SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

N-Bill reconciliation process in top gear
Congressional conferees began reconciling differences in the House of Representatives and Senate versions of the US-India civilian nuclear cooperation bills on Tuesday evening after the House in a vote instructed conferees to retain an amendment requiring India to cooperate with US efforts to curb Iran's nuclear programmes.

Fiji coup leader tightens grip
Suva, December 6
Fiji's new military ruler today declared a state of emergency, dissolved parliament and warned he would crush any attempt at revolt, a day after leading a bloodless coup that sparked global outrage.

In Malaysia, call to whip prostitutes
Kuala Lumpur, December 6
Malaysian lawmakers have called for foreign prostitutes to be whipped as a deterrent to others considering coming here to work in the sex industry, a report said yesterday.

Tough Lanka law to battle LTTE
Colombo, December 6
The Sri Lankan Government today said it would introduce tough anti-terrorism laws to fight increasing threats from Tamil Tigers, despite pressure from hardliners to re-impose the ban on the rebels.



EARLIER STORIES


Saddam appears in court
Baghdad, December 6
A smiling Saddam Hussein was back in court today for his genocide trial despite earlier demanding to be excused from a process that he describes as a "mockery".

Afghan suicide bomber kills 8
KANDAHAR: At least eight persons, including two Americans, were killed in a suicide attack in Kandahar in Afghanistan on Wednesday morning. Official sources and witnesses said the suicide bomber blew himself in front of the USPI security company. — ANI

Iraq bleeds again

Prophet’s cartoons cost
Editor dear

A man cries as he holds his daughter, who was killed in a suicide bomb attack, in Baghdad's Sadr city, on Wednesday. A suicide bomber blew himself up inside a minibus in Shi'ite city, killing three persons and wounding 16, Interior Ministry sources have said.
A man cries as he holds his daughter, who was killed in a suicide bomb attack, in Baghdad's Sadr city, on Wednesday. A suicide bomber blew himself up inside a minibus in Shi'ite city, killing three persons and wounding 16, Interior Ministry sources have said. — Reuters

Mohammad al-Assadi, Editor-in-Chief of the English daily, Yemen Observer, listens to a verdict against him in a courtroom in Sanaa on Wednesday. A Yemeni court fined al-Assadi 500,000 rials ($2,541) for reprinting cartoons of Prophet Mohammad, which provoked outrage among Muslims.
Mohammad al-Assadi, Editor-in-Chief of the English daily, Yemen Observer, listens to a verdict against him in a courtroom in Sanaa on Wednesday. A Yemeni court fined al-Assadi 500,000 rials ($2,541) for reprinting cartoons of Prophet Mohammad, which provoked outrage among Muslims. — Reuters



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N-Bill reconciliation process in top gear
Ashish Kumar Sen writes from Washington

Congressional conferees began reconciling differences in the House of Representatives and Senate versions of the US-India civilian nuclear cooperation bills on Tuesday evening after the House in a vote instructed conferees to retain an amendment requiring India to cooperate with US efforts to curb Iran's nuclear programmes.

The amendment, proposed by Iowa Democratic Senator Tom Harkin and added to the Senate version of the nuclear bill last month, requires the President of the United States to determine that India is fully and actively participating in US and international efforts to dissuade, sanction and contain Iran's nuclear programme consistent with United Nations Security Council resolutions. Both President George W. Bush's administration and New Delhi oppose the so-called Harkin amendment.

The House vote, however, is non-binding and the conferees have not agreed to accept the amendment.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh apprised Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of India's concerns with certain provisions in the House and Senate bills.

In a phone conversation with Mr Frist, Mr Singh said "there are a number of provisions in the House and Senate-passed bills that are problematic for the Indian government," the Tennessee Republican said on Tuesday.

Mr Singh was worried that these provisions "depart from the understanding reached with President Bush on this issue on July 18, 2005," Mr Frist said, adding that he assured the Prime Minister "that the conferees are well aware of the Indian government's concerns." Mr. Frist said he had appointed himself as a conferee in order to be able to participate personally in the process of refining the legislation, and assured Mr Singh "that we are working on the issues of concern to India." He told the Prime Minister one of his top priorities for the remainder of this Congress is to enact the nuclear legislation, and expressed confidence that congressional action on the bills will soon be completed and a reconciled bill will be sent to the president for his signature by the end of the week.

Announcing the first Senate-House conference meeting yesterday evening, Mr Hyde said, "This legislation is a cornerstone of the president's vision for a new strategic partnership between the United States and India that will promote greater regional and international stability."

In the House vote on Tuesday, Mr Lantos backed the Harkin amendment calling it "a critical piece of information to aid our deliberations when we consider an actual agreement for civil nuclear cooperation with India" as required by the House bill.

