Rafah, Gaza Strip Hundreds of Palestinian troops sealed off Gaza’s border with Egypt on Sunday, ending a weeklong free-for-all along the frontier that angered Israeli officials and undermined Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ efforts to bring Gaza under control.
Palestinian officials called on Israel to allow them to open the official border crossing at Rafah – which Israel closed before it pulled out of Gaza last week – and sent teams of technicians to install X-ray machines and lay electrical lines in the closed terminal.
Meanwhile, thousands of Hamas supporters flooded downtown Gaza City for a military-style victory parade. Thousands of masked gunmen led the march down a main Gaza boulevard. About a dozen gunmen rappelled down the side of a 10-story building, unrolling huge green Hamas flags along the way.
U.N. to end food aid to North Korea
Beijing The United Nations will end a decade of emergency food shipments to North Korea by January at the request of the impoverished nation’s government, which says it has enough food coming from other sources, a U.N. official said Sunday.
Richard Ragan, head of the World Food Program’s office in Pyongyang, told the Associated Press the agency will focus on development projects in North Korea. Discussions are continuing with donors to find support for the shift, he said in a telephone interview while in Beijing.
North Korea has made requests to halt emergency food aid in the past, and Ragan said officials for the communist regime told him they believed they are now able to meet their food needs.
Putin rules out return to Cold War rivalry
Moscow Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday that it was impossible for Russia to resume its Cold War rivalry with the United States.
“We are not adversaries. We are partners in many areas of international activities,” he said in an interview broadcast by the U.S. broadcaster Fox News.
But Putin reiterated his opposition to a U.S.-European push to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council for consideration of sanctions over its nuclear program. He also said the United States should pull its troops out of Iraq within two years.
Putin was in New York last week for the U.N. world summit and talks with President Bush. He gave the taped interview Friday but it was not broadcast until Sunday.
French official raises citizenship questions
Paris A government minister has questioned the automatic right to citizenship for anyone born on French territory overseas, comments that the opposition Socialist Party called “scandalous.”
Citizenship for anybody born on French soil is widely considered an untouchable right, despite years of debate over how to cope with growing illegal immigration. The immigration issue has previously focused on mainland France – not overseas territories which are part of France.
Francois Baroin, France’s minister for overseas territories, said questioning the right to citizenship for those born on French soil “should no longer be taboo.”
Malek Boutih, in charge of social issues for the Socialist Party, said such a proposal was an “entryway” for questioning citizenship rights for foreigners and their children born in France itself.
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