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World briefs 2/26/04

Thursday, February 26, 2004

U.S., N. Korea meeting privately at six-nation talks

BEIJING -- North Korea held a rare private meeting with the United States on Wednesday and also won an offer of compensation from South Korea if it relinquishes its nuclear weapons program -- part of a spate of activity on the first day of long-anticipated six-country talks. The highly unusual meeting came on the sidelines of six-nation talks aimed at ending the standoff over the North's nuclear program. The talks resumed today with the United States continuing its push for a verifiable end to the North's ambitions of becoming a nuclear power. Delegates began the second day of negotiations emphasizing that any conclusions were premature.

Israel raids Ramallah banks; troops seize funds

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Israeli forces burst into Palestinian banks on Wednesday, corralled employees, covered security cameras and seized at least $6.7 million in an unprecedented raid. Israel said Iran, Syria and Lebanese guerrillas sent the funds to Palestinian militants. Palestinian officials said the raid violated banking agreements and could trigger a run on the banks. "It's like the Mafia," Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia said of the operation. "I think it should be dealt with in a very serious way." Israel said the raid was part of the global fight against terror funding. The Palestinian banking system has remained relatively stable, despite more than three years of Israeli-Palestinian violence that has decimated the Palestinian economy.

Religious clash in Nigeria leaves at least 48 dead

LAGOS, Nigeria -- Suspected Muslim militants armed with guns and bows and arrows killed at least 48 people in an attack on a farming village in central Nigeria. Most of the victims died as they sought refuge in a church, police said Wednesday. The latest bout of Muslim-Christian violence in the region occurred Tuesday night in Yelwa, a mainly Christian town in Nigeria's Plateau State, police commissioner Innocent Ilozuoke said. The killings appeared to be the latest retaliatory attack in a sporadic conflict that has rocked the central region since an outburst of sectarian violence in 2001, pitting Christians against Muslims in once-peaceful Jos.

Iran: U.N. agency report a 'misunderstanding'

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran on Wednesday dismissed a U.N. report accusing it of failing to disclose a radioactive material needed to trigger a nuclear explosion, saying the report was based on a "misunderstanding." But the American envoy to the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said the report "strengthens" Washington's assessment that Iran's nuclear program "is clearly geared" toward building atomic bombs. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Iran had done research in the past on polonium but stopped 13 years ago. The report by the International Atomic Energy Agency was nothing new, he said.

U.N. tribunal convicts Rwanda genocide suspect

ARUSHA, Tanzania -- The U.N. tribunal for Rwanda convicted a former senior military officer of genocide Wednesday and acquitted two other suspects, including a former transport minister. Former Lt. Samuel Imanishimwe was sentenced to 27 years in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity, said tribunal spokesman Roland Amoussouga. The court ruled that Imanishimwe, as army commander of a southwestern Rwandan region, ordered his soldiers to take part in the massacre of thousands of civilians in 1994.

Two soldiers killed when helicopter crashes in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Two American soldiers were killed Wednesday when their helicopter crashed in a river west of Baghdad, and gunmen assassinated the deputy police chief in the northern city of Mosul. The cause of the crash of the OH-58 Kiowa helicopter that killed its two-man crew near Haditha, 120 miles from the capital, was not determined, said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt. A witness, Emad Rasheed, 45, said he saw a missile hit one of two choppers in the area. With the latest crash, the U.S. military has lost 15 helicopters since the occupation began in May -- most to hostile fire. At least 60 Americans have been killed in the crashes.

-- From wire reports


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