- - Sunday, May 29, 2011


Syria pledges to cooperate with nuclear reactor probe

In a major turnaround, Syria is pledging full cooperation with U.N. attempts to probe strong evidence that it secretly built a reactor that could have been used to make nuclear arms, according to a confidential document shared with the Associated Press on Sunday.

If Syria fulfills its promise, the move would end three years of stonewalling by Damascus of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Since 2008, the agency has tried in vain to follow up on strong evidence that a target bombed in 2007 by Israeli warplanes was a nearly built nuclear reactor that would have produced plutonium once active.

Syria’s sudden readiness to cooperate seems to be an attempt at derailing U.S.-led attempts to have Damascus referred to the U.N. Security Council amid already strong international pressure on the Syrian leadership to end its crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.


Karzai cuts short trip after killing of top cops

KABUL | Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday called the deaths of his two senior police generals in a Taliban attack “a great loss” and cut short his trip to Turkmenistan.

Gen. Mohammed Daoud Daoud, the police commander for nine northern Afghan provinces, and Shah Jahan Noori, the provincial police chief of Takhar, were killed in a suicide bomb attack inside the office of the governor on Saturday.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing that also left two German soldiers dead.

Mr. Karzai, who was on the second day of a four-day trip to Ashgabat, the capital of neighboring Turkmenistan, returned to Kabul “to be with his people on this hard day,” his spokesman said at a news conference in Kabul.


Government praises Senate support for sale of F-16s

TAIPEI | Taiwan said Sunday it welcomed a push by nearly half the U.S. Senate for the sale of dozens of F-16 fighters to the island in an arms deal Taipei said would help its dealings with China.

In a letter to President Obama last week, 45 out of 100 senators urged the administration to approve the sale of 66 F-16C/Ds to Taiwan as the fast-expanding Chinese forces tip the military balance in the region, the Foreign Ministry said.

“We’re pleased to see the bipartisan move in the U.S. Senate,” Foreign Ministry spokesman James Chang said.

“The arms sale will help Taiwan boost its self-defense capabilities, thus giving it more leverage while engaging the Chinese mainland.”


Iranian diplomat faces expulsion for spying

CAIRO | Egypt will expel an Iranian diplomat who was briefly detained on suspicion of spying, security officials said on Sunday.

The officials said the diplomat, who was released earlier in the day, would be “expelled within 48 hours.”

The decision was made public shortly after the man, identified as Qasim al-Hosseini, an employee at the Iranian Embassy in Cairo, was freed after his arrest on suspicion of spying for Tehran’s intelligence services.


Dentures save man shot in the face

SAO PAULO | An 81-year-old man shot in the face escaped death when his dentures deflected a bullet headed for his brain.

A hospital official said that Zacarias Pacheco de Moraes was shot Thursday while working in a bar he owns in the small western city of Alta Floresta.

Jose Marcos da Silva said the bullet probably would have pierced Mr. Moraes’ brain if it had not first hit his dentures before lodging in his throat. The official said the bullet will not be removed immediately because surgery right now would be too risky.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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