Russian president warns U.S. against any attack on Iraq...

FOREIGN DIGEST

February 12, 2002

Russian president warns U.S. against any attack on Iraq

MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir V. Putin warned against U.S. military action against Iraq, saying that the situation in the Persian Gulf nation was different from that in Afghanistan and that only the United Nations Security Council could sanction an attack.

In an interview yesterday in The Wall Street Journal, Putin called his nation's partnership with the United States the key to stability in the world. The two powers have reached a "new level of trust," he was quoted as saying.

He acknowledged that Iraq presented a "problem," but said, "Such problems cannot be solved by one country alone." Russia is Iraq's closest ally in the Security Council, and Moscow frequently has tried to end the U.N. sanctions imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 and has protested U.S. and British airstrikes.

Kuwaiti official quits post in protest to government

KUWAIT - A senior Kuwaiti official has quit his post in Washington because of an uproar at home over his participation in a debate with Israelis on the Mideast peace process at the World Economic Forum.

In a statement issued in here yesterday, Shafiq al-Ghabra said he had resigned as head of the Kuwait Information Office in Washington to protest accusations that he was normalizing relations with Israel. He said the Kuwaiti government had not given him sufficient support.

At the economic forum in New York, Al-Ghabra took part in a seminar Feb. 2 whose participants discussed the Mideast peace process. Other participants included former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami and the president of Tel Aviv University.

Military court convicts man of plotting terror attacks

AMMAN, Jordan - A military court convicted a Jordanian-American yesterday of plotting terror attacks against American and Israeli tourists in Jordan during millennium celebrations. He was sentenced to death.

The judge dismissed a charge of belonging to an illegal organization - identified in court documents as al-Qaida - against Raed Hijazi, saying there was no evidence Osama bin Laden's organization had a formal structure or membership in Jordan.

Ireland to dissolve firm that replicated famine ship

DUBLIN, Ireland - The government said yesterday it will dissolve the bankrupt company that tried to build a seaworthy replica of a Great Famine ship that carried Irish emigrants to North America.

The new Jeanie Johnston, nine years and $14 million in the making, remains moored at Blennerville in County Kerry, southwest Ireland, considered too dangerous to attempt a voyage to U.S. and Canadian ports.

"The fact of the matter is that this was a group of well-meaning people who had a dream, and it went entirely wrong," said Minister of the Marine Frank Fahy. "It's a pity it's been such a disaster."

Robbers steal $6.5 million from van at Heathrow

LONDON - Robbers held up a security van at Heathrow Airport yesterday and escaped with $6.5 million in a variety of currencies that had just arrived from Bahrain, police said.

Police said the driver of the van was attacked by at least two men at the airport's Terminal 4 at about 6:30 a.m. The robbers forced him to the ground and bound his wrists before transferring the cash, which had arrived on British Airways Flight 124, into another van.

The guard went into shock and suffered wrist injuries. Police said the man did not report seeing firearms during the robbery.

U.S. calls Arafat letter `positive,' seeks action

WASHINGTON - A message from Yasser Arafat to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is raising hopes that the Palestinian leader will take a more aggressive stand on terror attacks on Israel.

"We did find it to be a positive letter, and we now look for action along the lines that he indicated in his letter," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said yesterday. He declined to reveal the letter's contents.

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