Peres pledges to back Sharon
Jerusalem Bitter over his ouster as Labor Party chief, Shimon Peres quit his political home of six decades Wednesday to campaign for Ariel Sharon’s new party, saying the prime minister is the best choice to lead Israel to peace with the Palestinians.
Peres’ defection was an important coup for Sharon in the scramble by the major parties to recruit high-profile supporters during a political realignment the past three weeks as the country prepares for elections in March.
Under a reported deal worked out with the prime minister, Peres will support Kadima, the centrist party Sharon formed last week after leaving the hard-line Likud, but he will not officially join the party and he will not run for a seat in parliament, where he has served since 1959.
In return, Sharon – if re-elected – will give Peres a senior post in his next government, possibly putting him in charge of peace talks with the Palestinians and neighboring Arab states.
Belgium arrests 14 terror suspects
Brussels, Belgium Belgium authorities raided homes Wednesday and detained 14 suspects with links to a terrorist network that sent volunteers to Iraq, including a Belgian woman who carried out a suicide attack on an American patrol in Baghdad, officials said.
Belgian authorities “want to dismantle this network, which we knew was on our territory and which aimed to send volunteers for the jihad to the battlefield,” the federal police director, Glenn Audenaert, told reporters.
Audenaert said the members of the network “embraced the ideology of al-Qaida.”
But he was careful not to describe the group as an al-Qaida cell, and it was unclear to what extent, if any, it was linked to Osama bin Laden’s organization.
Peru will sue Yale to recover artifacts
Peru is preparing a lawsuit against Yale University to retrieve artifacts taken nearly a century ago from the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, a government official said Wednesday.
Peru has held discussions in recent years with Yale seeking the return of nearly 5,000 artifacts, including ceramics and human bones that explorer Hiram Bingham dug up during three expeditions to Machu Picchu in 1911, 1912 and 1914.
“Yale considers the collection university property, given the amount of time it has been there,” said Luis Guillermo Lumbreras, chief of Peru’s National Institute of Culture.
“This is something we do not recognize because the pieces were legally granted in a temporary loan.”
Richard Burger, chairman and director of graduate studies at Yale’s Council on Archaeological Studies, did not immediately return telephone messages seeking comment.
Saudi trade group elects two women
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Two businesswomen have become Saudi Arabia’s first female elected officials, a historic step in a deeply conservative country where women are largely barred from public life.
Saudi officials said Wednesday that Lama al-Sulaiman and Nashwa Taher had won election to the board of Jiddah’s chamber of commerce. Little information was available about the two women.
The chamber’s weekend elections were the first polls in Saudi Arabia in which women were allowed to run and to vote.