|Saturday, June 3, 2000,
Clinton, Schroeder differ
Graft charges against Sharif
A treasure trove of Nazi plunder?
8 Tibetan monks arrested
Court rules against Elians
Latin music giant Puente dead
Clinton, Schroeder differ on missiles
BERLIN, June 2 (Reuters) President Bill Clinton and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder have pledged US and German support for new Russian President Vladimir Putin, as Mr Clinton visited Berlin before his first summit with the Kremlin leader.
"We have both agreed that America and Germany have a great interest in a stable partnership with Russia," Mr Schroeder told a brief news conference which followed some two hours of talks yesterday after Mr Clinton flew in from Lisbon.
"Both of us want to support Russias political and economic stabilisation and so make President Putins job easier.
Mr Clintons National Security Adviser Sandy Berger told journalists later that both leaders believed Mr Putin was committed to modernising the Russian economy and, if he succeeded, would help entrench democracy there.
But Mr Schroeder indicated that differences remained over US plans for a missile defence system which Europeans fear may upset disarmament pacts with Moscow and spark a new arms race.
"The President proceeded in a very frank way to present his views on the national missile defence programme and I have stated my concerns," Mr Schroeder said. "We have to be very careful that such a project does not retrigger a renewed arms race."
Mr Berger said Mr Clinton explained to Mr Schroeder he was concerned about how Europe viewed the missile plan, and was taking into account any impact on the arms control regime, but stressed he had to make a decision in terms of national security.
Mr Clinton praised Germany, Washingtons biggest European ally, as a loyal partner.
"The relationship of the USA with Germany has been profoundly important for the past 50 years," he said. "But I think it may well be more important for the next 50."
Addressing one minor thorn in relations, Mr Schroeder, who later continued the discussions with the President at an east Berlin restaurant, said they had agreed to form a task force to help US parents who had complained that German judges discriminated in favour of German ex-spouses in child custody cases.
Germany and other European powers have spoken out against the planned national missile defence (NMD) system for shooting down rogue rockets, arguing it could upset the existing disarmament accords especially the 1972 anti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty with Russia, which Moscow has said it threatens.
Mr Clinton, who arrived from Portugal after meeting European Union leaders and holding hastily arranged West Asia talks in Lisbon with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, is due in Moscow tomorrow for talks with Mr Putin.
"No one can dispute the Americans right to develop what they believe is right for national defence," Mr Schroeder had earlier told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper.
"On the other hand, we are partners in a common alliance."
The paper said the Chancellor was optimistic Washington would accommodate "its allies interests".
There was no mention of Mr Clintons offer, made on Wednesday, to share NMD technology a move analysts have said is unlikely to assuage European fears of damaging relations with Moscow.
Mr Clinton, who promised Mr Barak he would send Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to West Asia next week to promote peace negotiations, will also have less controversial engagements on what is expected to be his last visit to Germany before ending a second and final term next January.
WASHINGTON (Reuters): Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested that the USA and Russia jointly develop a missile shield to protect against nuclear attacks by "rogue states.
Mr Putin told NBC News in an interview on Thursday that he intended to put the idea before President Bill Clinton when the two leaders meet in a summit on Sunday.
"Such mechanisms are possible if we pool our efforts and direct them toward neutralising the threats against the United States, Russia, our allies or Europe in general," Mr Putin told NBC anchor Tom Brokaw in an interview in Moscow.
Graft charges against Sharif
ISLAMABAD, June 2 (PTI) A Pakistani accountability court today formally charged deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a corruption case, even as the Sind High Court admitted an appeal by the prosecution seeking conversion of his life imprisonment sentence into death penalty in a hijacking and terrorism case.
Mr Sharif was present in the accountability court which held its sitting in the heavily fortified historic Attock Fort, some 80 km from here, when charges were framed against him in connection with the private purchase of a Russian MI-6 helicopter in 1993.
The deposed Prime Minister and his former Accountability Bureau chief Saif-ur Rehman, who has also been named in the case, denied the charge on May 12 when they were produced before court.
