Grand coalition to govern
BERLIN — Germany’s main parties sealed an agreement yesterday to create a government of traditional rivals under the leadership of conservative Angela Merkel, ending eight weeks of deadlock after an inconclusive general election.
“I’m convinced that the coalition creates a genuine opportunity for Germany,” said Mrs. Merkel, who will become the country’s first woman chancellor and first from the former communist East if, as expected, the new parliament formally elects her Nov. 22.
She will head a potentially unwieldy bipartisan government that includes her Christian Democrats (CDU), their Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Social Democrats of outgoing Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
Iranian navy frees sailors who strayed
LONDON — A British couple and an Australian man held in Iran for 13 days after their sailboat apparently strayed into Iranian waters were released yesterday, the Foreign Office said.
Rupert and Linda Wise and Paul Shulton were stopped by the Iranian navy Oct. 28 as they sailed from their home in Dubai toward the disputed island of Abu Musa, which is claimed by both Iran and the United Arab Emirates.
British and Australian officials said the three had apparently been detained because they strayed into Iranian waters.
Uranium enrichment abroad opposed
TEHRAN — Iran said yesterday it would not accept any proposal aimed at solving its nuclear standoff with the West that did not allow it to enrich uranium on its own territory.
“For Iran it is important to have [uranium] enrichment on its own soil,” Ali Larijani, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.
Under a Russian proposal Iran would be allowed to “convert” uranium, a preliminary stage in the process of making nuclear fuel. But uranium enrichment would be carried out only as a joint venture with Russia on Russian soil.
Bombay bombings suspect questioned
BOMBAY — Indian investigators yesterday got their first chance to question a notorious underworld figure suspected for years of plotting deadly bombings that killed hundreds and of terrorizing India’s Bollywood film industry.
Abu Salem, who was arrested in Lisbon in September 2002, is a prime suspect in 1993 bombings that struck Bombay’s stock exchange, killing 257 persons and wounding more than 1,100.
Newspaper to pay Annan’s son in libel
LONDON — The son of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has accepted a settlement from a British newspaper that claimed he was involved in selling Iraqi oil during Saddam Hussein’s rule, his lawyer said yesterday.
Businessman Kojo Annan had brought High Court libel proceedings over a January story in the Sunday Times. His lawyer, Simon Smith, said the newspaper claimed Kojo Annan admitted to a friend that he had been involved in negotiations to sell 2 million barrels of Iraqi oil to a Moroccan company in 2001 as part of the corruption-riddled U.N. oil-for-food program.
Extradition sought of 22 CIA agents
ROME — Italian prosecutors have requested the extradition of 22 CIA agents over the kidnapping of a terrorism suspect who was grabbed off a street in 2003 and taken abroad, a judicial source said yesterday.
The request is now before Justice Minister Roberto Castelli, who can decide to make a formal request to the United States to pursue the case.
Prosecutors in the northern city of Milan think that the CIA was behind the disappearance of Egyptian-born Imam Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar.