World Report

ISTANBUL, Turkey (JPS) — Israel and Greece have agreed to conduct joint naval exercises by the end of the year as part of an Israeli effort to defuse opposition to its military cooperation with Turkey, Israeli officials said.

Israel and Greece signed an accord for naval exercises 18 months ago, but never implemented the agreement, Israeli officials said last week. But to assuage Athens, concerned over the increasing Israeli military ties to its longtime rival Turkey, Israel recently proposed to Greece that they conduct joint naval maneuvers.

Greece agreed, Israeli officials said, and the exercises will be held in the eastern Mediterranean.

President Ezer Weizman, who wrapped up a two-day visit to Istanbul last week, also called on Egypt to consider joint air exercises with Israel. The government of President Hosni Mubarak has been a vocal opponent of the Israeli-Turkish military cooperation.

"If Egypt wants to exercise with our air force, Ahlan WaSahlan [they are welcome]," Weizman said.

France slams Israel for holding reporter

PARIS (JTA) — France has protested Israel's seizure of a Lebanese journalist who was working for Agence France-Presse in southern Lebanon.

Ali Dia, 40, was arrested by Israeli forces June 13 and taken to Israel for interrogation after security officials from the Israel-allied South Lebanon Army summoned him to their headquarters in Marjayoun, Lebanon.

"The arrest of a journalist because of his professional activity would clearly be a serious breach of press freedom, a breach we could only condemn," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Jacques Rummelhardt.

Israel said it was holding Dia on suspicion of aiding the Islamic fundamentalist Hezbollah group, though Hezbollah denied any links to the reporter.

An AFP spokesperson said Dia, a Shi'ite Muslim based in the southern Lebanon port city of Sidon, had not been heard from since his arrest.

Dia also works for Beirut-based Future Television, owned by Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and the Lebanese leftist daily As-Safeer.

Argentina to pay Iran for no nukes

BUENOS AIRES (JTA) — Argentina will pay Iran a $5.5 million fine for the cancellation of a $48 million nuclear technology contract that featured the construction in Iran of a reactor with uranium-refining capabilities, official sources have said.

Argentina reportedly settled the case out of court after negotiations that were "hard and unfriendly," sources said last week.

In early February 1992, the Argentine government stopped the shipment of the small nuclear reactor to Tehran under pressure from the United States and Israel.

The Argentine-built reactor was part of a bilateral contract, which included other provisions, such as lowering the levels of enriched-uranium at the core of the Tehran University research reactor.