The prosecution says Mr Sharif has not mentioned the purchase of the helicopter in his income tax returns.
There are 22 prosecution witnesses in the case. Statements of three prosecution witnesses Lt Col Niaz Hussain Siddiqui (retd), Col Mohammad Zareef (retd) and helicopter pilot Sajid Latif could not be recorded today and the judge Farooq Latif fixed June 9 as the next date of hearing.
In a related development, the Sind High Court in Karachi admitted for hearing the prosecutions plea that the life imprisonment awarded to Mr Sharif in the hijacking and terrorism case on April 6 last be enhanced to death penalty.
The court also admitted another prosecution appeal against the acquittal of six others, including Mr Sharifs brother Shahbaz in the case by the anti-terrorism court.
The three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice Syed Saeed Ashhad issued notices to Mr Sharif and the six acquitted persons.
Boat crew open fire, kill 5
BELIZE CITY, June 2 (AP) Halfway through a commuter boat ride, three crew members suddenly opened fire on the captain and passengers, killing at least five persons and throwing surviving women and children overboard, the authorities said.
Three survivors said yesterday they spent 17 hours floating together in the Gulf of Honduras until a fisherman discovered them on Wednesday morning. Others drowned one by one as they waited for rescue.
"They just opened fire like nothing, like crazy. They just shot," said 21-year-old passenger Evelyn Rojas, describing the assault on the boat, "Maria Estela," which had been taking passengers from Guatemala to Belize.
Carrying 10 passengers and a crew of five, the 28-foot skiff left Guatemalas Puerto Barrios on Wednesday afternoon for the trip through the Gulf of Honduras in the Caribbean Sea to Belizes Punta Gorda.
Less than an hour into
the voyage, as the light craft neared Guatemalas
maritime border, the three mutineers grabbed assault
weapons they had hidden under boxes and turned them on
the passengers, the authorities and survivors said.
A treasure trove of Nazi plunder?
VIENNA, June 2 (Reuters) Legend has it that the Nazis stashed in an Alpine lake vast quantities of gold and other priceless booty plundered during their reign of terror.
Rumours that Lake Toplitz in central Austria also harbours the famed gleaming panels from Russias Amber Chamber as well as documents detailing the whereabouts of the Third Reichs assets have long lured bounty hunters into its depths.
Some paid for the treacherous dive with their life. Not one has yet struck gold.
Now an expedition from the USA using the same expert diving outfit which recovered valuables from the Titanic will begin scouring the lake bed and its canyons next week.
The project is the brainchild of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, named after the Austrian who brought 1,100 Nazi war criminals to trial, including Adolf Eichmann, Chief of Operations in the Nazi plan to exterminate European Jewry during World War II.
"We approached the Austrian authorities for permission to dive and to clarify one very, very important issue," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean at the Los Angeles-based centre. "Namely that any documents found down there will become the property of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre."
The thrust of the dive, spearheaded by US broadcaster CBS for its "60 minutes" programme, is to find historical documents from the Nazi era, including fresh clues on the Reichs hidden assets and lists of the whereabouts of Jews.
"Were not in the treasure hunt business. The dive will be a success if we find historic documents everything else will be secondary," the Rabbi added.
Toplitz is nestled in the picturesque Salzkammergut lake district in the province of Styria and within the Totes Gebirge, or dead mountains, range.
The lake is 2 km long, 400 metres wide and 103 metres deep. The water is devoid of oxygen after a depth of 20 metres and becomes increasingly saline while sunlight soon fails to penetrate the murky depths.
Between 1943 and 1945, the Germans exploited the lakes secluded position and deep waters for secret underwater experiments with dynamite and rockets.
As the war drew to an end, the Nazis turned it into a rubbish tip. Treasure hunters have found counterfeit pound notes which were intended to weaken the British economy, as well as false stamps, dynamite, weapons and other war relics.
Rumours of sunken treasure were primed by locals who at the time were hired by the German army to transport heavy loads to the lake shore.
