Iran would be pushed at the next meeting to address a demand that it freeze any expansion of enrichment capacity.

“Yesterday’s talks were clearly a first step, but others must follow,” German government spokesman Andreas Peschke told a news conference in Berlin.

In an early warning of problems ahead, a senior Iranian official denied Western accounts that Tehran had agreed to send out 80 percent of its enriched uranium stockpile.

“We have not agreed on any amount or any numbers,” he said.

HONDURAS

U.S. GOP lawmakers visit interim president

TEGUCIGALPA | Four U.S. Republican lawmakers met with Honduras’ interim president on Friday in a challenge to Washington’s condemnation of the coup that brought him to power.

South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, the leader of the delegation, said before the trip that even calling President Manuel Zelaya’s overthrow a coup is “ill-informed and baseless.”

Mr. DeMint and three congressmen - Aaron Schock and Peter Roskam of Illinois and Doug Lamborn of Colorado - smiled for photographs in a book-lined office of the stately presidential palace with interim President Roberto Micheletti.

They were not meeting with Mr. Zelaya, who remained holed up with dozens of supporters in the Brazilian Embassy after sneaking back into Honduras.

Nations around the globe have condemned Mr. Zelaya’s June 28 ouster and many, including the United States and the European Union, have suspended aid to Honduras. Washington has also revoked the U.S. visas of interim leaders.

Republicans argue the actions were a legitimate reaction to Mr. Zelaya’s attempt to hold a constitutional referendum that critics believed was an attempt to undo a prohibition on a second term.

PHILIPPINES

Arroyo declares ‘state of calamity’

MANILA | Filipinos braced Friday to be whipped by powerful winds and pelted with rain from a second typhoon in eight days, fleeing by the tens of thousands from low-lying areas and suspending cleanup operations in the flooded capital.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared a nationwide “state of calamity” and ordered mass evacuations of six provinces in the path of Typhoon Parma, which was expected to hit the main island of Luzon midafternoon Saturday.

Parma threatened to expand more than a week of destruction in the Asia-Pacific region that has claimed more than 1,500 lives so far: an earthquake Wednesday in Indonesia; a tsunami Tuesday in the Samoan islands; and Typhoon Ketsana across Southeast Asia.

Cedric Daep, a top disaster official in the Philippines’ Albay province, said officials there had evacuated almost 50,000 people to shelters on higher ground.

Police and the military were helping people to leave flood- or landslide-prone areas across the north and east, where heavy rain fell on Friday.

Parts of the capital, Manila, were still awash from the worst floods in 40 years, caused by Ketsana on Sept. 26. Almost 300 people were killed and more than 2 million had swamped homes.

In Quezon City, where muddy brown water was still chest-deep, residents turned from cleaning up after Ketsana to trying to secure their belongings from the risk of more flooding.

“We do not know what to do or where we can go,” said resident Bebang De Los Santos. “We don’t have a way out, and this is the only place that is safe, but we don’t have any shelter.”

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