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U.S. to object to China-Pakistan nuclear reactor deal

Tuesday, June 15, 2010; A06

NUCLEAR EXPORTS

U.S. will object to China-Pakistan deal

The Obama administration has decided to object to a lucrative deal in which state-owned Chinese companies would supply Pakistan with two nuclear reactors, U.S. officials said.

The deal is expected to be discussed next week at a meeting in New Zealand of the 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which monitors such transactions. Experts had said it appears to be a violation of international guidelines forbidding nuclear exports to countries that have not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or do not have international safeguards on reactors. Pakistan has not signed the treaty.

China has suggested that the sale is grandfathered from before it joined the NSG in 2004, because it was completing work on two earlier reactors for Pakistan at the time. But U.S. officials disagree.

"Additional nuclear cooperation with Pakistan beyond those specific projects that were grandfathered in 2004 would require consensus approval" by the NSG, a U.S. official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity, "which we believe is extremely unlikely."

State Department spokesman Gordon DuGuid said the U.S. government "has reiterated to the Chinese government that the United States expects Beijing to cooperate with Pakistan in ways consistent with Chinese nonproliferation obligations."

-- Glenn Kessler

MEXICO

Gates, Slim to help fund public health

Two of the richest men on the planet, along with the government of Spain, announced Monday that they are donating a total of $150 million to fund new public-private health programs for the poorest citizens in Central America and southern Mexico.

Billionaires Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, and Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecommunications mogul who in March was named the richest man in the world by Forbes magazine, have partnered their charitable foundations to bankroll an ambitious five-year project to improve health and nutrition for mothers and children in the region; to provide childhood vaccinations and to fight malaria and dengue; and to improve family planning for 10 million of the poorest of the poor.

"It's tragic that more money is not spent," Gates said at a news conference here, following a meeting attended by Mexican President Felipe Calder?n. Gates predicted that his $50 million investment over five years would help regional governments provide better health, as the donation requires their ministers of health to meet goals if they want the money to continue to flow.

Slim said he was spending his $50 million contribution -- made from a near-monopoly on cellular phone service in Mexico -- because poor health in Mexico and Central America has created not only misery but slowed economic development. Spain will also donate $50 million.

-- William Booth

MIDDLE EAST

E.U. denounces Gaza blockade

The European Union on Monday called Israel's closure of Gaza "unacceptable" and offered to play a role in opening the borders, as Israel appointed three Israeli experts and two foreign observers to a panel to investigate its deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

The E.U. move added to the intense pressure Israel has faced to lift the blockade since nine pro-activists died in clashes after Israeli commandos boarded one of the aid ships last month. The three-year closure has withheld all but the most basic supplies from Gaza's 1.5 million Palestinian residents.

The most notable dissent has come from President Obama, who called the Gaza closure unsustainable. The U.S. pressure resonates more with Israel because of its close alliance with Washington.

-- Associated Press

Barcelona bans veils in some public spaces: Barcelona has become the first big city in predominantly Catholic Spain to forbid full face veils in public buildings such as markets and libraries. Full veils are banned in all public spaces in the small towns of Lerida and El Vendrell, which like Barcelona are in the northeastern region of Catalonia.

Castro compares Israel to Nazis: A charge by former Cuban leader Fidel Castro that Israel would like to use Nazi extermination tactics against the Palestinians was denounced as outrageous by Israeli officials. Castro's comments were issued by his country's mission in Geneva as the U.N. Human Rights Council heard a report backing a worldwide boycott of Israel over its policies on occupied territory.

-- From news services

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