"Based on what they testified, something was definitely submerged in the lake whether its a treasure remains to be seen," said Mr Albrecht Syen, landlord of the local Fischer Hut and custodian of memorabilia from past dives.
"Theres official documentation of a large delivery taken to the lake, but nobody knows what happened to it," he added.
The lake is completely closed to divers, but the government occasionally grants permission to professional organisations. The first official dive was by Germanys Stern magazine in 1959, followed by the Austrian Interior Ministry in 1963.
A German scientific expedition in the 1980s found a treasure of sorts in the abyss a hitherto unknown worm that survives without oxygen.
Photographs taken by divers showing a large crate with Russian script have fed speculation that it contains part of the Amber Chamber, known as the "Eighth Wonder of the World".
The Nazis carted it off to Germany during the war, but more than half a century later the famed gleaming panels of "Northern Gold" are still missing.
Technical expertise for this latest dive is coming from Oceaneering, the worlds biggest operator of remotely operated vehicles for underwater work in offshore oilfields. The deep sea experts provided much of the equipment to locate the Titanic.
According to a provisional schedule, the expedition is split into two parts. In the first a team of five will sketch a map of the lakes bed using a video and sonar equipped remotely operated vehicles. If objects are sighted, then phase two will bring them to the surface.
Local Mayor Josef Amon is optimistic the divers will discover a fair amount due to their advanced technology, which allows them to explore parts of the bed that have yet to be seen and to retrieve any items.
"Past dives saw heaps of crates and war relics on the bed but the recovery has always been very difficult up to now because of the lack of the necessary technology," he said.
8 Tibetan monks arrested
BEIJING, June 2 (AFP) China has arrested eight Tibetan monks on suspicion of plotting to kill a two-year-old boy whom Beijing enthroned as a reincarnation of a "Living Buddha," a Tibetan rights group said yesterday.
The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said in a statement released in Beijing that the arrests happened on May 17, the same day monks of the Reting Monastery in Tibet protested against the illegal selection of the boy by Beijing.
The centre cited information from a former Monastery monk who fled Tibet and arrived in neighbouring Nepal recently.
Following the arrests of the monks, no tourists or other common people were allowed to enter the monastery, the centre said.
China in January enthroned Sonam Phuntsok as "Living Buddha."
Court rules against Elians Miami relatives
MIAMI, June 2 (AP) Elian Gonzalez isnt entitled to an asylum hearing, a court ruled yesterday, in a victory for the Cuban boys father that shook protesters in Miamis Little Havana who have been fighting to keep the 6-year-old in the USA.
The boys Miami relatives had requested that he be granted an asylum hearing with immigration officials. But a federal appeals court in Atlanta yesterday sided with the boys father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, who wants him to return to Cuba.
Under the Atlanta courts ruling, Elian must remain in the USA for 14 days to give his Miami relatives a chance to appeal.
US President Bill Clinton was pleased with the ruling, saying the father is best suited to speak for the Cuban boy. "This is a case about the importance of family and the bond between a father and son," Clinton said in a statement from Berlin, where he was on a weeklong European tour.
In Miami, some in a crowd of about 100 outside the Little Havana home of Elians relatives fell to the ground sobbing after the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals decision was announced.
But many called for calm, noting that the decision could be appealed in the US Supreme Court.
Elian was rescued by two
fishermen off the Florida coast in November. He was found
clinging to an inner tube after his mother and 10 others
drowned when their boat sank on the way to the USA from
Latin music giant Puente dead
NEW YORK, June 2 (AP) Tito Puente, the exuberant percussionist and bandleader who rose to stardom during the mambo craze of the 1950s and paved the way for Latin musicians from Carlos Santana to Marc Anthony, has died. He was 77.
to make film on NRI family
Mother keeps son
locked for 30 yrs
on sale at a premium
eats up mate
in USA pregnant
in jammed lift
crushed by garbage truck
Kim Jong-II quits smoking
misses North Pole
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