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Sunday, February 20, 2005; Page A30

Sharon Says Trade-Offs Will Be Painful to Make

CAIRO -- In his first interview with an Arab newspaper since taking office, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he understood the costs of war and was willing to make painful concessions for peace -- though not at the price of his country's security.

In an interview published Saturday, Sharon told Egypt's daily Al-Ahram, an independent but pro-government newspaper, that if calm prevailed between the Israelis and Palestinians, the sides could soon begin political negotiations toward a final settlement.

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"Generals are always seen as people who want wars. The truth is otherwise," Sharon said. "I think it is important . . . for our generation who lived through it all to really take over the mission of pushing the peace process."

Sharon said his participation in all of Israel's wars gave him a deeper understanding of the importance of peace than other politicians who talk about peace but do not have his experience.

"I am determined to exert all efforts to reach a political settlement," Sharon was quoted as saying in the interview. "I can offer painful concessions for a real peace, peace for generations to come. But I am not ready to offer any concession when it comes to the security of Israeli citizens."

THE AMERICAS

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- A former Honduran prison chief was sentenced to 19 years behind bars for his role in the killings of 68 inmates in April 2003 during a riot, a judge said.

A court sentenced Oscar Sanchez in the northern city of La Ceiba Friday, judge Felipe Speer told Honduran radio.

CARACAS, Venezuela -- A 67-year-old Spaniard disguised as a Roman Catholic bishop was arrested in a Venezuelan airport with nearly 20 pounds of cocaine under his cassock, authorities said. Angel Velasco Padilla was arrested last week at Maiquetia international airport near the capital, Caracas, as he tried to board a flight to Spain.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Gunmen attacked Haiti's national penitentiary Saturday, killing one guard in a shootout that allowed some prisoners to escape, Haitian and U.N. peacekeeping officials said. Guards rushed two jailed allies of ousted leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide to a secret location when inmates began rioting.

ASIA

KATMANDU, Nepal -- Nepal has become a police state under emergency rule and King Gyanendra's forces are hounding political opponents, not the guerrillas they claim to be fighting, opposition leaders said. The military denies the allegations.

Ram Saran Mahat, a top leader of the Nepali Congress, the country's largest party, said he accepted the king's assertion that the country's politicians had been squabbling for power and had governance problems, but he insisted a state of emergency was not the answer.

QUETTA, Pakistan -- Police raided several homes in southwestern Pakistan, arresting 15 suspected Islamic militants and seizing hand grenades that were likely to be used against Shiite Muslims during the religious festival of Ashura, police said.


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