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Briefs (left)

China Textiles Put EU’s Negotiator In the Middle

By Paul Meller


Peter Mandelson, the European Union’s top trade official, continued to grapple Thursday with six nations in his group as well as China in an effort to defuse a dispute over a tide of Chinese textile imports.

Nearly 84 million items of Chinese-made clothing, like pullovers and bras, have been impounded at customs depots around the union after quota limits agreed with China in June quickly hit their ceilings.

But Mandelson, who has said he wants to release the stranded clothing, appeared to be in a tough spot on Thursday. Retailers in Europe say they need the garments to prevent shortages and sharp price increases this fall. But France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Greece and Poland have large textile producers demanding protection from the surge in Chinese imports. Together they could block any move to free the clothes.

“Goods held at the border must be unblocked, and I hope member states will accept this and I expect them to do so,” Mandelson said at a news conference. He added, “I hope I persuaded them.”

But there was little sign of that. Italy, one of the union’s biggest textile producers and the loudest voice in the fight for protection from inexpensive Chinese clothing, is also the country with the biggest piles of blocked apparel at its customs warehouses. Last week, it had more than nine million Chinese-made pullovers and nearly four million pairs of men’s trousers essentially in limbo.

FBI Drops Bullet Test

By Eric Lichtblau


FBI scientists said on Thursday that they would abandon a controversial bullet-matching technique that had been used in thousands of investigations.

The FBI said it still had confidence in the scientific reliability of the technique, which is known as bullet lead analysis and analyzes the chemical composition of a bullet. But in light of criticism of how the results were interpreted in court, the FBI said it would stop conducting the tests.

The bureau’s laboratory in Quantico, Va., is the only one in the country that performs the analysis, an expensive process that seeks to determine how a particular bullet found at a crime scene compares with other bullets in the possession of a suspect.

A major study last year by the National Research Council found that bureau’s examiners had sometimes overstated the test results in concluding that a bullet had come from a certain box or batch of ammunition.

Israel and Pakistan Foreign Ministers Meet

By Steven Erlanger and Salman Masood


The foreign ministers of Israel and Pakistan met publicly for the first time on Thursday, a diplomatic breakthrough brokered by Turkey that appeared to be the first payoff for the Israeli pullout from the occupied Gaza Strip.

A jubilant Silvan Shalom, the Israeli foreign minister, called the meeting at an Istanbul hotel “historic” and “a huge breakthrough.”

Shalom said: “This is the time for all Muslim and Arab countries to reconsider their relations with Israel. We think it will be a very positive signal to Israeli and Palestinian public opinion that there are some fruits from this withdrawal from Gaza.”