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Iran-Taliban clash ruled out
TEHERAN, Sept 6 — Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ruled out any military confrontation with the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan, a leading Iranian newspaper reported today.

600 Hutus massacred
in Congo

NAIROBI, Sept 6 — Rebels opposed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo government of President Laurent Kabila have massacred at least 600 ethnic Hutus at a Catholic mission in eastern Congo.

 

BEIJING : Maestro Zubin Mehta (left) poses with Barbara Hendricks playing Liu before the premiere of opera Turando in Beijing's Forbidden City on Saturday. Puccini's opera, set in ancient Beijing, was performed for the first time on it's actual site. The lavish project, which has a cast of 1,000, including ranks of soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army in Ming Dynasty costumes and international opera stars, cost $ 15 million, with rent of the Forbidden City venue costing about $ 1 million. — AP/PTI
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LTTE calls for talks to end crisis
COLOMBO, Sept 6 — The LTTE has called for fresh talks with the government through an independent third party mediator to resolve the decades-old ethnic war in Sri Lanka.

Clinton visit decision by Sept-end
KARACHI, Sept 6 — An armed Muslim militant group today warned US President Bill Clinton not to go through with his scheduled visit to Pakistan and threatened resistance if he dares to go ahead with his plans.

Laden hideout raid planned before blasts
WASHINGTON, Sept 6 — The USA had plans for a raid inside Afghanistan to capture alleged terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden months before the embassy bombings in Africa, The New York Times reported today quoting senior US officials.

Director Kurosawa dead
TOKYO, Sept 6 — Japan’s most famous film director, Akira Kurosawa, died at his home today at the age of 88, Kyodo news agency reported.

Computer hacker cracks India’s N-computer
AUCKLAND, Sept 6 — A New Zealand teenage computer hacker who broke into computers at India’s nuclear research facility has also managed to break into Turkey’s facility and says others are targeting Pakistan, the weekly “Listener” magazine reported today.

Queen’s pay rise faces axe
LONDON, Sept 6 — The British Treasury is to cut the Queen’s annual pay rise in a radical reform of Royal finances, The Sunday Times reported.
 
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Iran-Taliban clash ruled out

TEHERAN, Sept 6 (Reuters) — Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ruled out any military confrontation with the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan, a leading Iranian newspaper reported today.

But tension remains high between the two rival Muslim states over the fate of 11 Iranian diplomats and a journalist missing since Taliban fighters overran the northern opposition stronghold of Mazar-i-Sharif a month ago.

Iran is ruled by a government dominated by Shia clerics. The Taliban militia, which controls 90 per cent of Afghanistan follow a strictly purist interpretation of Islam’s dominant Sunni faith.

Mr Khamenei, commander-in-chief of Iran’s half-million-strong armed forces, said there would be “no confrontation with Taliban”, the Tehran Times said.

“In a question-and-answer session at the Teachers’ Training University, Ayatollah Khamenei responded that he was personally following the developments... related to Afghanistan,” it said.

“He assured that there will be no confrontation with Taliban,” the English-language daily added.

Speculation that Iran might strike the Taliban was fanned yesterday when state-run Tehran radio said the Islamic republic had the right under international law to take all necessary action against the Taliban over the diplomats’ disappearance.

Meanwhile, the Iranian police have killed four drug traffickers linked to Afghanistan’s Taliban militia, a newspaper reported.

The four were killed in clashes in the region of Torbat-e-Haidarieh, near the Afghan border in Khorasan province, Kayhan said without giving a date.

It identified the leader of the ring as Tavakol Bahador-Zehi, who had smuggled in “massive quantities of drugs over the years.’’

The paper said the four carried permits issued by the Taliban to carry arms. Large quantities of drugs, weapons, and ammunition were seized in the operation.

Two other traffickers and two policemen were also killed in a separate clash in Zahedan, a town also near the Afghan border in Sistan-Baluchestan province, the paper said.
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600 Hutus massacred in Congo

NAIROBI, Sept 6 (DPA) — Rebels opposed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo government of President Laurent Kabila have massacred at least 600 ethnic Hutus at a Catholic mission in eastern Congo, according to reports received from the Italian Missionary Press agency Misna in Rome.

