Arab League asks nations to back resolution on Israel

Ignoring a U.S. warning, Arab nations are urging Washington and other powers to end support of Israel’s nuclear secrecy and to push the Jewish state to allow international inspections of its program, diplomats said Sunday.

Islamic nations have long called on Israel — which is widely believed to have nuclear arms — to open its program. But the fact that the Arab League has directly approached Washington and other Israeli allies for support at the September meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency is significant, considering that President Obama last month warned against using that forum to single out Israel.

The Arab appeal is contained in an Aug. 8 letter signed by Arab League chief Amr Moussa. It asks for backing of a resolution that Arab nations will submit to the assembly of the IAEA.

Diplomats accredited to the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency and familiar with the issue said that the letter also was sent to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the foreign ministers of Russia, China, Britain and France — the four other permanent U.N. Security Council members.

All the diplomats who agreed to discuss the issue asked for anonymity because of the confidentiality of their information.


Bomb threat at shrine forces evacuation of 30,000 people

Thousands of people, many disabled or ailing, were evacuated Sunday from the shrine at Lourdes in southern France after a bomb threat on the Catholic holy day of Assumption. The pilgrims returned after explosives experts scoured the area.

Some 30,000 pilgrims were at the site, whose spring water is reputed to have healing powers, when Lourdes police received an anonymous threat late in the morning saying bombs would hit the site Sunday afternoon, said the shrine’s chief spokesman, Pierre Adias.

Authorities ordered everyone evacuated just as a midday Mass was supposed to begin.

About 900 gravely ill pilgrims were taken to a secure place while explosives experts with sniffer dogs fanned out around the shrine, Lourdes Mayor Jean-Pierre Artiganave said on France-Info radio.


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