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Nations refuse to expel Iraqi diplomats

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 22, 2003

PARIS -- A growing list of nations Friday brushed off, dismissed or outright rejected a U.S. request to expel Iraqi diplomats and close their embassies.

Muslim countries opposed to the war voiced anger about the request, while war skeptics in Europe firmly declined. Even supporters of military action said they were undecided.

"The U.S. can't dictate to other countries," Indonesian Vice President Hamzah Haz told reporters after attending prayers Friday at a mosque outside Jakarta. "It is only us who can decide our own foreign policies."

Malaysia, which fears the war will spur more terrorist attacks, also objected, saying there was no evidence Iraqi diplomats had compromised the country's security. Algeria declined, too.

The latest request -- which follows a similar one against 300 Iraqi diplomats two weeks ago -- came Thursday. U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the diplomats represented a "corrupt and ruthless regime."

Iraqis arrested in illicit transfers of $7-million

DENVER -- Two Iraqis have been arrested for investigation of operating an unlicensed money transferring business that allegedly sent more than $7-million to Iraq, authorities confirmed Friday.

Maitham Abdulla Jaber Al Samar, 39, and his brother, Qassim Abdulla Jaber Al Samar, 38, both of Denver, made initial appearances in federal court Friday, one day after they were arrested.

Maitham Al Samar, who does business as Alrafden Transactions, is accused of sending more than $7-million to Iraq during the past 21/2 years, U.S. Attorney John Suthers said.

Qassim Al Samar does business as a tobacco sales company called Wholly Smokes, authorities said.

Essential gear at Israeli weddings: gas masks

JERUSALEM -- Seamstresses are working in bomb shelters and wedding guests are bringing gas masks with their gifts as Israelis press on with marriages despite fears of an Iraqi missile strike.

Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau asked couples not to cancel weddings unless they had no other choice. Under Jewish law, weddings are not to be canceled except in extreme circumstances.

To get around the ban on work on the Sabbath, which includes operating electronic devices, Israel set up a radio channel that can be turned on before the Friday evening start of the holy day and used only to broadcast an attack warning.

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