- Assailants blow up Egypt gas pipeline to Israel, Jordan
- Saudi Arabia urges world to accept Palestinians' U.N. bid
- Strauss-Kahn claims diplomatic immunity in lawsuit
Posted: 26 Sep 2011 08:45 PM PDT
ISMAILIYA, Egypt (Reuters) - Unknown assailants blew up an Egyptian pipeline in Sinai on Tuesday that supplies Israel and Jordan with gas, security sources and witnesses said.
A witness told investigators he saw three men jump out of a small truck at a pumping station in an area known as al-Maidan, southwest of the city of el-Arish, and open fire on the pipeline, the security sources said.
This was followed by a large explosion heard across the city and witnesses said 15-metre high flames could be seen shooting up from the pipeline.
A local hospital said one man was admitted with burns from the blast, which also set olive groves and shacks in the area on fire. Fire brigades were bringing the flames under control after the company operating the pipeline cut off the gas supply.
Since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February the pipeline has been repeatedly blown up by assailants believed to be opposed to selling Egyptian gas to Israel.
The last attack occurred in July when men with machine guns in a small truck forced guards at a station out and blew it up.
The extent of the damage caused by Tuesday's blast and the effect on gas supplies to Israel and Jordan was not immediately clear.
Egypt has been trying to charge Israel and Jordan more for its gas after complaining that prices fixed during Mubarak's rule were below market rates.
The pipeline is run by Gasco, Egypt's gas transport company which is a subsidiary of the national gas company EGAS.
The Egyptian armed forces launched a security operation in Sinai in August to root out hundreds of suspected militants believed to be behind some of the attacks on the pipeline and police compounds in the peninsula.
Security sources said then that they had captured a group of four Islamist militants as they prepared to blow up the gas pipeline in el-Arish.
(Writing by Sami Aboudi; editing by David Stamp)
Copyright © 2011 Reuters
Posted: 26 Sep 2011 08:45 PM PDT
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal urged the United Nations on Monday to accept the Palestinians' request for full membership in the world body and to recognize it as an independent state.
"As a result of the continued Israeli intransigence and disruption of the peace process, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia calls upon all member states of the United Nations to state of Palestine on the border of June 4, 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital, and to grant it full membership of the United Nations," Faisal said.
The Saudi foreign minister did not appear in person to give his speech. His statement was issued in written form at the end of Monday's speeches at the annual U.N. General Assembly session in New York.
Faisal's comments will add to the pressure on Washington, which has vowed to veto the Palestinian U.N. membership application that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivered to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday.
The U.N. Security Council will meet on Wednesday to hand the issue to a committee that will review and assess the Palestinian application. Abbas has said he wants the council to make a decision within weeks, but Western diplomats say that the process could take much longer.
On the topic of the Arab Spring pro-democracy movements across the Middle East and North Africa, Faisal reiterated the kingdom's "condemnation of military operations against the defenseless people in sisterly Syria."
He also called on "all parties in brotherly Yemen to clearly announce their full commitment to implement the peaceful transition to power as stipulated in the Gulf initiative in order to swiftly end the serious Yemeni crisis."
(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; editing by Doina Chiacu)
Copyright © 2011 Reuters
Posted: 26 Sep 2011 07:44 PM PDT
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lawyers for former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn asked a judge on Monday to dismiss a civil suit filed by a hotel maid who accused him of sexual assault, asserting that the onetime French presidential hopeful had diplomatic immunity.
Strauss-Kahn was cleared of all criminal charges that he forced Guinean immigrant Nafissatou Diallo to perform oral sex in a New York luxury suite on May 14, but he still faces the civil suit plus a separate allegation by a woman in France.
The motion to dismiss, filed in New York state Supreme Court in the Bronx, where the woman lived, also claimed her "false charges" significantly impaired the International Monetary Fund's "ability to serve its critical function ... at a time of worldwide financial crisis and instability."
But the central argument asserted the Frenchman was immune from such a suit under international law when it was filed in early August, and lawyers asked the judge to throw the case out in its entirety.
The suit filed by attorney William Taylor, who was also part of Strauss-Kahn's criminal defense team, argued that his position as IMF managing director granted him diplomatic immunity that extended even after his resignation and until he was free to return to France.
Strauss-Kahn returned home to Paris late last month when prosecutors decided to abandon their pursuit of sexual assault and rape charges against him because they had lost faith in Diallo's credibility.
"This court must dismiss the complaint against defendant Dominique Strauss-Kahn because, under controlling international law that all federal and state courts are bound to apply, Mr. Strauss-Kahn was immune from civil suit," the motion said.
NOT A DIPLOMAT
Diallo's lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, immediately rejected that argument.
"This baseless motion is another desperate attempt to avoid having to answer for the deplorable acts he committed against Ms. Diallo," Thompson wrote in an email. "Strauss-Kahn's claim of diplomatic immunity will clearly fail because: (1) he is not a diplomat; (2) according to his own story he was in New York on 'personal' business; (3) he, not the IMF, paid for his room at the Sofitel; and (4) he was obviously acting in his personal capacity when he violently attacked Ms. Diallo."
The scandal blew up in the midst of a growing debt crisis in Greece and Strauss-Kahn was instrumental in convincing European policymakers to agree to financing to help Athens. The crisis has escalated and threatens to slow global growth.
A grand jury had indicted Strauss-Kahn, but prosecutors later asked a judge to drop the criminal charges because they no longer found the 32-year-old Diallo credible, and the judge dismissed the case.
While her account of the assault remained steadfast, Diallo told a series of lies about her past and about what happened immediately after the incident in the $3,000-a-night suite in New York's Sofitel hotel, prosecutors said. Despite the dismissal of criminal charges, the civil suit remains viable because civil actions require a lesser burden of proof.
In a separate motion, his lawyers also demanded that sections of the lawsuit alleging Strauss-Kahn assaulted other women be stricken, as well as claims that he and his defense team "smeared" Diallo's character."
"The allegations are nothing more than an attempt to embarrass Mr. Strauss-Kahn, open the door to harassing and irrelevant discovery, and ultimately instill undue prejudice in the jury," the motion said.
Strauss-Kahn, 62, had been a favorite to run as the next president of France before he was hauled from a first-class seat on a flight from New York to Paris and arrested on May 14. He resigned from the IMF four days later, his political plans in tatters.
In addition to the civil suit, he still faces a separate inquiry in France from a writer who says Strauss-Kahn forced himself on her during a 2003 interview.
Strauss-Kahn strongly denied sexual assault from the start and in a recent interview with French television apologized to his country for an encounter he called "moral error" that was consensual. He also vowed to stay out of the Socialist Party's 2012 election campaign in France.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; editing by Daniel Trotta and Anthony Boadle)
Copyright © 2011 Reuters
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