NEWS

In Brief

MIDDLE EAST

Israeli and Palestinian extremism a threat to peace, Papandreou says Israel’s targeted killing of militants and Palestinian suicide bombings are threatening the Middle East peace process, Foreign Minister George Papandreou told Reuters yesterday after talks in Jordan with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. «They (the Israelis) have at times destroyed infrastructure that was necessary for the Palestinians to maintain security in their own region,» he added in an interview with the agency, stressing, however, that the appointment of the new Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, was an opportunity (for the Israelis) to move the peace process forward. «He (Abbas) must be helped,» Papandreou said. Cafe explosion A strong explosion caused by a gas leak in a cafe in the village of Afidnes, on the northeastern outskirts of Athens, yesterday morning caused severe damage to the ground floor premises and to eight cars parked nearby but no one was injured. The explosion occurred following a leak from two gas canisters in the basement of the cafe, according to explosives experts who inspected the scene of the blast. The cafe owner told police he had never changed the rubber seals on the gas canisters.