World briefs 9/24/06

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Abbas: Unity government efforts 'back to zero'

JERUSALEM -- Accusing the Islamic militant group Hamas of backtracking, moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned on Saturday that his efforts to set up a national unity government that is acceptable to the West are "back to zero." Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas said Friday he would not lead a coalition that recognizes Israel, dealing a blow to Abbas' attempts to form a power-sharing government between his ousted Fatah group and Hamas. On Saturday, Hamas officials suggested that Abbas had oversold the emerging coalition to the international community, portraying it as more conciliatory toward Israel than it was meant to be. Despite Abbas' pessimism, Hamas insisted a deal could still be struck. Abbas is to meet with Hamas leaders in Gaza on Monday.

Experts probing human error behind train crash

LATHEN, Germany -- Investigators sought Saturday to determine why safety rules didn't prevent a high-speed magnetic train from powering up and speeding into a maintenance vehicle still on the elevated test track, killing 23 people. Alexander Retemeyer, a prosecutor speaking for investigators, said they were focusing on what happened in the 20-mile track's control center, where the required two employees were on duty. "What we are looking into is why the train was given the go-ahead even though the maintenance vehicle was on the track," Retemeyer said. Friday's crash near Lathen in northwestern Germany was the first involving a train using magnetic levitation, or maglev, in which the train rides on a magnetic field without touching rails. The lack of friction allows speeds as high as 270 miles per hour.

-- From wire reports

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