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Ex-spy chief targets Islamists in warning

CAIRO (AP) -- Hosni Mubarak's former spy chief said Thursday he decided to run for president to prevent Islamists from turning Egypt into a "religious state," and warned the country would be internationally isolated if one of them won the presidency.

Omar Suleiman's comments came just hours before the Islamist-dominated parliament passed a bill that strips senior Mubarak regime figures of their political rights for 10 years. The bill was hurriedly put together this week in a bid to disqualify Suleiman, who briefly served as Mubarak's vice president, from running for president. The law would only come into effect if the military council that took over from Mubarak when he stepped down 14 months ago ratifies it.

The election is shaping into a showdown between Suleiman and Islamists led by the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, which announced March 31 that its deputy leader, Khairat el-Shater, would run. The Brotherhood and other Islamists plan a large protest today against Suleiman's candidacy. The presidential election is due on May 23-24.


Stolen Cezanne work recovered; 4 arrested

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) -- Police from Serbia and Switzerland have recovered a Paul Cezanne masterpiece that was stolen from a Swiss museum in 2008 and captured four men as they were trying to sell it, officials said Thursday.

During a news conference in Belgrade, officials played a video showing how police had arrested one of the four suspects in a Belgrade suburb and found the painting in the roof upholstery of a black van, handcuffed the driver and dragged him away. Officials displayed "The Boy in the Red Vest" by the French impressionist, with two masked Serbian special policemen armed with machine guns standing alongside of it.

A Swiss expert authenticated the oil on canvas painting, which was stolen from the E.G. Buhrle Collection in Zurich. The work was worth $110 million when it was stolen by three masked gunmen who witnesses said spoke German with a Slavic accent in what was one of the biggest art thefts in Europe at the time.


Lawmakers OK plan for U.S. partnership

ISLAMABAD (AP) -- Pakistan's parliament on Thursday unanimously approved new guidelines for the country in its troubled relationship with the United States, a decision that could pave the way for the reopening of supply lines to NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan.

The guidelines allow for the blockade on U.S. and NATO supplies to be lifted, but also call for an immediate end to American drone strikes against militants on Pakistani soil. However, the lawmakers did not make a halt in the CIA-led missile attacks a prerequisite to reopening the supply lines, as some lawmakers had been demanding.

The government and the army will use the recommendations as the basis for re-engaging with Washington.