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News Briefs I

Iran Formally Disavows Death Edict on Author Rushdie

Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON

The government of Iran, moving to resolve a longstanding source of friction between the Islamic nation and the West, on Thursday formally disavowed a decade-old death edict directed at "Satanic Verses" author Salman Rushdie.

The diplomatic breakthrough, in which Iran also distanced itself from a $2.5 million bounty offered by Islamic conservatives, was clinched during a meeting in New York between Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi and British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook. Britain has been at the forefront of international efforts to resolve the Rushdie impasse.

"An extraordinary thing has been achieved," Rushdie exulted in an interview with Sky Television in London, where he has been in hiding since the death edict was issued by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989. "It means everything. It means freedom."

Tehran's action does not necessarily prevent individual Islamic extremists from acting on their own initiative against Rushdie, whose fictional portrayal of the prophet Mohammed in "The Satanic Verses" was regarded as blasphemous by many Muslims.

But officials in Britain and the United States - and Rushdie himself - expressed hope that Kharrazi's proclamation would be sufficient to allow the author to emerge from hiding and resume something resembling a normal life.

India Indicates Aim to Complete Nuclear Test Ban Negotiations

Los Angeles Times
Washington

Under international pressure to curb nuclear tensions in South Asia, India indicated publicly for the first time Thursday that it aims to complete negotiations so a global nuclear test ban treaty can go into effect within a year.

But in an address at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee did not actually promise to sign the accord, a key component of international efforts to end the nuclear arms race. His speech thus appeared more ambiguous than the pledge made Wednesday by Pakistan's prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, who said his country was "prepared to adhere" to the treaty as long as India refrained from further tests.

Vajpayee said only that India was "prepared to bring discussions" on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty "to a successful conclusion" so the treaty can go into effect by September 1999.

CIA Thwarted Bomb Plot Against Embassy in Uganda

The Washington Post
WASHINGTON

American intelligence officers helped foil a plot last week by Islamic extremists to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Uganda, the most serious in an array of recent threats against American installations around the world, according to U.S. government sources.

Ugandan authorities alerted by the Central Intelligence Agency have detained 20 suspects in the case, including the two alleged ringleaders, who were arrested last week when they tried to enter the country from Kenya. Those two men are believed to be associates of Islamic extremist Osama bin Laden, who is suspected of orchestrating last month's bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

American officials have investigated a flood of threats worldwide since the east Africa embassy bombings killed 265 people on Aug. 7.. Thursday, German police deployed more than 100 officers to the consulate in Hamburg after receiving information from a "serious source" that a terrorist attack was imminent.