|Tuesday, July 11, 2000,
Barak to go ahead with Arafat
Arson in Fijis old capital
Sign CTBT, Russia asks India, Pak
Assads son set to succeed
25 die as garbage pile
Panja rules out talks with
No preconditions to talks, says
Let successor decide on NMD,
Mumbai, Karachi a global menace?
New protests against Irish march
Barak to go ahead with Arafat meeting
WASHINGTON, July 10 (Reuters) U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said today embattled Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak was determined to go ahead with this weeks crucial summit with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Mr Barak is due to start a summit meeting tomorrow at the U.S. Presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland, with his own coalition in tatters after right-wing and religious allies deserted his government, saying he had failed to consult them at a crucial moment in peacemaking.
Ms Albright said in an interview with CNN that Mr Barak, who faces a no-confidence vote later today, had made a "very strong speech" to the Israeli people asking them to support him in the West Asia peace process.
"He was elected with a mandate to make peace and he is doing what he is elected to do," Ms Albright said, adding that Mr Barak had promised to put any decisions taken at the summit to a referendum.
"Hes very determined and a hard worker and is coming here to do what he can for Israel," she added.
Speaking a day before the summit, she cautioned that tough negotiations lay ahead.
"They know that they have come here in order to make the hard decisions. The negotiators have been working for months and they have taken the issues as far as they can go.... Its important now that the leaders make the hard decisions, she said.
Ms Albright, who will be attending the talks along with President Bill Clinton, said the President had found it very hard to decide whether to go ahead with the meeting.
"It was not an easy
decision for President Clinton because we were concerned
that the negotiators had hit a dead end and that violence
was coming. Thats why we really put this much
energy into it and even more as we get ready to go,"
India has high stakes in talks
DURBAN, July 10 (UNI) India is an important stake-holder in the outcome of deliberations at the ongoing XIII International AIDS Conference here, accounting for about 3.5 million of the total 33.6 million adults and children worldwide infected with HIV/AIDS, more than in any other country except South Africa.
This was indicated this morning by Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Rita Verma who is heading a strong Indian delegation to the conference which includes the Gujarat Health Minister, the Health Secretaries of Karnataka and Assam and an MP from Madhya Pradesh.
Addressing members of the Indian community at a special function here, Ms Verma commended the fact that the Indian contingent at the conference was one of the largest with about 200 participants. A majority of these, who would be presenting papers, presiding over discussions and leading important expert groups at the six-day meet, are from the NGO sector whom she described as key partners in the second phase of the National AIDS Control Programme.
It is clear that government agencies are not very effective in providing services to vulnerable communities due to various reasons and so partnerships with NGOs are critical in the newly adopted targeted interventions strategy, the minister stressed.
Describing the conference as a unique opportunity to network with participants from other countries, Ms Verma, however, underlined that solutions to Indias problems lay within and not outside.
"Ultimately, it is India, its people and its government who have to tackle the problem and control the epidemic", she said.
Those present at the function included NACO Director Prasada Rao, Indian High Commissioner to South Africa Mr Bhasin and members of both the official and NGO delegations.
The conference which got under way in this coastal South African city last evening is focussing on a unique feature of the killer disease which has infected 34.3 million people worldwide. Though warnings about the growing threat of HIV and AIDS date back to the early and mid eighties, many people from members of affected communities to leaders of global organisations have failed to take them seriously.
UNAIDS Director Peter Piot, addressing the inaugural ceremony, stressed the need for political leadership and the community to speak out and break the wall of silence to turn the tide on AIDS.
South African President
Thabo Mbeki, in a measured speech devoid of his earlier
controversial remarks on HIV, cited extreme poverty as
the number one killer disease which had led to the
collapse of the immune system in his and other developing
Punjabi losing out to Urdu in
ISLAMABAD, July 10 What do Mohammed Owais, Imtiaz Khan and Nazir Khan have in common?
Besides being Pakistani nationals, the three are Punjabis and are facing major problem of seeing their language whither out slowly to Urdu. They are facing a predicament to how to ensure that their future generations do not forget their mother tongue.
This is not just the problem of the three above, but the majority of Punjabis in Pakistan are facing this new trend. The new generation of Punjabis is just refusing to speak their language and are taking more to Urdu than Punjabi as the language which they want to speak.
The Punjabi-speaking new generation of Pakistan feel slighted as they are being treated as second grade citizens for not knowing Urdu. The problem is not just city centric but is acute and widespread. Even the villages deep inside Pakistan are being affected with this phenomenon.