The massacres occurred from August 24 onwards in and around the mission station in the small town of Kasika, 55 km west of the Rwandan-Congolese border town of Bukavu.

Reports from local residents and local aid organisations say that the death-toll has been rising as local residents find more and more bodies in and around the mission-station and in a radius of five km.

The Hutu peasants are reported to be remnants of Rwandan Hutu refugees, including militiamen and government soldiers, who had been based between 1994-1997 in vast refugee camps outside the town of Bukavu.

No confirmation was available either from rebel Congolese Democratic Union rebel forces, fighting Kabila’s government forces in the area, or from Kabila’s government troops. The killings are reported to have been carried out by largely-Tutsi elements of the rebel CDU, who took control of Kasika last month.

The reports follow claims by Tutsi CDU rebels that Congolese forces have engaged in massacres of Tutsi villagers in the same region.

Rebel sources claim that in the town of Kisangani, the third-largest in the Congo, Kabila’s troops massacred over 200 Tutsis before the town fell to the rebels.

Eye-witnesses in Kisangani this week say that besides the town’s airstrip there were mass graves estimated to contain at least 200 people.

The graves had been hurriedly dug and arms, limbs and a torso could be seen sticking out of the newly-dug earth.

Kabila’s troops, backed by Angolan and Zimbabwean infantry and air-power, are combating Banyamulenge Tutsi rebels in the east of Democratic Congo (DRC) after the rebels were pushed out of strongholds in the west of the country which they had occupied since the beginning of their lightning rebellion on August 2.

A conference, hosted by South Africa’s Nelson Mandela and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is to begin tomorrow at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, in hopes of finding possibilities of peace in the Congo war.

Government heads from Angola, South Africa, Namibia, Uganda, Rwanda, Mozambique and DRC are hoped to attend, as well as UN chief Kofi Annan.
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LTTE calls for talks to end crisis

COLOMBO, Sept 6 (PTI) — The LTTE has called for fresh talks with the government through an independent third party mediator to resolve the decades-old ethnic war in Sri Lanka.

In a rare interview to weekly paper "Sunday Leader", LTTE supremo Prabhakaran’s confidante and head of the LTTE’s political wing Thamilchelvam called upon the government to initiate confidence-building steps as a prelude to the talks.

"A state of eelam was not our original demand. When we were deceived by successive governments, we put forward the eelam demand only when it appeared to us that we cannot expect justice from them," he told the pro-opposition daily.

"It is, therefore, unreasonable to expect us to give up our demand (for eelam) completely," he said in the first hint of a climbdown from the LTTE’s earlier rigid stance that has stymied all moves towards peace.

Blaming the successive governments for not addressing the problems of the Tamils, he said an atmosphere of "mutual distrust" had led to failure of several rounds of talks on the issue and spiralling violence in the country.

Thamilchelvam, part of LTTE’s negotiating team at the 1994 talks, said "both sides distrust each other. Therefore, we must first built up mutual confidence. Once this is brought about, discussions could be initiated through a third party."

The LTTE’s response came after government overtures to resume talks if it laid down arms and gave up a demand for an independent homeland "eelam" for the Tamils in the country’s northeast.

Thamilchelvam also appealed to the Sinhalese Buddhist majority of the country’s south to work towards defeating the government’s machinations which has led to violence and hatred in the country.

"We are the children of the same mother. This is our country. This is our mother land. We can develop this country if we get together," he said from his jungle hideout in rebel-held North Vanni.

"The government is living on the war. It is achieving its aim by politicising the war. Sinhala masses must realise this. Let both parties get together and teach a good lesson to politicians who are deceiving us," he said.

He denied that LTTE’s terms for peace were contrary to its pronouncements and called for the restoration of "normal living patterns" in the country’s war-torn northeast as a pre-condition for the resumption of a dialogue.Top

 

Clinton visit decision by Sept-end

KARACHI, Sept 6 (AP) — An armed Muslim militant group today warned US President Bill Clinton not to go through with his scheduled visit to Pakistan and threatened resistance if he dares to go ahead with his plans.