Massachusetts Democratic Representative Ed Markey, a critic of the nuclear deal, contended, "We really need to ensure that India is not able to simultaneously reap the benefits of nuclear cooperation with the USA and others, while continuing to support Iran's efforts to maintain a renegade nuclear programme." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has opposed the Harkin amendment.

Miss Rice noted that the Bush administration has "in good faith tried to ensure that all determinations required to facilitate US-India civil nuclear cooperation stem from the July 18, 2005 and March 2, 2006 joint statements."

Noting India has twice stood with the United States in voting at the International Atomic Energy Agency against Iran, Miss Rice added, "Although we appreciate India's past support and expect its continued cooperation in this area, this certification would be viewed by India as adding additional conditions ...and could re-open the terms of the initiative to renegotiation."

She suggested conferees "defer to the House bill, which contains similar language under 'Statements of Policy' rather than in a presidential determination."

Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association noted that several issues will need to be resolved in the conference. Among these: Senate bill Section 106 (on restrictions on reprocessing and enrichment technology transfers); whether the U.S. government may support a Nuclear Suppliers Group guideline change that allows trade with states other than India that do not accept full scope safeguards (Senate version would prohibit this); and various reporting requirements.

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Fiji coup leader tightens grip

Suva, December 6
Fiji's new military ruler today declared a state of emergency, dissolved parliament and warned he would crush any attempt at revolt, a day after leading a bloodless coup that sparked global outrage.

Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama tightened his grip on power by swearing in his caretaker prime minister, sacking two top law and order officials and briefly rounding up vocal critics of his takeover.

As ousted prime minister Laisenia Qarase and the New Zealand and Australian leaders urged Fijians to resist the nation's fourth coup in two decades using peaceful means, Bainimarama made it clear he would brook no such opposition.

"After receiving intelligence reports there are a number of individuals who are planning disruption to peace and harmony, we have reasonable grounds to believe the life of the state is threatened," he said at a press conference.

"Do not interfere with the process that is currently under way. There is no point in debating the legalities or otherwise of our actions. "If we are pushed to use force, we will do so," he warned. Suva was calm under a tight military presence as Bainmarama pursued his long-threatened "clean-up" of alleged corruption. — AFP

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In Malaysia, call to whip prostitutes

Kuala Lumpur, December 6
Malaysian lawmakers have called for foreign prostitutes to be whipped as a deterrent to others considering coming here to work in the sex industry, a report said yesterday.

Mohamed Aziz, from the ruling National Front coalition, told Parliament that he had met a transvestite from Brunei who said he moved to Malaysia because the rules here were more lenient.

"He told me that in Brunei, prostitutes would be whipped," he said, according to the Star daily.

"If we can impose whipping for drug addicts, why can't we do the same for prostitutes," he said in a proposal that was supported by at least one other lawmaker.

The Malaysian Government is considering introducing tougher laws against prostitution amid concerns over an influx of foreign sex workers who are using tourist visas to enter the country.

Deputy Internal Security Minister Johari Baharum has said that over 15,500 foreign women were arrested for prostitution from 2004 to July 2006, including more than 6,000 from China, 4,596 from Indonesia, 2,613 from Thailand and 1,316 from the Philippines.

Women from Vietnam, Cambodia, Uzbekistan, India, Myanmar, Russia, Laos and Cambodia also come to Malaysia to engage in the sex trade, he said.

Prostitution is illegal in the predominantly Muslim nation. — AFP

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Tough Lanka law to battle LTTE

Colombo, December 6
The Sri Lankan Government today said it would introduce tough anti-terrorism laws to fight increasing threats from Tamil Tigers, despite pressure from hardliners to re-impose the ban on the rebels.

Provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and the Emergency laws will come into effect shortly to stem ethnic violence which has resulted in the deaths of over 3,400 people and displaced hundreds of civilians in the last 12 months, government officials said.

The new laws will give the security forces and police wide powers of arrest and detention, but stopped short of banning the Tigers as demanded by nationalists. — PTI

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Saddam appears in court

Baghdad, December 6
A smiling Saddam Hussein was back in court today for his genocide trial despite earlier demanding to be excused from a process that he describes as a "mockery".

Saddam returned to the courtroom one a day after his lawyers released a handwritten letter, purportedly from the ousted Iraqi leader, asking to be allowed to remain in his cell. "I request you excuse me from attending the sessions of this latest mockery," the letter said, complaining that the judge prevented him and his fellow defendants from explaining their point of view.

Though the prosecutor asked the judge yesterday to end the witness phase of testimony to speed the trial along, another witness was presented today, a doctor who treated victims of Iraqi gas attacks. — AFP

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