Other items: Cartoon latest in row between Cuba, U.S. and Uranium returned to Russia for security.

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Saudi Arabia announced yesterday it was withdrawing its ambassador to Libya and ordered out Libya’s envoy in response to reports that Tripoli plotted to assassinate the Saudi crown prince.

The alleged plot against Crown Prince Abdullah was first outlined by U.S. investigators in their case against a prominent American Muslim activist sentenced earlier this year to the maximum 23 years in prison for illegal business dealings with Libya.

Americans were banned from doing business with Libya at the time of the contacts.

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U.S. prosecutors said Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi wanted Abdullah killed after a March 2003 Arab League Summit during which the two exchanged sharp insults.


Havana


Cartoon latest in row between Cuba, U.S.

Cuban art students and cartoonists painted an American eagle cartoon yesterday on the asphalt of Havana’s coastal highway so cars can drive over it as they pass the U.S. diplomatic mission, the latest salvo in a spat over pro-dissident Christmas decorations hung by the Americans.

Police closed off two blocks of the highway as the students drew the colorful cartoon.

The row began last week when James Cason, chief of the U.S. Interests Section, ignored orders by the Cuban government to remove Christmas decorations including a sign reading “75” — a reference to 75 Cuban dissidents arrested in a crackdown last year.

Cuban officials charged that the imprisoned dissidents got money from U.S. officials to undermine the island’s government.


Washington


Uranium returned to Russia for security

About 13 pounds of highly enriched uranium was returned to Russia from a research facility in the Czech Republic yesterday, the Energy Department announced. The transfer was part of an international program to better secure material that terrorists could use in a nuclear weapon.

The uranium will be blended down so it is no longer suitable for weapons use. Russia originally had provided the uranium for use in a research reactor in Rez, just north of Prague.

Over the past 2-1/2 years, some 218 pounds of Russian-provided uranium has been returned from Romania, Bulgaria, Libya and Uzbekistan and Serbia.

Also

Two jetliners, together carrying more than 300 passengers, came close to colliding over eastern Pakistan yesterday until one aircraft abruptly swerved 700 feet, an airline official said. Two people were injured in the maneuver.

Japan reported its first case of bird flu in a human yesterday — a man who got the disease from birds.

Russia successfully test-fired a heavy intercontinental ballistic missile yesterday in a launch intended to extend the lifetime of aging Soviet-built weapons.

Sudanese government troops attacking a town in the country’s volatile Darfur region shot dead an aid worker in front of a warehouse used by the international medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres, the organization charged yesterday.

Australia will deploy an extra 100 troops to the troubled Solomon Islands, where armed gangs took a stranglehold on the country, after one of its peacekeepers was shot dead yesterday.