- The Washington Times - Monday, February 15, 2010

RUSSIA

No plan to scrap Iran missile deal

MOSCOW | Russia plans to honor a deal to deliver an advanced surface-to-air missile system to Iran, a senior Russian official said Sunday according to Interfax news agency.

Vladimir Nazarov, deputy secretary of the Russian Security Council, said there was no reason not to send Iran the S-300 missile system, in comments reported by the agency.

Russia has given vague details on progress in the contract, and angry Iranian officials blame the delay on growing pressure from the United States and Iran’s arch-foe, Israel.

Last week Tehran boasted it was creating its own air defense missile system, which would be better than the S-300. However, it also threatened legal action in November if Moscow failed to honor the $800 million deal, which involves five batteries of S-300PMU1 missiles.

IRAN

Opposition leader’s wife says son beaten

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates | The wife of one of Iran’s opposition leaders accused the nation’s supreme leader Sunday of allowing violence and abuses to crush opposition supporters, including the purported beating of her son during last week’s protests.

Fatameh Karroubi said her son Ali was savagely attacked inside a mosque by hard-line militiamen amid a massive security crackdown during events Thursday, marking the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

“They beat him up and insulted him along with other people arrested. This happened in a house of God,” she wrote in an open letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appearing on prominent pro-reform Web sites Rahesabz and Sahamnews.

The Web sites also posted photos purportedly showing bruises across Ali Karroubi’s back.

ISRAEL

Travel warning on Hezbollah threat

TEL AVIV | Israel’s government on Sunday warned its citizens to beware of possible attacks when they travel abroad, singling out threats by the Lebanese group Hezbollah.

Two years ago, a prominent Hezbollah commander, Imad Mughniyeh, was killed in an explosion in Syria. Hezbollah blamed Israel and pledged revenge.

The advisory issued Sunday tells Israelis to avoid most Islamic countries, reject tempting offers and unexpected gifts, turn down invitations to unexpected meetings and avoid routines.

The government issued the advisory with the approach of the Passover holiday, a heavy travel period.

INDIA

Islamists blamed for bakery bombing

PUNE | India said Sunday it would wait for the findings of an investigation into the weekend’s bakery bombing before responding to Hindu nationalists’ demands to cancel upcoming peace talks with Pakistan, amid suspicions Islamic militants plotted the attack.

The explosion Saturday, caused by a bomb left in an unattended bag at a venue popular with tourists, killed nine people and wounded 60. It was the first major terrorist attack in India since the 2008 Mumbai massacre when Pakistan-based militants ran amok in the country’s financial hub.

Security forces were immediately put on high alert at airports, train stations and markets across India.

The bombing came just a day after nuclear rivals India and Pakistan set a date for their first formal dialogue since the Mumbai attacks prompted New Delhi to suspend wide-ranging talks aimed at normalizing relations after six decades of hostility.

The blast ripped open the German Bakery in Pune, 125 miles southeast of Mumbai. The bakery is close to the Osho Ashram, a popular meditation retreat, and a Jewish center officials say were previously scouted by a terrorist suspect now detained in the U.S.

Two foreigners — one Iranian and an Italian — were among those killed in the blast. Twelve foreigners were wounded.

YEMEN

Helicopter crash kills 10 troops in north

SAN’A | A Yemeni military helicopter crashed Sunday killing at least 10 troops in the mountainous north, an official said as the government sought to implement a cease-fire with Shi’ite rebels in the area.

The helicopter went down at Kahlan mountain, east of the provincial capital Saada, scene of heavy fighting over the past six months between the rebels and the government forces before they reached a shaky truce Thursday.

Yemen’s military said Sunda the truce was holding in the north and that joint commissions representing the government and the rebels had been meeting to implement the cease-fire.

MYANMAR

Freed official calls for talks

YANGON | Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s deputy urged Myanmar’s ruling junta Sunday to engage the opposition in dialogue before elections this year, as he took his first steps outside as a free man in seven years.

Tin Oo, 83, vice chairman of Mrs. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, made the appeal as he prayed at Yangon’s famed Shwe Dagon pagoda after his release from house arrest late Saturday.

The veteran activist said, however, that his own release means nothing if Mrs. Suu Kyi, 64, a Nobel Peace laureate, and around 2,100 other political prisoners are still detained when the elections take place.

Tin Oo had been held since 2003, when he and Mrs. Suu Kyi were arrested after a pro-regime mob attacked their motorcade during a political tour, killing 70 people.

He was a former army general and defense minister who was forced into retirement in the 1970s after falling foul of the country’s military rulers. He was in trouble again in the 1990s because of his involvement with the opposition movement.

Tin Oo’s release comes with the United Nations human rights envoy for Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana, due to visit the military-ruled nation Monday to examine its progress.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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