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Digest

Surveillance aircraft is fastest, biggest

By TIMES WIRES
Published March 8, 2007


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PALMAHIM, ISRAEL

The Israeli air force unveiled its newest unmanned aircraft Wednesday, saying the plane can fly longer, faster and higher than any other surveillance aircraft. The drone, called the Heron, already saw combat during last summer's war in Lebanon, where Israeli officials said a prototype performed well, seeking out Hezbollah arms and directing airstrikes. The Heron has a 54-foot wingspan and can fly up to 30 hours at a speed of 140 mph and a height of 30,000 feet.

JERUSALEM

Israel arrests 18 in West Bank sweep

Israeli forces arrested 18 men suspected of being militants in a raid on the Palestinian Authority's military intelligence headquarters near Ramallah early Wednesday in what appears to be a growing security clampdown in the West Bank. Ephraim Sneh, Israel's deputy defense minister, said Israel had repeatedly asked Palestinian authorities to stop the 18 men from carrying out attacks, including recent ones on Israeli vehicles.

WASHINGTON

Lawmaker talks up U.S. values

The State Department is turning to Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, to help burnish the U.S. image in the Muslim world - despite Ellison's outspoken criticism of the Bush administration's foreign policy. Ellison, a freshman Democrat, is to meet with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Karen Hughes, the State Department's undersecretary for public diplomacy, at the end of the month. Ellison said, "The basic core message of this country - which is tolerance, human rights, opportunity - does not change, regardless of who happens to be the president."

WASHINGTON

Official defends aid to Bangladesh

A senior State Department official is defending U.S. aid to Bangladesh on grounds that failure to achieve democratic stability could transform the country into "a haven for anti-U.S. extremists." Testifying before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee, Assistant Secretary Richard Boucher said that, alternatively, a successful democratic evolution could make Bangladesh "a model for democratizing Muslim-majority states."

KHARTOUM, SUDAN

Darfur gunmen kill 2 peacekeepers

In a blow to the Darfur peace accord, gunmen believed to belong to rebel groups that signed the agreement have killed two African peacekeepers and threatened staff at a peacekeeping office, the African Union said Wednesday. The AU said it was "deeply concerned" that the rebels apparently belonged to the Minnawi faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement, which signed the peace agreement in May. The attack took place Monday in Geraida, South Darfur, the AU said.

[Last modified March 8, 2007, 01:49:04]


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