THE MIDDLE EAST
Iraq to Resume Oil Exports
BAGHDAD, Iraq--Iraq announced yesterday that it will resume crude oil exports this week and complained that the U.N. sanctions committee had been late in approving oil contracts submitted earlier. The exports will occur under the U.N. oil-for-food program, which the Security Council renewed Friday for a six-month term.
The program, an exception to U.N. economic sanctions, allows Iraq to sell oil worth $5.2 billion every six months so it can buy food and other humanitarian goods.
Iraq had halted oil exports to protest a stopgap two-week extension when the sixth phase of the humanitarian program ended Nov. 20.
Jailed Reformist Registers for Elections
TEHRAN--A jailed popular reformist has registered to run in Iran's legislative elections, according to the editorial staff of a newspaper linked to the politician.
Abdollah Nouri, a former interior minister, was registered by his lawyer, Mohsen Rahami, for the Feb. 18 elections, journalists at the newspaper Fatth said. Nouri's nomination has to be approved by the Guardian Council, a body dominated by conservative hard-liners that has previously rejected moderate candidates.
In November, a court sentenced Nouri to five years in jail for religious dissent.
U.N. Agrees to Share Power in Kosovo
PRISTINA, Yugoslavia--In a move designed to bring stability to Kosovo, the province's senior U.N. administrator signed a power-sharing deal with ethnic Albanian leaders.
U.N. administrator Bernard Kouchner signed the agreement along with three ethnic Albanian leaders--Hashim Thaqi, former political chief of the officially disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army; Ibrahim Rugova, president of the unrecognized Kosovo Republic; and moderate politician Rexhep Qosja.
The province's Serbian leadership rejected the agreement, calling it another step toward an independent, ethnic Albanian-run Kosovo. The agreement creates an interim administration to run the province.
Sri Lanka Asserts Army Victory
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka--Sri Lanka's army commander said his troops have blocked a massive assault by Tamil separatists at the gateway to their former capital, Jaffna.
Brig. Sunil Tennakoon, a Defense Ministry spokesman, said 480 rebels and 28 soldiers have been killed since Saturday, when the rebels first attacked Elephant Pass, the causeway linking the mainland to the Jaffna Peninsula.
The guerrillas disputed the military claim, saying 38 of their fighters and more than 100 troops were killed. In the last six weeks, the rebels have overrun more than 100 towns, villages and army garrisons in an offensive that has reversed the tide of the 16-year war.
Ousted Pakistani Decries His Treatment
LAHORE, Pakistan--Ousted Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif, allowed brief parole from jail to join family mourning, told followers in his native city that his "difficult time" would end soon.
In a remarks at the home of his late mother-in-law, he accused military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf of victimizing him by ordering his trial on charges that can bring a death sentence. "This is not the Pakistan army, but a few generals who are doing this," Sharif said about the Oct. 12 bloodless military coup that toppled him and the planned trial.
Americans Among Falun Gong Detainees
HONG KONG--Chinese police detained four American and two Hong Kong members of the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement, a Hong Kong human rights group said.
Police in Shenzhen, bordering Hong Kong, took the six--two Hong Kong residents and four Chinese Americans--away from their hotel rooms, the Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said in a statement.
Police questioned them for more than four hours, released them, and detained them again, group spokesman Frank Lu said.
Quebec Introduces Separatist Legislation
QUEBEC CITY--Quebec retaliated against the bold tactics of the Canadian government by unveiling legislation reaffirming its right to declare independence in the fashion it sees fit.
Separatists in Quebec City and Canadian flag wavers in Ottawa are in an uproar over who has the right to define the rules for the next, but as yet unannounced, referendum on Quebec's future.
The Quebec bill counters Ottawa's controversial legislation complicating the province's ability to secede.
Rebels Hit Hard in Colombian Attack
BOGOTA, Colombia--Security forces said they killed 74 Communist rebels heading for a safe haven in southeastern Colombia three days after guerrillas inflicted one of the worst defeats of the year on a military unit near the Panamanian border.
Police operations director Gen. Alfonso Arellano said the 300-strong column of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was hit by a wave of airstrikes as it retreated after an attack on Hobo, a town in central Huila province.
Television images showed that the entire central area of Hobo had been leveled and just piles of still-smoldering ruins remained.
The column was thought to be headed for a Switzerland-size region in the southeast that President Andres Pastrana cleared of security forces as a forum for slow-moving peace talks, officials said.
Algerian Violence Claims 11 Soldiers
ALGIERS--Muslim rebels killed 11 Algerian soldiers and wounded 10 others in a roadside attack on a convoy of military vehicles, security sources said. The attack brought to more than 50 the number of people killed since last Thursday, when the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began in Algeria.
The upsurge of violence followed a pattern that has marked the observance of Ramadan in Algeria in the last three years. Radical Muslim guerrillas see the month as an auspicious period to step up what they call their "holy war" to set up a strict Islamic state.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I do not know much, if anything about it, really... My vote is for Chavez and against the crooks who sacked the country for 40 years and left us disappointed."
-- Venezuelan Pedro Caldera, on why he voted in favor of a new constitution advocated by President Hugo Chavez --Page A30.