|Thursday, July 13, 2000,
Russian rocket with module lifts off
LAUNCH PAD 81, (Baikonur), July 12 — A Proton rocket carrying the Russian-built living quarters for the International Space Station (ISS) blasted off today, paving the way for future missions to inhabit the space lab.
Secrecy marks W. Asia peace talks
Kulsoom vows to dislodge army
Photo: Wife of deposed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Kulsoom Sharif, waves to her supporters on Wednesday, while walking to the High Court in Lahore to file an application to ask for the release of her arrested supporters. Dozens of Sharif's supporters were arrested during an anti-government rally with Kulsoom. — AP/PTI
|Cop dies in N. Ireland violence
LONDON, July 12 — A man was shot dead and his body dumped next to a bonfire lit early this morning by Northern Irish Protestants to mark July 12, the height of the Protestant marching season, as violence erupted across the British province.
Kohl’s CDU ‘took
India to have half
of world’s AIDS cases?
Pipeline fire: many
| US-N Korea missile
KUALA LUMPUR, July 12 — Talks between the USA and North Korea ended in deadlock today over Pyongyang’s demand for compensation to stop missile exports.
China ‘blackmailing’ USA on arms sales
Russian rocket with module lifts off
LAUNCH PAD 81, (Baikonur), July 12 (Reuters) — A Proton rocket carrying the Russian-built living quarters for the International Space Station (ISS) blasted off today, paving the way for future missions to inhabit the space lab.
Trailing a cone of flame, the rocket soared into a blue sky and went safely into orbit at 11.06 a.m, 10 minutes after its launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
“The launch took place as scheduled,” an official at the Baikonur Mission Control told Reuters.
The launch of the Zvezda (“Star”) module is a leap forward for the $ 60 billion project which also unites the USA, Canada, Japan and Europe, but has been delayed for more than two years by Russia’s economic difficulties.
It finally allows project participants to send up a crew of cosmonauts to the station, which will be the largest and costliest spaceship ever built.
The ISS has been dubbed one of the greatest engineering feats ever undertaken, and a unique event in the history of international space cooperation. “The launch is crucial because without this module the further development of the ISS is impossible,” said Alexander Kuznetsov, Deputy Director of the Russian Space Agency.
The 20-tonne Zvezda will join the two ISS modules already orbiting the earth — the Russian Zarya (“dawn”) and the U.S. unity module. But ultimately it will be a tiny part of the ISS.
When complete, the complex will weigh 418 tonnes, be seven storeys tall and its outline will be visible at night with the naked eye. It will have about as much living space as a Boeing 747 Jumbo jet. The target date for completion is 2005.
If Zvezda fails to dock successfully with the existing infrastructure, a three-man team known as the “zero crew” is on standby in Baikonur to race into space and make the connection manually, Kuznetsov said.
The first scheduled manned flight to Zvezda has been set tentatively for October this year, although a U.S. crew did visit the ISS in May to boost its flagging orbit.
Today’s successful launch comes as a relief to Russian space officials who had discovered a flaw in the fuel tank of the Proton during its last launch earlier this month.
They said the hitch had been resolved after extra tests. The Proton booster, one of the main workhorses of the Russian space programme, has come under close scrutiny since two missions failed in 1999, raining metal debris on the Kazakh steppe and leading to a temporary ban on launches.
Secrecy marks W. Asia peace talks
THURMONT (USA), July 12 (AP) — Hoping to live up to the legacy of Camp David, US President Bill Clinton and the Israeli and Palestinian leaders are plunging into intensive negotiations in a backwood setting whose informality belied the “profound and wrenching” questions at hand.
With Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat chatting along side him, Mr Clinton yesterday strolled the winding paths of the rustic presidential retreat where Egypt and Israel set themselves on a course for peace 22 years ago.
The back porch of the presidential cabin served as the venue for separate talks with Mr Barak and Mr Arafat before all three leaders and their aides gathered for 30 minutes at a long rectangular conference table in a weathered cottage nestled in the Maryland woods.
Mr Clinton held separate evening discussions with the two leaders, and all three delegations, about 40 persons, dined together at round tables inside the Laurel cabin, according to Mr Clinton’s chief spokesman, Joe Lockhart.
Mr Clinton spent the night at Camp David, about 10 km north of Washington DC, in preparation for another round of talks.
