World briefs 12/16/04

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Egypt charts course to quick Mideast peace

CAIRO, Egypt -- Egypt is generating new hope for Mideast peace after four bleak years, transforming Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon from pariah to peacemaker and seeking to draw Arab leaders and a wary public into its efforts. The peace drive has included appeals to Arab rulers to support the new Palestinian leadership and an economic deal Tuesday that is arguably the biggest step in Israeli-Egyptian relations in 25 years.

Australia: Terrorists plan to attack Indonesia

SYDNEY, Australia -- Terrorists are ready to carry out an attack in Indonesia, possibly targeting a Hilton hotel, Australia said Wednesday, and Britain warned of an increased threat of terror attacks in Indonesia during the Christmas holidays. Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade issued a statement saying it had "received credible new information suggesting terrorists are ready to carry out an attack shortly in Indonesia, "possibly targeting a Hilton hotel," adding "Other targets cannot be ruled out."

Ex-soldiers take over Aristide's home in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- A band of former soldiers took over ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's former home early Wednesday and said they would use it to provide security in the neighborhood on the outskirts of the capital. Dozens of ex-soldiers entered Aristide's abandoned compound before dawn, said former Sgt. Remissainthe Ravix, their spokesman. Armed men wearing fatigues guarded the walled entrance of the estate as two men painted two big white pillars mustard yellow, the color of the Haitian military.

Israel's foreign minister embraces 'road map'

JERUSALEM -- Israel's foreign minister on Wednesday embraced the U.S.-backed "road map" leading to a Palestinian state and conditionally warmed up to Syrian peace overtures -- more signs of movement on Mideast peace in the post-Yasser Arafat era. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom called for reconvening the 2003 summit that launched the "road map," pledging negotiations with the new Palestinian leadership and with Syria if they fight militant violence against Israel.

U.S. defends treatment of Afghan detainees

KABUL, Afghanistan -- The U.S. military said Wednesday it has at least six open cases of prisoners who died in custody in Afghanistan dating back to 2002, but claimed it has taken steps to ensure against abuse of detainees. Amid the fallout over abuse of prisoners in Iraq, Brig. Gen. Charles Jacoby Jr. was dispatched in May to examine treatment of current detainees at the two U.S. prisons and 20 "field holding sites" in Afghanistan. His report, which is still under review with no time set for release, found no evidence of abuse, Maj. Mark McCann told a news conference Wednesday in Kabul.

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