World Briefs: Assad issues amnesty decree

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BEIRUT — Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad of Syria is­sued a de­cree Mon­day grant­ing “a gen­eral am­nesty” for all crimes ex­cept for “acts of ter­ror­ism,” Syr­ian state tele­vi­sion re­ported, rais­ing ten­ta­tive hopes among Syr­i­ans with rel­a­tives in de­ten­tion.

The gov­ern­ment has of­fered am­nes­ties be­fore that did not lead to the re­lease of the tens of thou­sands of peo­ple whom hu­man rights ad­vo­cates say have been de­tained or im­pris­oned dur­ing the un­rest in the coun­try. But the tim­ing of the lat­est de­cree came just af­ter As­sad won a new term in of­fice.

Op­po­nents and Western of­fi­cials dis­missed the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion on June 3 as a farce.

Re­ports about the am­nesty in the Syr­ian state news me­dia did not say spe­cif­i­cally whether it would af­fect the many Syr­i­ans who, by the rights ad­vo­cates’ ac­counts, are be­ing held with­out charge for po­lit­i­cal rea­sons or have been charged with of­fenses like de­liv­er­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian aid to op­po­si­tion-con­trolled ar­eas or at­tend­ing pro­tests.

Iran, Tur­key boost ties

ISTANBUL — Tur­key may buy more Ira­nian nat­u­ral gas if a price dis­pute can be set­tled, Prime Min­is­ter Re­cep Tayyip Er­dogan said af­ter talks with Has­san Rou­hani, the first Ira­nian pres­i­dent to visit Tur­key in 18 years.

Mr. Er­dogan said he and Mr. Rou­hani dis­cussed gas pric­ing dur­ing a meet­ing in Ankara Mon­day, and asked en­ergy min­is­ters from the two coun­tries to keep work­ing on it. Tur­key filed a com­plaint to the In­ter­na­tional Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion in 2012 over the price of the gas it im­ports from Iran.

Mr. Rou­hani is seek­ing to re­con­nect Iran with the world econ­omy af­ter a de­cade of iso­la­tion. Trade with neigh­bor­ing Tur­key plunged last year as a re­sult of U.S.-led sanc­tions. The coun­tries have also sparred over Syria, where they’re sup­port­ing dif­fer­ent sides in the civil war.

Bill OK’s force-feed­ing

JERUSALEM — With nearly 300 Pal­es­tin­ian pris­on­ers on ex­tended hun­ger strikes and doz­ens hos­pi­tal­ized, Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­ja­min Netan­yahu is press­ing for speedy pas­sage of leg­is­la­tion that would au­tho­rize force-feed­ing if an in­mate’s health is in grave dan­ger.

The bill is op­posed by the Is­raeli Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion, which calls it a vi­o­la­tion of med­i­cal eth­ics, and by a gov­ern­ment-ap­pointed panel that said in a state­ment that the leg­is­la­tion’s pro­vi­sions “con­tra­dict the prin­ci­ples of bio­eth­ics and should be re­jected out­right.”

The bill passed its first hur­dle in the Is­raeli Par­lia­ment on Mon­day, which voted to send it to a com­mit­tee. It must be ap­proved twice more be­fore be­com­ing law.

Cer­vantes’ bones

MADRID — Sci­en­tists search­ing for the re­mains of Miguel de Cer­vantes in Ma­drid, au­thor of the novel “Don Qui­xote,” have de­tected bones in five ar­eas near his burial site, a fo­ren­sic iden­ti­fi­ca­tion team said Mon­day.

The re­search­ers said that ev­i­dence of bone re­mains had been found through geo-ra­dar tech­nol­ogy in the Con­vent of Bare­foot Trin­i­tar­i­ans, where the fa­mous au­thor was bur­ied in 1616.

They may soon be able to con­firm whether any of them be­longed to him.

The ex­act where­abouts of Cer­vantes’ re­mains is un­clear be­cause the burial records are lost.

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