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Syria invites envoy n slaying probe


BEIRUT -- Syria yesterday invited the chief UN envoy investigating the assassination of former premier Rafik Hariri of Lebanon to visit the country, only days after the United Nations accused Damascus of failing to fully cooperate. Syria's decision, revealed in a terse dispatch by its official news agency SANA, came as the interrogation resumed yesterday of four pro-Syrian Lebanese generals named by top UN investigator Detlev Mehlis as suspects in Hariri's Feb. 14 murder. UN investigators also questioned the leader of the Lebanese chapter of Syria's ruling Ba'ath Party, former Lebanese labor minister Assem Kanso, and visited the party's Beirut offices yesterday. Anti-Syrian groups in Lebanon have accused Syria and its Lebanese allies in the then pro-Damascus government of involvement in Hariri's killing. Both have denied any involvement. (AP)


Armed men attack and rob aid convoy

KHARTOUM -- Armed men attacked and robbed an aid convoy traveling in western Darfur and threatened to kill aid workers if they used the same route again, a senior official with one of the aid groups involved said yesterday. The attack on Thursday in the Masteri area, southwest of El Geneina, was the most serious in a recent spate of attacks against aid vehicles in Sudan's Darfur region, where rebel groups are fighting the government. Rampant banditry has hit aid operations in Sudan's Darfur region where around 3 million people rely on aid for survival, aid officials have said. (Reuters)


Hussein's daughter announces defense

AMMAN -- Saddam Hussein's daughter said yesterday she has worked out strategy for the defense of Iraq's ousted leader, including a media campaign and a new team of international lawyers for the trial's expected start next month. Raghad Saddam Hussein said the plan was drafted after three days of consultations in the Jordanian capital of Amman with legal consultants from Iraq, Jordan, Yemen, Sudan, and Lebanon. She made the announcement a day after an Iraqi official in Baghdad said authorities have set Oct. 19 as the start date for Hussein's trial, four days after a planned referendum on the new constitution. (AP)


3 freed in teen's disappearance

SAINT NICOLAAS -- All three suspects in the disappearance of an Alabama teenager were released from jail yesterday in a setback for the prosecution and the biggest blow yet to Natalee Holloway's family. Joran van der Sloot, an 18-year-old Dutchman, and two Surinamese brothers, Satish Kalpoe, 18 and Deepak Kalpoe, 21, were released on condition they remain in Dutch territory and be available to police for questioning. The Kalpoe brothers emerged from prison dressed in jeans and accompanied by their lawyers. ''It's a happy day for the Kalpoe family," said David Kock, an attorney for Satish. (AP)


Resolve to refer Iran to UN grows

VIENNA -- United States and European resolve to bring Iran before the United Nations Security Council grew yesterday following disclosures that Tehran had recently produced about seven tons of the gas it needs to enrich uranium -- a possible pathway to a nuclear weapon. The International Atomic Energy Agency said that Iran had pumped out that amount of uranium hexafluoride gas since resuming conversion from uranium ore last month. The gas can be spun by centrifuges into enriched uranium. Iran insists it wants to enrich only to generate electricity. (AP)

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