1. VATICAN, ISRAEL IN TERROR TIFF…The Vatican has published a statement defending Pope Benedict XVI for not listing Israel as a victim of terror in a recent address. The release from the Vatican follows Israel’s criticism that the Pope failed to mention Israel as a victim of terror when he recently condemned terror attacks around the world. The response from Rome pointed out that it is difficult to condemn Palestinian acts of violence, when Israel often retaliates. Israel’s Foreign Ministry has asked the papal representative in the country to explain the Vatican’s omission. The Vatican’s statement stressed no one can tell the Pope what to say.
2. U.S. REPEATS CONCERN OVER SYRIA…Syria continues to maintain a presence in Lebanon and to have influence over its neighbor, United States Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch has told Congress. He accused Damascus of retaining intelligence officers in Lebanon, despite having told the world it withdrew all military personnel from Lebanon earlier this year. Welch said Damascus is using tactics including intimidation, violence and economic strangulation to retain control of Lebanon.
3. MUBARAK CALLS FOR ARAB SUMMIT…Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is calling for a meeting of Arab leaders next week in Sharm A-Sheikh. The town in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula was hit by a terror attack a week ago, in which some 90 people were killed and more than 200 injured. Mubarak indicated on Thursday that his country will follow Western capitals in introducing new tough anti-terrorism laws. He said the new laws would replace the state of emergency, which has existed in Egypt for the last 24 years.