Although mostly carved out of West Punjab and inhabited in majority by the Punjabis, Pakistan is seeing this trend which is disturbing a whole generation. The older generation of Punjabis are visualising that at this rate in the coming decade or so there would be very few Punjabi-speaking people left in Pakistan.
The Punjabis feel that this trend could eventually even have an affect on their history. The rich culture of West Punjab which has such a strong bearing not only on the Punjabis in Pakistan but also in India, could actually be under threat from this new generation of Urdu speaking Punjabis.
The older generation has no hesitation in accepting that it was Punjabi which was still binding the hearts of Indians and Pakistanis. A large number of Punjabis from India and Pakistan keep visiting the other side and bonds as yet are still very strong.
Punjabis in Pakistan point out that it has become a fashion for their new generation to know either English or Urdu and not their own language. They do not wish to speak to boys or girls of their age if they come across them speaking in Punjabi.
The trend is so widespread that even the boys coming to towns from the villages do not wish to speak in Punjabi. They fear that if they are caught speaking Punjabi they might just lose their job or their avenues of growth might get blocked.
A senior bureaucrat, who did not wish to be identified, also pointed an incident to this effect. He said that he had recently employed a young man as his driver. The man was fresh from the village and when he asked him directly whether he knew Punjabi or not, the driver said no.
When the bureaucrat further asked him what the reason for him not knowing his own language the youth said that he had concentrated more on learning Urdu than Punjabi. When the bureaucrat asked the reason for it, the young man openly said that the new generation in Pakistan was not in favour of speaking Punjabi.
This is not just an isolated incident. This correspondent also came across at least over 10 young men who despite having Punjabi background, could not speak the language.
Writing in Gurmukhi has anyway never been encouraged in Pakistan. There are only a handful of people left there who can read or write Gurmukhi.
Surprisingly the present generation has also given in to the new trend and have actually started to encourage the new generation to speak in Urdu. They interact in Punjabi among themselves but shift to Urdu when speaking to their wards. The present generation has also apparently realised that the future of their children was in speaking Urdu.
The Punjabis dont openly put the blame for the present situation on the successive governments but point out that not much had actually been done to preserve the language.
Urdu was adopted as the official language and Punjabi, despite being most widely spoken was totally ignored.
Arson in Fijis old capital
SUVA, July 10 (AFP, Reuters) Fijis old capital, Levuka, was set alight today as the country slipped into increasing lawlessness following the signing of an accord between coup plotters and martial law authorities.
As a result of the signing, immunity will be given to anybody who commits "political offences" up until Thursday.
Numerous incidents were taking place across the country, and Suva itself remained cut off by road from the rest of the nation due to barricades and police station and village seizures.
Suva was also dealing with continual power cuts after a landowner occupation of the countrys hydro-electric power station.
Yesterdays agreement, signed under the increasing pressure of a long national deadlock, is due to lead to the release of 27 hostages, including Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry, his Cabinet and ruling MPs, held in Parliament since May 19 when failed businessman George Speight mounted a coup.
The agreement appears to pretty much give Speight what he has wanted and amounts to a capitulation by the Fiji military forces.
State owned Fiji Broadcasting Commission (FBC) said 30 men attacked Levuka at 1630 GMT, setting fire to the Freemasons Hall before moving to the town.
A major European Union-funded tuna cannery is located in Levuka, and last week the company, Pacific Fishing Company (PAFCO), was given a temporary license to unload fishing boats in the town.
This appeared to be partly why the town was attacked although radio said the rioters were proclaiming their support for Speight.
Martial law spokesman Maj Howard Politini told AFP the situation had stabilised later in the day.
"The villagers are sitting-in at the factory. The women have been allowed out and the men are working at the factory," he said.
PAFCO General Manager Mitieli Baleivanualala, who was reportedly taken hostage in the morning, was talking to riot leaders, Major Politini said.
He said the incident in Levuka had its roots in a long-standing dispute over the stevedoring contract.
The villagers want a guarantee that the contract would be given over to them.
He said soldiers prevented the attempted takeover of the post office.
Sign CTBT, Russia asks India, Pak
MOSCOW, July 10 (PTI) Moscow has asked India and Pakistan to sign the CTBT and the NPT, while intending to strengthen its traditional partnership with New Delhi in international affairs, a new Russian doctrine today said.
"Russia views the signing by India and Pakistan of the CTBT and the NPT as an important factor of stability in the Asian Pacific region," the Kremlin said in its foreign policy doctrine unveiled by Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov here.
