World briefs 3/2/06

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Iran, Russia end talks with no breakthrough

MOSCOW -- Iran refused to back down Wednesday in crucial talks on Russia's offer to enrich uranium for Tehran, but negotiators agreed to resume discussions today on a plan meant to ease Western fears Iran wants to build an atomic bomb. The chief Iranian nuclear negotiator also said his country did not intend to agree to Russian demands to impose another moratorium on uranium enrichment activity. "I want to say that the process of enrichment is the sovereign right of any country," Ali Larijani said after nearly five hours of talks in a Moscow hotel. "You should not take away this right from nations which have a peaceful nuclear program, which consequently, includes also enrichment." That drew an immediate response from the United States, which fears Iran will use enrichment to make uranium for a weapons program.

Nigerian militants release six hostages

WARRI, Nigeria -- Militants released six foreign oil workers, including a diabetic Texan celebrating his 69th birthday Wednesday, taken captive last month to press fighters' demands for a greater share of oil revenue generated in this restive southern state. But three other hostages -- two Americans and a Briton -- were kept by militants from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta. A militant spokesman said all "low-value" hostages taken Feb. 18 had been freed. Those released Wednesday included Macon Hawkins of Kosciusko, Texas; two Egyptians; two Thais; and a Filipino.

Prison riot involving al-Qaida inmates ends

AMMAN, Jordan -- Inmates released Jordan's top prison official along with a half-dozen police officers they had taken hostage, ending a riot that broke out over the fate of two convicted al-Qaida killers, a security official said Wednesday. As the Jordanian riot ended, a four-day revolt in an Afghan prison which authorities said was led by al-Qaida and Taliban loyalists was also winding down with six inmates reported killed. At the same time, Yemeni security officials announced they had thwarted escape attempts by al-Qaida suspects in two different prisons over the past two days. In Jordan, Maj. Gen. Owad al-Khalidi, the assistant director general of the public security directorate, announced the end of the 14-hour confrontation on Jordanian television.

Saddam says he ordered trial of executed Shiites

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A defiant Saddam Hussein admitted in court Wednesday that he ordered the trial of 148 Shiites eventually executed in the 1980s, but he insisted that doing so was legal because they were suspected in an assassination attempt against him. "Where is the crime?" Saddam asked, standing before the panel of five judges. "Is referring a defendant who opened fire at a head of state, no matter what his name is, a crime?"

-- From wire reports

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