Occasional moments of light-heartedness, including some playful jostling by Mr Barak and Mr Arafat as they ushered each other into their initial meeting with Mr Clinton, did little to dispel the sense of urgency and seriousness hanging over the gathering.
“One shouldn’t estimate the complexity, the difficulty (of the talks) — it’s not for the faint-hearted at all”, Mr Hanan Ashrawi, spokeswoman for the Palestinian delegation, said on the PBS programme, “The Newshour with Jim Lehrer”.
Mindful of news leaks that have plagued Middle-East summits in the past, the White House stressed that no information would be forthcoming about the substance of the talks.
“I have no intention over the next few days to provide progress reports”, Mr Lockhart told journalists. “The delegations know each other well. They know the issues well. And I think the best thing to do is allow the parties to try to work through those differences”.
Mr Lockhart described the atmosphere in yesterday’s talks as “good” and the discussion as “serious”, but provided no details on the substance of the talks.
Mr Clinton, after his joint meeting with Mr Barak and Mr Arafat, parried reporters’ questions by saying: “We pledged to each other we would answer no questions and offer no comments, so I have to set a good example”.
Kulsoom vows to dislodge army
ISLAMABAD, July 12 (PTI) — Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, wife of deposed Pakistan premier Nawaz Sharif, has vowed to continue her struggle by mobilising the public till the military rulers are thrown out and the army is sent back to barracks.
“I have committed myself to save the country and I will accomplish the task at all costs. By blocking our caravan and arresting PML leaders and workers, the government is provoking unrest,” she said here yesterday, referring to her failed bid to organise a rally last week against the military regime.
She said crackdown on PML men has proved that “the government is afraid of us”.
In an apparent reference to differences in Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League on holding talks with the military regime, Kulsoom said, “Some people are trying to convert Muslim League into Musharraf League.”
Accusing the military rulers of destroying the country, she said, “I will contact each and every Pakistani and no amount of terror or use of force will desist me from contacting the people.”
She claimed to have the support of the majority of the people and said some leaders were not joining her struggle as they were afraid of the military regime.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s military regime has begun probe into the security lapse which allowed Kulsoom Nawaz to slip through a cordon around her house last weekend.
Kulsoom, who was to lead a rally from Lahore to Peshawar on Saturday, was put under virtual house arrest since Friday night. However, she gave a slip to the security on Saturday and drove up to 6 km before being caught up and detained.
Punjab Governor Lt-Gen (retd) Muhammad Safdar has taken a serious note of the dereliction of duty of the securitymen and asked the chief secretary to submit probe findings by July 14, official APP news agency reported.
Cop dies in N. Ireland violence
LONDON, July 12 (DPA, Reuters) — A man was shot dead and his body dumped next to a bonfire lit early this morning by Northern Irish Protestants to mark July 12, the height of the Protestant marching season, as violence erupted across the British province.
A police officer was set alight by a petrol bomb and Protestant paramilitaries released volleys of gunfire into the air as the nightly clashes that have erupted across the province for the past 10 nights reached a peak.
The deceased was a Protestant linked to a paramilitary organisation and had apparently been killed by Protestants, a British Broadcasting Corporation correspondent in Belfast said, indicating that the killing was not sectarian. His body was found at Larne in County Antrim, 32 km north of Belfast.
At least 16 police officers were injured, and fears of increased violence rose today, the 310th anniversary of the battle of the Boyne, in which the Protestant King William III defeated the Catholic King James II.
Kohl’s CDU ‘took kickbacks’
PARIS/BERLIN (DPA) — Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s Christian Democrats (CDU) received millions of marks in kickback from the sale of Eastern Germany’s Leuna Refinery to France’s Elf Aquitaine, according to a report.
France’s Le Monde newspaper quoted a former top Elf executive, Andre Tarallo, as saying bribes were paid to the CDU with the full knowledge of the late French President, Francois Mitterrand. At the time of the 1992 Leuna sale, Elf was still a French state-owned company.
Tarallo, who used to head Elf’s operations in Africa, was quoted by Le Monde as telling a French court that Mr Mitterrand knew $ 38 million flowed to Germany in connection with the Leuna sale.
“I found out back then in 1992 that the money went to the CDU —the party of Helmut Kohl,” said Tarallo according to Le Monde.
Earlier reports had suggested Mr Kohl received 30 million marks to help finance his successful 1994 re-election campaign from Mr Mitterrand. Although Mr Kohl was a conservative and Mr Mitterrand a Socialist, the two leaders developed a very close political friendship.
