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Briefs (right)

Rare Armenian-Turkish Unity
At Slain Editor’s Funeral

By Sebnem Arsu and Susanne Fowler

More than 50,000 mourners, including senior Turkish and Armenian officials in a rare display of unity, poured into the heart of Istanbul on Tuesday to bid farewell to Hrant Dink, the Turkish-Armenian journalist who was gunned down outside his offices last week, a death that many Turks hoped would be a catalyst for change.

The Armenian patriarch, Archbishop Mesrob Mutafyan, spoke out during Dink’s funeral against curbs on freedom of expression and encouraged the thaw in relations between Armenia and Turkey that has become evident since the slaying.

“It is unacceptable to judge and imprison someone because of his thoughts, let alone to kill him,” Mesrob said during the hourlong service at the Holy Mother of God Armenian Patriarchal Church. “It is mystical that his funeral turned into an occasion where Armenian and Turkish officials gathered together.”

Diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia were frozen and their border closed in 1993 after years of grievances, chiefly over the mass deaths of Armenians at Turkish hands in 1915, during World War I. Many scholars and most Western governments accept that more than a million Armenians died in what they describe as a genocide, but Turkey says there were deaths on both sides and that they were the unfortunate result of the war. But on Tuesday, in what was widely regarded as an important symbolic step, Turkish and Armenian officials appeared at Dink’s funeral services.

Lack of a Budget Could Stall
Nuclear Power Revival

By Matthew L. Wald

The senior member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission warned Monday that the failure of Congress to pass a detailed budget for the current fiscal year could damage the nuclear renaissance that the government tried so hard to encourage with the energy bill of 2005.

No one has applied for permission to build a power reactor since the 1970s. But with the incentives offered by the federal government in 2005, utilities are considering building about 20 reactors, and several of them are expected to apply for authorization this year.

The commission member, Edward McGaffigan Jr., said that if the commission received applications this year, “we basically are going to have to put them on the shelf, because we’re not going to have the folks to work on the applications until well into calendar year 2008.”

The Republican-controlled Congress passed only two of the 11 spending bills for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, 2006, those covering the Pentagon and the Homeland Security Department. The rest of the government has been operating under a “continuing resolution,” a stopgap measure that finances most agencies at the previous year’s levels. Democrats say they plan to extend that resolution through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.

According to the nuclear commission, under a continuing resolution its budget would be lower by $95 million, or about 12 percent, compared with the level approved by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees but never by the full Congress.

Senators Say Two Resolutions
On Troop Plan Should Merge

By Carl Hulse and Jeff Zeleny

Senate critics of President Bush’s troop buildup in Iraq suggested Tuesday that competing resolutions opposing the plan should be merged in an effort to attract the largest bloc of senators in a strong statement of congressional dissent.

As they prepared for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to consider the issue on Wednesday, both Democrats and Republicans said that the two bipartisan resolutions are in fundamental agreement on objecting to the troop increase.

“The resolutions are so close in terms of the key issue: Whether or not we support an increase in military involvement and increasing the number of troops in Iraq or not,” said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who is the chairman of the Armed Services Committee and a co-author of one proposal. “There are other language issues, obviously, but they are not particularly significant. The likeness and the similarities far, far, far outweigh any language differences.”

Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, said a hybrid version of the resolutions would produce a clearer sign of the depth of opposition to the president’s plan than either of the proposals could individually. “The bottom line is that the situation we have is unacceptable and both resolutions clearly indicate that,” Reid said.

Group Says Chechen Police
Are Probed in Journalist’s Killing

By C.J. Chivers

Police officials in Chechnya are under criminal investigation for a possible role in the killing of Anna Politkovskaya, a prominent Russian journalist, a New York-based news media rights group said here on Tuesday.

The assertion, by the Committee to Protect Journalists, cast fresh attention on the possibility of an official role in a crime that was roundly condemned in the West, and drew a series of swift denials from Russian and pro-Kremlin Chechen officials.

Politkovskaya, a correspondent for the independent liberal newspaper Novaya Gazeta, was killed in her apartment building in October, apparently in a contract murder.

She had written pointedly against the Kremlin under President Vladimir V. Putin, and often exposed abuses by Russian forces and the Kremlin’s proxies in Chechnya, the Russian republic that has suffered a separatist war, banditry and an insurgency influenced by militant Islamic fighters. Her final article, published posthumously, made further allegations that Chechen police officers had tortured people in custody, and fueled speculation that she may have been killed to prevent its publication or as a punishment for her reporting.