"Moscow believes that this would support the course for the creation of nuclear weapons-free zones in Asia," it said.
Referring to its policy toward New Delhi, it said "Russia intends to strengthen its traditional partnership with India, including in the international affairs, and to assist in overcoming problems persisting in South Asia and strengthen stability in the region."
The development of friendly relations with the leading Asian states, primarily with India and China have been identified as "one of the crucial directions" of the Russian foreign policy concept inked by President Vladimir Putin on June 28.
However, there is no mention in the foreign policy directive of any "Moscow-New Delhi-Beijing Triangle."
Dealing further with the Asian nations, the doctrine described the concurrence of the fundamental approaches with Beijing as the mainstay of regional and global stability. However, expressing its desire to develop mutually advantageous cooperation with China, the Kremlin has expressed dissatisfaction at the scale of economic interaction.
"Asia enjoys a steadily growing importance in the context of the entire foreign policy of the Russian federation," English version of the doctrine said.
Turmoil causes Fiji Indians exodus
SUVA, July 10 (AFP) For Fijis Indian population two letters can make all the difference "PR".
"Permanent residency" is a much sought-after stamp on their passport, giving them the right to live in Australia or New Zealand.
"All my friends want PR," said a 20-year-old Muslim student who did not want to be named. "But we dont want to go and we are all sad. We love Fiji and we want to stay here."
Others feel betrayed by a country their families have been in for four or five generations.
"Our people built this country and now they are destroying it," said a mother who was applying for Australian PR. She said she would not look back.
It is not the first exodus of Fiji Indians. During the 12-year regime of Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, who staged two coups in 1987, around 60,000 Indians left.
Many are in New Zealand, a big chunk among the electorate of Foreign Minister Phil Goff, whose strong statements on Fiji reflect the 10 per cent Fiji-Indian voters on his local electoral roll.
Still, his government, reflecting a discrete national concern about the number of ethnic Indian immigrants, has made it very difficult for Indians to apply for PR, or even visitors permits.
A year ago, ethnic Indian Mahendra Chaudhry became Fijis Prime Minister, and drawn by their undimmed passion for the island, many Indians returned.
As a British colony, Fiji was part of the "king sugar" industry of the 19th century, which saw places as diverse as Mauritius, Trinidad and Fiji turned into labour-intensive sugar plantations. Slaves were no longer available and the indenture was the next available option.
"In time, Indian
indentured labour not only helped create the modern cash
economy which the colonial government so desperately
needed, but also shielded the indigenous Fijians from
some of the harsher aspects of the process of
modernisation, enabling them to adapt to the new world at
their own pace."
Assads son set to succeed father
DAMASCUS, July 10 (AP) A month after President Hafez Assads death, his son took the final step toward succeeding him, standing as the only candidate in a nationwide presidential referendum today.
Though the referendum hardly left any doubt about its outcome, the only uncertainty is what percentage of "yes" votes Mr Bashar Assad will receive. In four out of five referendums, orchestrated by the ruling Baath Party, his father had received between 99.6 and 99. 99 per cent of votes.
The result of the referendum is expected tomorrow when Parliament meets for an extraordinary session to announce and approve the outcome of the polls.
Syrias 9.44 million voters more than half the population began voting when the process began this morning.
A Syrian voter should be 18 to be eligible for voting. He may mark a green ring that says "yes" or a gray one that signifies "no."
African solution to AIDS needed
DURBAN, July 10 (PTI) Worried about the AIDS menace that has gripped the sub-Sahara region, South African President Thabo Mbeki has said "HIV and AIDS are having a devastating effect on young people."
"In many developing countries, up to two-thirds of all new infections are among people aged between 15 and 24. Overall it is estimated that half of the global infections have been in people under 25 years of age and with 50 per cent occurring in females under 20," he said.
Addressing the 13th international AIDS conference in Durban, he stressed the wide gap between the rich and poor nations as being one of the chief causes of the short life expectancy of people, but defended his governments AIDS policies saying he was looking for an African solution to the scourge ravaging the continent.
"If we had spent the millions, that we spent on trying to get the world football cup, on fighting AIDS Im certain we will save millions of lives," he said.
Quoting the World Health Organisation to support his views, Mr Mbeki said every year 122 million children under five years of age died from poverty and other related diseases in the developing world.
25 die as garbage pile collapses
MANILA, July 10 (DPA) At least 25 persons were killed and scores injured today when a mountain of garbage collapsed in a landfill area in the Philippine capital, burying up to 100 shanties and triggering a fire, officials said.
