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News Briefs

U.S. Claims Raid Killed Militants, Not Civilians

THE NEW YORK TIMES -- KABUL, AFGHANISTAN

U.S. military officials said on Tuesday that a raid over the weekend in southern Afghanistan had killed only 5 Taliban militants, not 11 civilians, as Afghan officials have reported.

But Abdul Rahman, the chief of the Char Chino district in Oruzgan Province, where the incident took place, said again on Tuesday that 11 civilians had been killed, including three women and four children.

“I collected the bodies with people and I also participated in their funeral ceremony,” he said by telephone. “If the Americans think those four men who were our friends, those four children and three women were the Taliban, that is something not acceptable.”

But Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, said at a news conference on Tuesday that coalition forces had engaged “five armed adult males fleeing from a known terrorist compound” after receiving intelligence on Saturday evening about a gathering of midlevel Taliban fighters.

Pakistan Bans Nuclear Scientists From Traveling Outside Country

THE NEW YORK TIMES -- ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN

Pakistan on Tuesday barred all scientists working on its nuclear weapons program from leaving the country, as the government intensified its inquiry into allegations that nuclear technology had been shared with Iran.

At the same time, a senior intelligence official said a former army commander had approved the transfer of technology to Iran.

The official said the scientist who had led the effort to build an atomic bomb, Abdul Qadeer Khan, had told investigators that any sharing of nuclear technology with Iran had the approval of Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg, the commander of Pakistan’s army from 1988 to 1991. The official said aides to Khan had told investigators the same thing.

U.S. Group Says North Koreans Are Eager to Deal With West

THE NEW YORK TIMES -- WASHINGTON

The leader of an unofficial U.S. delegation that visited North Korea this month said on Tuesday that North Korea seemed anxious to resolve differences with the United States over its nuclear program.

North Korean officials told the delegation that the Bush administration’s central concern, complete and verifiable dismantlement of their nuclear weapons program, was within reach, said John W. Lewis, the group’s leader, in a telephone interview.

He spoke a day before another member of the group, Siegfried Hecker, a former director of the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico, is scheduled to tell the Senate of his conclusions about the state of the nuclear complex in Yongbyon that was the focus of the group’s visit.

Lewis, a professor emeritus of Chinese politics at Stanford, is the founder of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford, which seeks to influence policy by engaging foreign officials and citizens on a second track, independent of the U.S. government. In this case, he led a delegation of civilian experts to North Korea, in advance of a delayed second round of six-nation talks to try to defuse the threat that North Korea might be building nuclear weapons.