“We know that he is likely to cancel his visit to Pakistan, but if he doesn’t, we will resist it,” Hafiz Mohammad Syed, chief of the Lashkar-e-Tayaba group, said in a news conference. He refused to say what means the group might consider.

Later yesterday, Mr Clinton’s chief security aide said India and Pakistan had made insufficient concessions on their nuclear weapons programmes to justify a presidential visit to the area.

There’s been some movement (but) not enough at this point to justify going, Mr Sandy Berger said in Ireland, where Mr Clinton is visiting. The trip is very much tied to what they agree to do.”

The Lashkar-e-Tayaba is engaged in an armed struggle in the portion of Kashmir province that is controlled by India.

The US attack against terrorist training camps in the Muslim nations of Afghanistan and Sudan last month has fanned anti-American sentiment in much of the Muslim world, including Pakistan.

The US strikes were in retaliation for the bombings of its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The USA linked these bombings to a renegade Saudi billionaire Osama bin Laden.

The USA has already withdrawn nearly half its diplomatic staff and all embassy members’ families from Pakistan, and warned the American citizens against visiting the country.

Mr Syed said Laden was a hero of Islam because he was waging a jehad, or holy war, against the USA. “If there are any more attacks by the USA on Afghanistan, we will respond in the same manner.... and will launch a jehad,” he said.

BALLYBUNION (Ireland): US President Bill Clinton will decide by month-end whether or not to cancel his trip to India and Pakistan over their nuclear weapon tests, a senior White House official said.

“We will have to decide by the end of September,” White House National Security Adviser Samuel Berger said.

The trip, tentatively set for mid-November, “is very much tied” to what India and Pakistan agree to do, Mr Berger said, adding that “there’s been some movement, (but) not enough”.

Some White House officials say Mr Clinton should call off the trip to protest against the nuclear testing while others argue he should go ahead to deliver his concerns in person.

LIMERICK (Ireland): If US President Bill Clinton was a troubled man, he failed to show it to the tens of thousands of Irish people who greeted him here, including a nun with the reassuring words “we’re all sinners”.

Support for Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky sex-and-perjury scandal has been unwavering in Ireland, a fact that has surprised many in a country where voters showed their moral conservatism by approving divorce by only the slenderest of margins in a November 1995 referendum.

An elderly, blue-robed nun blamed the media for Clinton’s predicament and the worst criticism to be heard from the crowds was that he should have been more careful.
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Laden hideout raid planned before blasts

WASHINGTON, Sept 6 (AFP) — The USA had plans for a raid inside Afghanistan to capture alleged terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden months before the embassy bombings in Africa, The New York Times reported today quoting senior US officials.

US officials however decided against kidnapping raid because of the risk involved to US servicemen and Afghan civilians, the paper reported.

The raid was supposed to take place at an unspecified date in the second quarter of 1998, according to the Times.

The operation was drawn up once US intelligence officials had broad information linking bin Laden to a series of terrorist attacks on US targets over the past years, the officials told the newspaper.

The CIA-devised plan was for the US commandos to enter Afghanistan, kidnap bin Laden and take him to the USA to face charges.

However the CIA Director George Tenet and other top officials cancelled the plan because of the likelihood of a high casualty rate during the attack, according to the Times.

US intelligence officers were still working on ways to capture bin Laden when bombs ripped through the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on August 7, killing 263 people.

NEW YORK, (AP): American intelligence officials drew up plans last spring for a covert raid to capture Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.

The planning began after US military, intelligence and law-enforcement officials concluded they had ample evidence linking bin Laden to a series of anti American terrorist attacks in recent years, the newspaper reported.

Developed by the CIA and US Special Forces months before the August bombings of two US embassies in east Africa, the secret plan called for the US forces to extricate the Saudi millionaire from his hideout in Afghanistan and bring him to justice in the USA.

The mission was ultimately scrapped by the CIA Director.

The Cruise missile strikes the USA launched against Afghanistan and the Sudan to retaliate for the bombings were a much lower risk operation than the proposed raid and did not result in any American casualties. But it also did not bring them bin Laden.
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Director Kurosawa dead

TOKYO, Sept 6 (AP) — Japan’s most famous film director, Akira Kurosawa, died at his home today at the age of 88, Kyodo news agency reported.