Search and rescue teams frantically sifted through the smouldering rubble of garbage and mud at the Payatas dumpsite in the Manila suburban city of Quezon in search for at least 68 others trapped in their buried homes.
"Many more are trapped under the rubble," rescue worker Carlos de Leon said after pulling out an unconscious 16-year-old boy from the pile and rushing him to a nearby hospital. "We will try to get as many out as possible."
A local disaster relief
agency said at least 25 persons were confirmed killed in
the accident, most of whom pinned to death by the debris.
More than 700 residents have been evacuated from the
area, the agency said.
Panja rules out talks with Pakistan
KUWAIT, July 10 (UNI) India has ruled out talks with Pakistan while accusing Islamabad at the same time of sponsoring terrorism in India.
"What is there to talk about... whom should we talk to?," the Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr Ajit Kumar Panja asked while addressing members of the Indian community at a reception held in his honour at Indian Ambassador Prabhu Dayals residence last night.
The minister, who is on a four-day official visit here, said India did not see any point in talking to Pakistans military ruler General Pervez Musharraf, who had rejected all accords signed between the two countries to resolve the outstanding issues and was hell bent on fuelling, terrorism in India.
Mr Panja asserted that India would not surrender an inch of its land in Jammu and Kashmir. "General Musharraf says he wants to discuss Kashmir, which is part and parcel of India. Similarly, we can say we want to discuss Karachi," he remarked.
No preconditions to talks, says Chandrika
COLOMBO, July 10 (UNI) Without laying any preconditions, President Chandrika Kumaratunga today offered to hold talks with the LTTE and said constitutional reforms aimed at devolving powers to provinces would be presented to Parliament early next month.
The offer to the LTTE, to thrash out a political settlement of the ethnic problem on the negotiating table, in tandem with the near consensus achieved with various political parties on the reforms package, was made at a meeting with ambassadors of member states of the European Union.
Let successor decide on NMD, Clinton urged
WASHINGTON, July 10 (Reuters) US Lawmakers have urged President Bill Clinton to let his successor decide whether to build a missile defence system after Saturdays failed test left him little wiser about whether the system would work.
Mr Clinton is under some domestic pressure to take steps to construct a national Missile Defence System (NMD) at a cost of up to $ 60 billion to shield the USA from attacks from so-called "rogue" states like North Korea, Iran and Iraq.
But Russia and China have both weighed in against such a system, with Moscow arguing that it will undermine the deterrent force of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and Beijing saying it will trigger a new global arms race.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers urged the President yesterday to press ahead with the project despite the fact that two out of three Pentagon tests, including Saturdays botched effort, failed to prove that the system will definitely work.
Ultimately, they said, this would allow the President who takes office when Mr Clinton steps down on January 20, 2001, to take the final decision with the benefit of more test data.
The USAs attempt
to intercept and destroy a dummy warhead in space failed
on Saturday because the "hit-to-kill" weapon
fired from Kwajalein Atoll in the Central Pacific did not
separate from the second stage of its liftoff rocket.
Mumbai, Karachi a global menace?
WASHINGTON, July 10 (PTI) Mumbai, Calcutta and Karachi are among the megacities of the third world which may become a global menace, spreading diseases and political unrest and pouring illegal immigrants into the developed countries, US experts have said.
By 2015, Mumbai is likely to have 26 million people, Calcutta over 17 million, Karachi and Sao Paulo 20 million each, Shanghai over 23 million, Jakarta 21 million, Beijing 19 million and Mexico City 18.8 million, The Washington Times quoted the experts as saying.
These megacities will continue to spread diseases unless the rich countries like the USA help them become clean and livable, they said.
Experts said the 58 Chinese nationals found suffocated to death in a container at Dover as they tried to smuggle themselves to the UK should be viewed as a wake-up call.
"There is a danger
that unmanaged urban growth will lead to economic, social
and environmental crises. This is a matter of concern to
developing and developed countries alike," USAID
administrator J.Brian Atwood said.
New protests against Irish march ban
BELFAST, July 10 (Reuters) Protestant hardliners hurled stones at the police and set hijacked vehicles ablaze in Northern Ireland overnight in new protests against a ban on a march through a Roman Catholic area, witnesses said today.
It was the eighth consecutive night of violence in the British province. More protests were expected after a militant group from the Protestant Orange Order urged people to bring the province to a standstill for four hours today.
Extra troops were rushed into the sectarian flashpoint of Drumcree to deal with the latest violence, and there were outbreaks of rioting in the Northern Ireland capital Belfast.
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