Bhutto murder probe requested

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistan's government said yesterday it is ready to ask the United Nations to investigate the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, a move opposed by President Pervez Musharraf.

Law Minister Farooq Naek said officials had finalized a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asking for the probe. Naek said he and Pakistan's foreign minister would carry the letter to U.N. headquarters in New York "very soon," once Ban gives them an appointment.

The previous pro-Musharraf administration, as well as the CIA, named Baitullah Mehsud, a Pakistani militant, as the chief suspect in Bhutto's assassination. But Bhutto had accused high-ranking serving and former officials of plotting to kill her.

- AP

Argentine seeks ex-leader's arrest

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - A prosecutor yesterday sought the arrest of former President Carlos Menem, accusing him of covering up the possible involvement of a Syrian-Argentine businessman in the 1994 car-bombing of a Jewish community center that killed 85 people.

Prosecutor Alberto Nisman asked the Senate to withdraw Menem's immunity from prosecution as a member of that chamber. Menem, who governed from 1989 to 1999, said the allegation was "a libelous and nasty fable."

In his petition to a judge, the prosecutor said Menem and his aides tried to cover up the possible role of Alberto Jacinto Kanoore Edul in the blast. Prosecutors accuse Iranian officials of organizing the attack but say Argentines were also involved.

- AP

Mixed reaction to Georgian election

TBILISI, Georgia - President Mikhail Saakashvili's pro-West ruling party emerged from Wednesday's parliamentary election with a big majority, but election observers gave the vote a mixed report yesterday, and the opposition refused to concede.

"These elections were not perfect, but since I was here in January for the presidential election . . . substantial progress has been made," said Joao Soares, head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe mission in Georgia.

Saakashvili, a U.S.-educated lawyer, wants to move Georgia out of Russia's shadow. But a violent crackdown on opposition protesters in November gave NATO pause as it considers whether to start Georgia on the path to membership - a bid that has angered Russia.

- AP

Elsewhere:

Two Swedish

maintenance workers arrested after an explosives scare at a nuclear plant were released yesterday; police said they were no longer considered a threat.