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Plans for deal with Saudis meet resistance

By TIMES WIRES
Published July 29, 2007


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WASHINGTON

The Bush administration's plan to sell $20-billion in advanced weaponry to Saudi Arabia and five other Persian Gulf countries is running into congressional opposition and criticism from human rights and arms control groups. Members of Congress vowed Saturday to oppose any deal to Saudi Arabia on grounds that the kingdom has been unhelpful in Iraq and unreliable at fighting terrorism. King Abdullah has called the U.S. military presence in Iraq an "illegitimate occupation," and the Saudis have been either unable or unwilling to stop suicide bombers who have ended up in Iraq, congressional sources told the Washington Post. The administration plans to sell advanced satellite-guided bombs, fighter aircraft upgrades and new naval vessels to six Gulf Cooperation Council countries, including Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman, officials say.

GAZA CITY, GAZA STRIP

Hamas to pay those cut off by Fatah

The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip will begin paying thousands of civil servants cut from the payroll of its moderate rival Fatah, officials said Saturday, further entrenching the divisions between the two Palestinian factions. Hamas' payment of the salaries would further cement its rule over impoverished Gaza, where unemployment is about 40 percent and most of the 1.4-million people receive foreign food handouts. The money will go to thousands of members of Hamas' Executive Force, a Hamas militia that polices Gaza, and those civil servants who refused an order from Prime Minister Salam Fayyad not to cooperate with the Islamic group.

Elsewhere

Australia: Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef flew home from Australia early today after prosecutors dropped a charge linking him to recent failed terrorist bombings in Britain. His work visa remained canceled.

Colombia: A confused clash between two bands of rebels led a commander to order the death of 11 hostage lawmakers last month, the national intelligence agency said Saturday. Testimony from deserting guerrillas and intercepted communications showed that the FARC's 60th Front commander ordered the hostages killed after the rebels spotted another band of insurgents and mistook them for the army.

Mexico: A Mexican judge ordered 18 police officers to stand trial on charges of aiding drug traffickers as the result of an investigation into the April kidnapping of four federal agents, prosecutors said Saturday.

China: Mine runoff spilled into a central Chinese river, temporarily cutting off drinking water to more than 200,000 people, a state news agency reported. More than 39,000 cubic yards of lead-zinc were washed into the Zijiang river in Hunan province on Thursday after a drain collapsed.

[Last modified July 29, 2007, 01:19:44]


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