|Tuesday, March 13, 2001,
Russia to sell defensive arms to
Israel lifts blockade of 4
Mori denies plan to
Wahid won’t oblige
Annan sees plight
of Afghan refugees
LTTE ‘faces’ rising
Qader Khan, Ashfaq advisers
6 die in riots at Kuala
Bosnian ex-Mayor gives up to tribunal
Russia to sell defensive arms to Iran
Moscow, March 12
“For economic reasons, Russia is interested in (military) cooperation,” Putin told reporters after talks in the Kremlin with Iranian President Mohammad Khatami.
“And the political reasons are that we believe that Iran must be an independent state capable of defending its national interests.”
Russia is under strong pressure from the USA to sell arms to Iran, which Washington lists among “rogue states”. Moscow had refrained from such sales under a secret deal with the USA struck in 1995.
Russia last year said it would no longer abide by that deal, prompting strong criticism from Washington.
Putin said Russia would not trade weapons banned under international law.
“Iran does not make any claims on weapons lying outside international norms and Russian obligations in this sphere and the Russian Federation does not intend to violate its international obligations,” he said. He did not say which arms were being sought by Iran.
The daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta quoted officials from Russia’s arms export agency as saying shipments could include spare parts for BMP-1 and BTW-80 armoured vehicles and T-62 and T-72 tanks. It said parts could also be supplied for Su-24, Su-25 and MiG-29 aircraft and three types of helicopter.
The daily said in future Russia could sell Iran unspecified armour, tactical missiles and diesel-powered submarines.
Putin also said Russia would proceed with work to complete construction of a nuclear power station in the Gulf port of Bushehr, a project denounced by Washington on grounds that it could enable Iran to produce nuclear weapons. “The Russian federation is interested in and ready to take part in...such work,” he said.
Israel lifts blockade of 4 towns
Jerusalem, March 12
“The Defence Minister authorised the lifting of the blockade on Tulkarm, Qalqilya, Bethlehem and Hebron,” an aide to Defence Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said. The closure on the West Bank town of Ramallah will remain in place.
Israel said it had imposed the blockade on West Bank and Gaza Strip areas at the start of a five-month-old uprising for security reasons. Palestinians say it has turned their cities into detention camps and brand it as collective punishment.
After digging trenches and placing tanks on the outskirts of Ramallah, Mr Sharon said it was necessary to tighten the blockade on the city because a group of Palestinians from the area were planning to carry out an attack.
“Our policy has remained exactly as I clarified, steps against those who attack and those behind them, and easing as much as possible (the situation) for most of the population,” he said.
The Israeli Prime Minister’s office defended the tightening of a blockade of the Palestinian-ruled West Bank city of Ramallah, saying it was done to thwart an attack against Israel.
Israel’s policy of sealing off Palestinian areas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip during more than five months of a Palestinian uprising has been sharply criticised by members of the international community.
Sharon’s office released its statement shortly before talks between a European Union delegation and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.
Meanwhile, Sharon has begun plotting out strategies to stamp out a Palestinian revolt and revive peacemaking in his first Cabinet meeting since taking office.
Sharon only took power last week, but has already begun blaming President Arafat for doing nothing to stop fighting in which at least 343 Palestinians, 65 Israelis, and 13 Israeli Arabs have been killed.
Sharon met his Defence Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and top security advisers late on Sunday to plan Israel’s policies to tackle the Palestinian uprising that erupted last September after peace talks became deadlocked, Israel Radio reported.
It said Israel’s intelligence agencies expect violence to erupt ahead of an Arab summit in Jordan later this month and Sharon’s visit to Washington for a meeting with US President George W. Bush on March 20.
US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk said Washington had emphasised to Arafat the need to “to take steps to curb the incitement, curb the violence”.
He told an economic conference in Tel Aviv late on Sunday that the moment Arafat started tackling the violence, Israel must ease “the economic pressure of the closure.”
Sharon said Arafat had done nothing to stop more than five months of fighting and accused the Palestinian leader’s security forces, including Arafat’s elite presidential guard, of playing a key role in attacks against Israelis.
“We have to draw a clear distinction between terrorists and their supporters and the people who would like just to go to work and bring some bread home and feed their children,” Sharon told CNN yesterday.
Mori denies plan to resign
Tokyo, March 12
“The media wrote that it was a de facto resignation”, Mori told the budget committee in Parliament’s Upper House in his first public comments following a meeting on Saturday with five powerbrokers in his Liberal Democratic Party.
“However, none of the five senior LDP leaders I discussed this with understood that I had expressed my intention to resign,” the embattled Prime Minister said, “And I myself did not say such a thing.”
Mori told the LDP stalwarts to bring forward elections for the party’s presidency. The LDP is the largest single party in the powerful Lower House of Parliament.
The decision to bring forward the party’s election, originally scheduled for September, was tantamount to Mori’s resignation, newspapers said.
Defying the de facto exit, Mori hinted at running for the LDP Presidency again in the election.
“I cannot act alone,” Mori responded to an Opposition member who pressed him on whether he would run for the LDP leadership.
“I have to listen to voices both within and outside the party, and if anyone recommends me to run, I will surely consider that,” the Prime Minister said.
“Because of the de facto resignation reports, my telephone is completely jammed. I received lots of letters and none of them demanded I resign,” he said.
Meanwhile, four Opposition parties agreed today to bring a motion of censure against Mori to demand his immediate resignation.
“During the past year, Mori brought nothing but economic and political problems. He has no credentials to be a Prime Minister,” said an official from the Communist Party of Japan.
