Pope Again Clarifies Remarks About Islam

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Pope Again Clarifies Remarks About Islam

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI said Wednesday that he did not mean to malign Islam last week when he quoted critical comments by a medieval emperor, but he did not issue the direct apology still demanded by some Muslim leaders who were offended by his remarks.

"For the careful reader of my text," the pope said during an audience in a tightly guarded St. Peter's Square, "it is clear that in no way did I wish to make my own the negative words of the medieval emperor. I wished to explain that not religion and violence, but religion and reason go together," he added, drawing applause from the crowd of about 20,000.

He expressed "deep respect" for Islam and called for a dialogue among religions. It was the second time in four days that he has sought to clarify his intentions and defuse the sometimes violent anger in the Muslim world that followed his speech.

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ASIA

· KABUL, Afghanistan -- Clashes and bombings killed 34 Taliban fighters and a policeman in Afghanistan in recent days, police and defense officials said. President Hamid Karzai, meanwhile, told the United Nations that terrorist sanctuaries elsewhere must be destroyed to eliminate the violence engulfing his country.

· ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Coal mining accidents in Kazakhstan and Ukraine killed at least 45 workers and left eight missing and presumed dead, raising concerns about mine safety in the former Soviet republics.

EUROPE

· LONDON -- The top fundraiser for Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labor Party, Michael Levy, was questioned by police investigating a loans-for-favors scandal. Police are investigating allegations that Labor promised lordships -- state honors that carry lifelong seats in the House of Lords -- in return for loans to help a 2005 general election campaign.

· MOSCOW -- Russia's flag carrier Aeroflot plans to buy 22 airliners from the Boeing Co. and 22 from Airbus, but only with government approval, the state-controlled company said. The announcement came a day after National Reserve Corp., a private company with a 30 percent stake in Aeroflot, said it had independently signed a deal reserving 22 Boeing 787 Dreamliners because the Aeroflot board did not meet a deadline for confirming the order.

· BERLIN -- Germany's parliament approved plans to send as many as 2,400 naval and air force personnel to Lebanon as peacekeepers.

· VALMY, France -- Far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen launched his 2007 presidential campaign on a historic French battleground, urging people of all colors and origins to rally to his anti-immigration flag. Le Pen, 78, shocked France by finishing second to President Jacques Chirac in the 2002 election.

THE AMERICAS

· BUENOS AIRES -- A retired police commissioner, Miguel Etchecolatz, 77, was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison for murder, torture and kidnappings during Argentina's "dirty war" of the late 1970s and early 1980s, in one of the first sentences since amnesty laws were scrapped last year.

-- From News Services

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