UAE lobbied against UN bid
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The United Arab Emirates lobbied against Canada’s bid for a UN Security Council seat in the latest blow to relations that soured after disputes over airline routes, a UAE official said Thursday.
The Gulf country’s opposition followed harsh complaints about Canada’s refusal to open more flights for the fast-growing carriers Emirates and Etihad. The government in Abu Dhabi is also forcing Canada to leave a military base that is used to supply Canadian forces in Afghanistan.
Earlier this week, Canada pulled out of the race for one of the non-permanent Security Council seats after falling behind rivals in the first rounds of voting. The defeat was seen as a significant setback for a G-7 economic power.
The UAE official said the opposition was based on Canada’s “protectionist” trade policies and perceptions that Ottawa is weak on supporting Arab causes in the region, including efforts to ease the Israeli restrictions on Palestinians in Gaza.
It’s unclear how much the UAE could have swayed UN sentiments against Canada, but the country carries influence beyond its small size because of extensive international business ties.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of standing government rules on behind-the-scenes briefings.
The UAE has pushed hard to expand nonstop flights to Canada to serve major Indian and Pakistani markets, which have significant family and business ties to North America. Dubai-based Emirates and Etihad in Abu Dhabi each run three flights a week to Canada and are aggressively seeking to expand long-haul flights.
But Air Canada argues there is no need for more flights from the UAE and says it can handle the south Asian traffic through alliances.
Ahmadinejad tauts Israel from Lebanon
BINT JBEIL, Lebanon — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad taunted archenemy Israel Thursday from just across the tense border in southern Lebanon where he rallied tens of thousands of supporters of ally Hezbollah as Israeli attack helicopters buzzed in the skies nearby.
Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly said Israel should be wiped off the map and denied the Holocaust, vowed that “resistance” forces will liberate Palestinians from Israeli control. The U.S. and Israel called his visit a provocation.
“The world should know that Zionists will perish,” he said at a rally in the border village of Bint Jbeil, which was one of the hardest-hit areas in the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah war. It has since been rebuilt with the help of heavy investments from Iran.
“Occupied Palestine will be liberated from the filth of occupation by the strength of resistance and through the faith of the resistance,” Ahmandinejad said to the crowd waving a sea of Lebanese, Iranian and Hezbollah flags.
The Iranian leader arrived in Lebanon on Wednesday to a rapturous welcome organized by the powerful Shiite militant group Hezbollah for his first state visit since he became president in 2005. The visit has turned into a show of force by Hezbollah, which shares power in a fragile unity government with a Western-backed coalition.
Pakistan foils murder plot
MULTAN, Pakistan — Pakistani police arrested a group of Islamist militants plotting to kill the prime minister in a gun and suicide bomb attack at his house, officials said Thursday. The seven men also are accused of targeting other government leaders for assassination.
Militants in Pakistan have frequently attacked government officials, security officers and political leaders as part of a campaign to destabilize the U.S.-allied government and take over the state. Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was killed in a gun-and-bomb attack near Islamabad in 2007.
The conspiracy against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was nearly complete, police officials said.