“And the Prime Minister is creating yet more political confusion by saying he will hold on to his job while the rest of the country and the world believe he will go soon,” the official said.
The Opposition Bloc was expected to bring the censure motion later in the day to the Upper House. Even if passed, the censure has only moral weight and is not legally binding.
Saturday’s move was a typically opaque Japanese political face-saving formula, permitting the Premier’s right-hand man to insist that Mori was not yet ready to quit, while clearing the way for him to do so.
“It is not his expression to resign,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda told reporters.
Wahid won’t oblige protesters
Jakarta, March 12
As he spoke to reporters following a Cabinet meeting, thousands of students protested outside the presidential palace in central Jakarta, calling for him to step down. “I don’t want to resign. I want to maintain this country’s integrity,” he said.
“In the Cabinet meeting, I have ordered Vice-President Megawati (Sukarnoputri) to be proactive in running this government.”
Mr Wahid’s increasing number of political opponents have been nudging the hugely popular Megawati to replace him. But she has long come under criticism from political analysts for not taking any real active role in the government despite heading the country’s largest political party.
Mr Wahid said if he was forced out of the office the giant archipelago would break apart.
Meanwhile thousands of Indonesian students took to streets on Monday to call for a national strike to force embattled President Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid to resign.
Some 8,000 students massed outside the tightly-guarded presidential palace while thousands of others marched through Jakarta’s main thoroughfares toward the palace, chanting anti-Wahid slogans.
Annan sees plight of Afghan refugees
Shamshatoo (Pakistan), March 12
Children and elderly people are dying every day of disease at the Jalozai camp, the worst of the refugee outposts, where an estimated 80,000 persons are packed into a dust-choked patch of land with open sewers and no drinking water.
Annan had wanted to visit that camp first, but the Pakistani authorities cancelled that plan at the last minute, citing security concerns. UN officials had expressed concern that mobs of desperate refugees could get out of control during such a visit.
Instead, Annan stopped first at the Shamshatoo camp, where about 70,000 refugees have been settled by the United Nations since early January.
As Annan and his aides arrived by helicopter and entered the camp, thousands of refugees squatted on its hillsides and watched his entourage pass by. He was to visit a religious school at the camp where about 20 young girls wrapped in scarves study the Koran.
Conditions for many refugees are worsening each day, said Yusuf Hassan, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman in Pakistan.
“I shudder to think what it will be like, in the next few months, when winter temperatures begin to climb toward summer highs of 40°C,” the spokesman said.
Annan, who arrived in Pakistan on Saturday during the first leg of his South-Asian tour, said the wretched conditions of the estimated 2,00,000 Afghani refugees in Pakistan will be a priority of his. In addition to Jalozai and Shamshatoo camps, about 50,000 refugees have found refugee in other camps in Pakistan or with relatives who fled there earlier from Afghanistan.
LTTE ‘faces’ rising desertions
Colombo, March 12
A government spokesman said the recognition of the LTTE as a terrorist organisation by the British Government, coupled with the recent defeats in the battle front and the US envoy’s recent statement in Jaffna, have aggravated the situation for the LTTE.
The eastern intelligence unit has reported that members of the families of LTTE cadres are striving hard to find ways and means of extricating their children from the LTTE’s grip and some members who have joined the terrorist outfit either voluntarily or under compulsion, are desperately attempting to come out of the organisation.
US Ambassador E. Ashely Wills during his visit to Jaffna last week said that their dream of creating a separate state within the territory of Sri Lanka would never materialise and that the world community would never support such a cause. The LTTE should now turn to the cause of peace process.
The readiness on the part of the LTTE to enter into peace talks and the continued extension of ceasefire announced by the Tigers were the other factors compelling the cadres to desert the terrorist organisation.
Qader Khan, Ashfaq advisers
to Musharraf Islamabad, March 12 Mr Khan, Chairman of Kahauta
Research Laboratories (KRL), and Mr Ashfaq Ahmed, chief of Pakistan’s
Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), are currently on extension and after expiry of their term will be entrusted with the new assignments, an official spokesman said last night. The nation daily yesterday reported that the military regime had decided to terminate Mr Khan’s service, while it was considering not to extend Mr Ahmed’s tenure. The spokesman denied the scientists were being relieved of their present duties under any pressure from international agencies.
Islamabad, March 12
Mr Khan, Chairman of Kahauta Research Laboratories (KRL), and Mr Ashfaq Ahmed, chief of Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), are currently on extension and after expiry of their term will be entrusted with the new assignments, an official spokesman said last night.
The nation daily yesterday reported that the military regime had decided to terminate Mr Khan’s service, while it was considering not to extend Mr Ahmed’s tenure.
The spokesman denied the scientists were being relieved of their present duties under any pressure from international agencies.
6 die in riots at Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur, March 12
A large number of police and paramilitary forces armed with M-16 rifles were patrolling Kampung Medan and other affected areas.
Malaysia’s state-run Bernama news agency quoting chief police officer Nik Ismail Nik Yusuf said the Indian ethnic man succumbed to stab injuries sustained on Saturday at the University Malaya Medical Centre.
Bosnian ex-Mayor gives up to tribunal Belgrade, March 12 Blagoje Simic was indicted by the tribunal in 1995 for crimes committed while he was Mayor of the Bosnian town of Bosanski
Samac. He left Belgrade today in a plane bound for the Netherlands, said the Beta bulletin.
Belgrade, March 12
Blagoje Simic was indicted by the tribunal in 1995 for crimes committed while he was Mayor of the Bosnian town of Bosanski
Samac. He left Belgrade today in a plane bound for the Netherlands, said the Beta bulletin.
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