Kurosawa’s films included epics such as “The Seven Samurai” and ‘Rashomon’. His work inspired a generation of directors both in Japan and in the USA.

The cause of death was not immediately known.

Kurosawa, known as “The Emperor” for his perfectionism and extravagance, was one of the few Japanese directors to find fame on international screens.

The Cannes film festival honoured Kurosawa with a special trophy for achievement upon the debut of his 28th film, “Ran”, or “Chaos,’’ in 1985.

The epic, which Kurosawa called his “life’s work”, was named best picture of the year by America’s national society of film critics. With a price tag topping $10 million, Ran was the most expensive movie in Japanese film history.

Take myself, “Subtract Movies”, and the Remainder is “zero”, the director once wrote. His themes often asserted the value of the warrior spirit, humanist ideals, and the urgency of self-sacrifice even if futile.

Critics have found his innovative style celebrated for its elaborate detail and sweeping camera movements influencing foreign films from George Lucas’ “Star Wars” to Brian Depalma’s Scarface.

Kurosawa’s movies include “Rashomon” (1950), the “Seven Samurai” (1954), “Throne of Blood’’ (1957), “Yojimbo” (1961), and “Kagemusha”, or “Shadow Warrior” (1980).

Born in Tokyo in 1910 to a family that had held Samurai rank, Kurosawa was the youngest of eight children of a military school administrator.

He turned to the cinema after failing to get into art school and tiring of poverty as a painter. In 1936 he stumbled on a film studio’s advertisement asking people to audition for an assistant directorship, tried out, and got it.

At 33 he directed his first film, “Sanshiro Sugata” (the Judo saga). It was a hit in wartime Japan, but Kurosawa’s vision conflicted with some nationalist sentiments, and drew heated attacks from the military.

His work did not win much applause abroad till “Rashomon” got the academy award for best foreign film in 1951.
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Computer hacker cracks India’s N-computer

AUCKLAND, Sept 6 (AFP)— A New Zealand teenage computer hacker who broke into computers at India’s nuclear research facility has also managed to break into Turkey’s facility and says others are targeting Pakistan, the weekly “Listener” magazine reported today.

It named him only as “Venomous”, an 18-year-old living in Christchurch who is part of a small group of hackers calling themselves “Milworm”. Two other key players were “JF” and “Savecore”.

The group managed to break into India’s Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and change its web page to produce an anti-nuclear message, the magazine said.

“Venomous” said he had strong views about the proliferation and testing of nuclear weapons and pointed to the French testing site at Mururoa atoll.

The group changed the Centre’s home page to carry an anti-nulcear message. The page has now been changed back but the hacked version can still be seen at www.hektik.com/hacked/milworm12.html .

“Venomous” said protesting at nuclear testing was one thing but changing the home page was far more effective. “People pay attention when you do that”, he said.

He said they had also broken into the Cekmece Nuclear Research and Training Centre in Turkey but did not change anything this time. Top

 

Queen’s pay rise faces axe

LONDON, Sept 6 (AFP) — The British Treasury is to cut the Queen’s annual pay rise in a radical reform of Royal finances, The Sunday Times reported.

Chancellor Gordon Brown, is said to be appalled that the Royal family has been getting an annual 7.5 per cent increase in state funding, known as the Civil List.

Mr Brown is planning to cut the pay rise to 2.5 per cent. The new arrangement would begin in January 2001, when the current 10-year Civil List deal, struck with the former Conservative government, expires.

Detailed accounts of how the Royals spent their Civil List money during the 1990s will also be published.

Payments to the Queen, the Queen Mother and the Duke of Edinburgh under the Civil List total 8.9 million a year.

Sir Michael Peat, the Queen’s treasurer, conceded the 7.5 per cent annual increase had been too generous. “There will be a surplus on the Civil List,” The Sunday Times quoted him as saying.

