World briefs 8/5/05

Friday, August 5, 2005

NATO to take reins in Afghanistan in 2006

KABUL, Afghanistan-- A NATO-led international force is set to expand and will be ready to assume responsibility for security across all of Afghanistan by the end of next year, freeing up many of the 17,600 American troops battling militants here, a NATO general said Thursday. The announcement follows a surge in fighting between U.S.-led forces and Taliban rebels ahead of elections next month. The bloodshed has led the military to rush in an airborne infantry battalion of about 700 troops on standby in Fort Bragg, N.C.

Coup leader meets first with U.S., French envoys

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania -- Thousands rallied Thursday to support the military junta that toppled Mauritania's pro-Western president a day earlier, as the African country's top leader met with the U.S. and French ambassadors. The meetings with the envoys of former colonial power France and counterterrorism partner America were among the first Col. Ely Ould Mohamed Vall held, and appeared designed to assure the international community it had nothing to fear from the new regime. The junta also issued a statement announcing the dissolution of the country's bicameral legislature. Western and other African nations and the United Nations condemned the coup.

N. Korea won't abandon 'peaceful' nuke programs

BEIJING -- North Korea insisted Thursday during six-nation disarmament talks that it retain the right to "peaceful nuclear activities" -- a demand the United States opposes because of suspicions the North could use those programs to make weapons. Delegates vowed to press ahead with the talks, but the Chinese hosts for the first time raised the prospect they could end without an agreement. The talks continue today. North Korean vice foreign minister Kim Kye Gwan said "We are for denuclearizing, but we also want to possess the right to peaceful nuclear activities," Kim said in a rare public comment outside the North's embassy. "As you know, only one country is opposing that," he said, referring to the United States.

Israel's nuke program got ingredient from Britain

LONDON -- Britain helped launch Israel's nuclear program in 1959 by secretly selling Israel 20 tons of heavy water, a key ingredient in making atomic bombs, newly declassified documents suggest. British officials involved were at pains to avoid telling Washington about the secret deal, according to the papers made available on Thursday by the National Archive in London. "On the whole I would prefer NOT to mention this to the Americans," Foreign Office official Donald Cape wrote in an official paper at the time, the documents showed. The revelation is potentially embarrassing for the British government at a time when London is heavily engaged with its European Union partners in trying to persuade Iran -- a nation hostile to Israel -- to give up its nuclear ambitions.

-- From wire reports

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