World in brief
Hamas joins Palestinian election
By wire services
Published March 13, 2005
NABLUS, West Bank - Hamas, the major force behind a four-year suicide bombing campaign and sworn to the destruction of Israel, decided Saturday to run in a Palestinian parliamentary election.
Hamas political leader Mohammed Ghazal said the group would decide after the July 17 vote, days before Israel is to begin withdrawing from the Gaza Strip, whether to join Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' Cabinet and whether to support his moves to renew peace talks with Israel.
U.N. envoy: Syria will fully withdraw from Lebanon
DAMASCUS, Syria - President Bashar Assad on Saturday restated his readiness for a complete withdrawal of Syrian troops and intelligence agents from neighboring Lebanon, a key U.N. envoy said.
Also Saturday, Syria moved about 1,000 soldiers across the border into Syria, the first to come home since the latest redeployment began.
U.N. envoy Terje Roed-Larsen met with Assad on Saturday. He refused to give other details about the meeting, but said he would provide U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan with further details of the timetable at an upcoming meeting.
Pope could leave hospital as soon as Monday
VATICAN CITY - Pope John Paul II is preparing to leave the hospital this week, possibly as soon as Monday or Tuesday, for his return to the Vatican in time for Holy Week, according to the Rev. Richard Nitschke, who spoke to the pope's personal secretary during a visit Saturday. He is the first person to publicly offer details on a possible discharge date. The Vatican did not confirm the date.
Iran rejects U.S. incentives to end nuclear ambitions
TEHRAN, Iran - Iran scoffed at U.S. incentives aimed at coaxing the Islamic republic to drop its nuclear ambitions and declared Saturday that Washington's overtures did nothing to change Tehran's plans to push ahead with its nuclear program.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said neither threats nor incentives would alter Iran's determination to develop peaceful nuclear technology. Washington insists Tehran's uranium enrichment program is designed to build a nuclear weapon, not merely to provide an alternative energy source.
Egypt releases presidential candidate from prison
CAIRO - An Egyptian opposition leader who announced his presidential bid while in prison was released to a hero's welcome Saturday, weeks after Washington raised concerns about his imprisonment, which called into question Egypt's pledges of democratic reform.
Ayman Nour, 40, plans to run for president this year against 24-year incumbent Hosni Mubarak, who gave the surprise order that the constitution be amended to permit multicandidate elections later this year.
Moldova arrests ex-official in $10-million fraud case
CHISINAU, Moldova - A former defense minister has been arrested on suspicions of defrauding the government of $10-million in the sale of military aircraft to the United States, prosecutors said Saturday.
Valeriu Pasat, who also served as Moldova's spy chief until 2002, was detained Friday after he arrived in the capital from Moscow, where he is an adviser to the Russian company Unified Energy Systems.
Pasat was to be held for three days on suspicion that he pocketed $10-million of the state's money in the sale of 21 MiG-29 fighter jets to the United States in 1997, according to a statement from Valeriu Gorbulea, the deputy prosecutor.
More reports link U.N. personnel to sexual abuse
UNITED NATIONS - The United Nations is facing new allegations of sexual misconduct by U.N. personnel in Burundi, Haiti, Liberia and elsewhere, which is complicating the organization's efforts to contain a sexual abuse scandal that has tarnished its Nobel Prize-winning peacekeepers in Congo.
The reports of sexual abuse have come from U.N. officials, internal U.N. documents, and local and international human rights organizations that have tracked the issue. Some U.N. officials and outside observers say there have been cases of abuse in almost every U.N. mission, including operations in Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and Kosovo.
Interim leader takes over in Hong Kong until July 10
HONG KONG - Hong Kong's new acting leader took office Saturday, marking Hong Kong's first leadership change since the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Donald Tsang will take over for Tung Chee-hwa until a new leader is elected July 10.
Tsang also confirmed the fears of prodemocracy lawmakers by saying that the elected leader would complete Tung's term only by serving two years, rather than a full five. Prodemocracy lawmakers and the Hong Kong Bar Association fear that China was pressuring the government to twist the law for Beijing's purposes, endangering Hong Kong's legal integrity.
[Last modified March 13, 2005, 00:24:03]
[an error occurred while processing this directive]