While hostility towards the Royal family appears to have declined in the year since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, Mr Tony Blair’s Labour government believes there is public support for a tough line on Royal finances.
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Global Monitor
  Two more held for embassy blasts
WASHINGTON: Tanzanian investigators have arrested two suspects in the August 7 bombing of the US Embassy in Dar-es-Salaam, the Washington Post reported in its Sunday’s edition. Quoting unidentified Law Enforcement sources, the newspaper also said the FBI had filed an arrest warrant seeking a third suspect in the almost simultaneous bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi. The three new suspects are alleged Islamic extremists with links to Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, according to the Post. — PTI

PML on Shariah Bill
ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has convened a meeting of the parliamentary party members of PML (Nawaz) on Thursday to discuss ways of reaching a consensus on the Shariah Bill after most of his allies and opposition parties refused to support the Bill. Sources said the government was trying to establish contacts with other parties in a bid to solicit their support. The controversial 15th Constitution amendement bill, or the Shariah Bill, seeks to establish the Koran and the Sunnah as the supreme law of the land. — UNI

70 houses burnt
JAKARTA: At least 70 houses were set ablaze in an industrial township close to Jakarta after a battle between two rival gangs, Indonesian newspapers reported on Sunday. The Merdeka daily reported that 70 houses were burned on Friday in the industrial town of Bekasi following a fight between the two gangs. The fire lasted till Saturday. The arson was triggered by the discovery of the body of a Bekasi resident, Muranto, on Friday. His death caused Muranto’s group to attack a rival group. —Reuters

Eternal President
SEOUL: North Korea on Saturday named its founding father Kim Il Sung as “eternal president,” the Korea Central News agency said, apparently confirming reports the post had been abolished. The official mouthpiece announced the constitution had been amended during the maiden session of the country’s new Parliament, elevating Kim to President for life. His son and successor Kim Jong Il, who had been expected to succeed his father as President, was earlier re-elected head of the powerful National Defence Commission, but did not assume the title of President. — AFP

Swissair apologises
ZURICH: A Swiss newspaper has apologised for a full page advertisement it published recommending a prayer book for people who want to buy cheap airline tickets. The advertisement for the SSR travel agency appeared on Saturday, three days after a Swissair jet plunged into the Atlantic off Nova Scotia, killing all 229 persons on board, including 41 Swiss. The ad in the weekly magazine that appears in Zurich’s Tages-Anzeiger and the Berner Zeitung newspapers showed a black prayerbook with a page marker that read: “recommended reading for anyone who wants to fly cheaper than with SSR”. — Reuters

24 hostages freed
MOSCOW: A group of sailors from Dagestan released 24 school children and teachers they had taken hostage on Saturday at a nuclear base in Russia’s Arctic north, Interfax news agency reported. It gave conflicting reports on how the hostage-taking ended. Initially, Interfax said the sailors had given themselves up but it later reported one of them had been wounded when special forces disarmed the group. None of the hostages was hurt.— Reuters

Viagra concerns
BOSTON: The potential health dangers of the anti-impotence drug Viagra, especially for men with heart problems, may be more extensive than warnings indicate, said researchers in New England Journal of Medicine. Letters published in the journal on Thursday raised new red flags about Viagra for men with heart trouble and disclosed a possibly fatal lung complication. Another letter tracked bladder infections in women whose spouses said they used the drug. Official with Pfizer declined to comment on the letters, and referred to the response from the Viagra researchers.—Reuters

Satellite, not missile
WASHINGTON: US experts are examining North Korean claims that it fired a satellite and not a missile earlier this week, even as the latter today boasted of its first successful satellite launch. According to reports in the USA, the initial conclusion was that North Korea might have fired both a small satellite with the first stage and a 1,250-mile range missile over Japan with the same rocket in the second stage. But communist Pyongyang’s official media feted Monday’s launch of what it said was a three-stage rocket carrying a satellite.

Hanson may go
SYDNEY: A tactical ploy by Australia’s government and opposition could force anti-immigration legislator Pauline Hanson out of Parliament at the October 3 election. Hanson remains the most popular candidate in her seat in Conservative Queensland state, but vote-swapping by the liberal-national government and Labour opposition could defeat her, a poll in the Queensland based Sunday newspaper said. — ReutersTop

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