UNITED NATIONS

U.S., other countries threaten Syria

The United States, France and Britain yesterday demanded that Syria detain government officials suspected of involvement in the assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister and ensure their cooperation with a U.N. probe or face possible sanctions.

The call was contained in a draft resolution that orders Syria to make the officials or individuals “fully and unconditionally available” to the U.N. investigating commission.

It states that Syria must allow the commission to interview Syrians that it considers relevant to the inquiry “outside Syria and/or outside the presence of any other Syrian official if the commission so requests.”

If Syria does not fully cooperate with the investigation, the draft says the council intends to consider “further measures” to ensure compliance, including sanctions.

The draft resolution also calls for anyone designated by the commission as suspected of involvement in Hariri’s assassination to be subject to a travel ban and to have their assets frozen.

 

WASHINGTON

Conservatives campaign against Miers

A conservative group opposing Harriet Miers bought $250,000 of television and radio time yesterday to broadcast an advertisement nationwide calling for President Bush to withdraw his nominee for the Supreme Court.

The White House said it was standing behind Miers. “She is going to be going before the Senate Judiciary Committee in less than two weeks,” Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said. “She looks forward to answering their questions. And I think that people should not try to rush to judgment on it.”

The ad by Americans for Better Justice is the first anti-Miers television spot and is evidence of the battle the White House is facing over her nomination. A relatively small purchase, it will air nationally for a week on Fox News Channel.

Bush named Miers, 60, about a month ago to succeed retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a swing vote on the court’s abortion and affirmative action decisions. The conservative group Progress for America Voter Fund supported her nomination with television ads.

But many conservatives have criticized the president for nominating someone with no experience as a judge and a scant public record on issues such as abortion rights.

 

OTTAWA

PM Paul Martin calls for fight against bird flu

Canada’s prime minister yesterday stressed the importance of helping Southeast Asian nations fight bird flu as health ministers from around the world said the first line of defense against a pandemic is at the region’s poultry farms, while the second line may come down to ethics and politics.

At a two-day conference that began Monday, some officials discussed whether they might have to break international patent regulations to produce generic versions of Tamiflu if it came down to saving their civilians.

“A suggestion that’s being made by some countries is that there are countries that have the capacity to manufacture the vaccine, that we actually need to assist them with technology transfers,” Canada’s Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh told a news conference. He said technology transfers was “a euphemism for loosening the patent laws.”

 

JERUSALEM

Isreal criticized for slow-moving negotiations

A top Mideast envoy criticized Israel in especially tough language for moving too slowly on negotiations to open Gaza’s borders, saying the country is behaving almost as if the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip never happened.

Without dramatic progress soon, a rare chance to revive Gaza’s shattered economy – and the peace process – will be lost, the special Mideast envoy, James Wolfensohn said in a letter to the U.N. secretary general, Kofi Annan, and other international mediators obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

Violence, meanwhile, quickly escalated between Israel and the Palestinians after Israeli troops killed Luay Saadi, a top Palestinian fugitive, and a close accomplice in a pre-dawn shootout in the Tulkarem refugee camp in the West Bank. Saadi, the leader of Islamic Jihad’s military wing in the West Bank, was blamed for the deaths of 12 Israelis in attacks in recent months.

 

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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