In Berlin, Mr Kohl strongly denied the report in a statement.
“It’s completely made up and a lie,” said the statement issued by Mr Kohl’s spokesman, adding that neither the CDU nor Kohl had ever received any money in connection with Leuna.
Mr Kohl has admitted he personally took two million marks in illegal cash donations during the 1990s and his CDU has confessed to about 50 million marks in illicit funds.
But both Mr Kohl and the party have refused to say where the money came from.
Adding to the scandal, a German Government report earlier this month revealed that two-thirds of all computer files in the Chancellery were erased immediately after Mr Kohl’s 1998 defeat by Mr Gerhard Schroeder.
India to have half of world’s AIDS cases?
DURBAN, July 12 (PTI) — An Indian medical expert, currently attending the 13th International AIDS Conference here, has said India will soon have half of the world’s HIV-infected people if the Indian Government and society fail to meet the challenges soon.
Dr Ishwar Gilada, secretary of the people’s health organisation, was speaking here today on the second day of the conference about the HIV/AIDS situation in India.
He said that one-fifth of India’s population — nearly 200 million — was affected by HIV virus and about 10 million had full-blown AIDS.
“About one million people have already died”, he said.
“Currently we have 10 million people with full-blown AIDS, and it is estimated that if the government, NGOs and the society fail to take timely steps, then we will have 20 million people with AIDS in two years’ time. In no time, we will have half of the world’s AIDS population in India”.
He said as an individual “we have done a lot, but as a nation we have not responded to the challenges of the AIDS virus”.
Pipeline fire: many still missing
ABUJA (Nigeria), July 12 (AP) — More than 100 charred bodies, many of them children in school uniforms, today lay scattered among burned palm and rubber trees after a damaged gasoline pipeline exploded in southern Nigeria, killing villagers who were scavenging fuel with buckets and chamber pots.
The death toll was expected to climb. About 100 villagers were seriously injured and 100 others were reported missing, witnesses and state television said.
US-N Korea missile talks deadlocked
KUALA LUMPUR, July 12 (Reuters) — Talks between the USA and North Korea ended in deadlock today over Pyongyang’s demand for compensation to stop missile exports.
Washington said it was against compensating North Korea for agreeing to stop the exports, further stalling talks over Pyongyang’s missiles programme that have been held on and off over four years.
“The North Koreans should not be compensated for agreeing to stop an act which they should not be conducting in the first place”, said Mr Robert Einhorn, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Non-Proliferation.
Asked when the two sides would meet again, Mr Einhorn told a news conference at the end of talks held at the U.S. Embassy here. “We would very much expect to meet this year. We hope to meet within the next few months”.
China ‘blackmailing’ USA on arms sales
BEIJING, July 12 (PTI) — China is using its covert military ties with Pakistan to blackmail the USA into curbing its arms sales to Taiwan, diplomatic sources here say.
The Chinese seem to be using nuclear and missile technology transfers to Pakistan as a bargaining chip to wrest concessions from the USA on the Taiwan issue, a diplomatic source here said. He was commenting on the recent Sino-US arms control and non-proliferation negotiations here.
“They have adopted blackmail diplomacy on non-proliferation, a pet subject of the Clinton Administration, so that China could try and seize maximum benefits,” the source told PTI on condition of anonymity.
Though China and Pakistan have flatly denied long-range missile cooperation, senior US officials confirmed that they had taken up the matter with China during the talks.
China, which views Taiwan as a rebel province, is vehemently opposed to continued US arms sales to the cash-rich island while the US justifies the sales, citing the Taiwan Relations Act which requires Washington to aid the island in meeting its self-defence needs.
Beijing’s repeated plea not to include Taiwan under the proposed Theatre Missile Defence (TMD) system in East Asia has not been accepted by Washington.
The issue will be high on the agenda during US Defence Secretary William Cohen’s talks with the Chinese leadership here starting today.
Meanwhile, Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone last night announced that he would introduce legislation in the US House of Representatives, seeking to impose economic sanctions on China for providing ballistic missile technology to Pakistan.
In a speech on the floor of the House, Mr Pallone said he would be sponsoring a companion to legislation introduced in the Senate on the subject by senators Fred Thompson and Robert G. Torricelli (both Democrats).
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