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Thursday, August 13, 1998
Taliban capture two more
South African President Nelson Mandela and Palestinian Liberation Organisation leader Yasser Arafat during a meeting in Cape Town on Tuesday. Arafat is on a three-day official visit to South Africa. AP/PTI
Taliban capture two more towns
KABUL, Aug 12 (Reuters) The Taliban movement captured two key northern towns today dealing a further blow to the Opposition, a Taliban official said.
Taliban spokesman Abdul Hayee Mutmaen said by telephone from Kandahar, the militia headquarters in southern Afghanistan, that Pul-i-Khumri in Ghaglan province was seized by its fighters.
The Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) news agency reported that the Taliban had also seized Hairatan, a river port town on Afghanistans northern border with the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan. It said the Taliban had arrested 200 Opposition fighters after a brief clash with the forces of ethnic Uzbek faction leader, Rashid Dostum. There was no independent confirmation of the report.
Mutmaen said the Taliban forces were rapidly advancing in the south after fighters loyal to Ahmed Shah Masood, the military chief of the ousted Afghan Government, fled towards neighbouring Bamiyan and Samangan provinces.
Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic press earlier reported the fall of Nahrin, one of Masoods military headquarters, to militia fighters today morning.
The Taliban fighters passed through Nahrin to reach Pul-i-Khumri, which is less than 51 km south.
Pul-i-Khumri, about 230 km north of Kabul, is a key town on the Salang highway connecting the Afghan capital with the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif that was captured by the Taliban on Saturday.
AIP said the militia had arrested about 600 Masood fighters who had surrendered to Taliban at Nahrin. The militia also said they had seized 12 Opposition tanks and thousands of guns. Nahrins fall deprives Masood of a key supply route to his stronghold the Pansher valley some 90 km northeast of Kabul from where he defied the Soviet invaders.
Meanwhile, Afghanistans Taliban movement has said it could put captured Iranians on trial on charges of spying as they had not been registered as diplomats.
The Taliban Foreign Ministry issued the statement while reacting to Irans charge that Taliban forces had detained 11 of its diplomats and a correspondent of the official news agency Irna in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif after capturing it on Saturday.
The Taliban Government of what it calls the Islamic emirate of Afghanistan on Monday denied capturing any Iranian diplomats but said it had arrested 35 Iranian truck drivers who had been delivering ammunition to opposition forces.
MOSCOW, (AFP): The Ambassador in Russia of Afghanistans deposed President Burhanuddin Rabbani has accused Pakistan of virtually occupying Afghanistan, the Russian Interfax news agency reported.
Ambassador Abdul Wahhab Assessi told a press conference that the current offensive by the radical Islamic Taliban militia had been launched under the command of Pakistan and with the direct involvement of its armed forces.
The Afghan people has reached a new stage when all ethnic, religious and other groups must unite to fight the invaders, as was the case during the war against British and Soviet invaders, Mr Assessi said.
He urged all Afghan wherever they are to fight to defend their country, and called for pressure to be brought to bear on Pakistan to force it to stop aiding the Taliban.
Iraq sets conditions before UN envoy
BAGHDAD, Aug 12 (AFP) An official Iraqi newspaper said today that the sanctions-hit country would no longer accept bargaining over weapons inspections ahead of the arrival of the UN special envoy in Baghdad.
Iraq appreciates the efforts exerted by the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to arrive at a balanced compromise but hopes he realises that it can no longer tolerate bargaining or partial solutions, said Babel newspaper, owned by Uday Saddam Hussein, the elder son of the Iraqi President.
Iraq will listen attentively to UN Special Envoy Prakash Shah who will see a determined effort by Iraq to obtain all its legitimate rights, chiefly the lifting of the oil embargo and the closing of all the disarmament files, Babel said.
VIENNA: Iraqs decision to end cooperation with United Nations weapons inspectors has made it impossible to fully investigate the countrys nuclear programme, weapons inspectors said today.
to co-operate in any activity involving investigation of
its clandestine nuclear programme makes it impossible for
the IAEA to investigate, in the context of its OMV, the
remaining questions and concerns relevant to that
programme, the IAEA said in a statement.
From snooker hall to
TO the boom of cannon and the drone of Muslim prayers, a snooker-crazy 24-year-old former Oxford student with a passion for Bon Jovi became heir on Monday to the throne of the tiny, oil-rich and scandal-rocked sultanate of Brunei.
At a 75-minute investiture ceremony in Bruneis sprawling 1,788-room royal palace, Prince al-Muhtadee Billah Bolkiah heard an uncle read the proclamation from a silk scroll borne on a golden cushion, before receiving a jewel-encrusted kris, or dagger, putting him in line to become the 30th ruler of one of the worlds last absolute monarchies and certainly its richest.
Until last year, Prince Billah enjoyed the carefree life of a student at Oxford and sometime competitor at international snooker meets, with a fondness for soccer, badminton and rock music all indulged under the assumed commoners name of Omar Hassan to ward off unwanted attention.
On Monday before 4,000 royal relatives, dignitaries and diplomats in a cavernous palace hall with gold-painted walls, Prince Billah heard a 10-minute prayer, then kissed the hands of his 52-year-old father, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, his mother, and the part-British former airline hostess who became his fathers second wife.
Sporting a gold crown and a gold tunic in place of the natty waistcoats he donned for snooker, the sombre-looking prince climbed on to a chariot-born throne to be pulled through the rain-soaked streets of the Bruneian capital under the gaze of its pampered populace.
Sultan Hassanal, who turned out in military uniform complete with sword, has taken some care to give his son respectable Muslim credentials instead of the extravagant appetite for fast cars, casinos and call-girls reputedly indulged by some of the royal brothers.
On the eve of his investiture, he spent nearly three hours at prayers in Bruneis mosque. But after two years of studies, it seems he now finds himself plunged into local palace politics and the arts of running a semi-feudal sultanate blessed with lavish wealth but buffeted by scandal and the backlash of Asias economic turmoil.
Conspicuous by his absence at Mondays ceremony was Prince Billahs uncle Jefri. He is locked in a row with the Sultan, who has ordered an investigation into murky financial transactions by which Jefri is rumoured to have lost US $ 16 billion.
In the meantime, he has stripped Jefri of control of Bruneis flagship holding company, Amandeo, with a portfolio of investments that ranges from Londons Dorchester Hotel, acquired for pounds 40 million (US $ 64 m at todays rates) in the mid-1980s, to Aspreys, the London jewellers, the New York Palace Hotel, and huge telecommunications assets.
Few details would normally
emerge in public in this secretive sultanate, which gives
its citizens free education and health care but no say on
government, and has been run by royal decree under a
state of emergency ever since the first stirrings of
democracy in 1962 brought an abortive anti-monarchist
revolt. The Guardian, London
Sihanouk ready to host talks
PHNOM PENH, Aug 12 (AFP) Cambodias King Norodom Sihanouk is prepared to host talks between the countrys feuding three main political parties in order to prevent a political crisis following last months election, leading dissident Sam Rainsy said today.
The 75-year-old monarch gave his assent during an audience with members of Sam Rainsys self-named opposition party in Siem Reap town where the King is now staying, Sam Rainsy said.
The King said he would be prepared if requested to do so, to host a Siem Reap informal meeting, or Sim where he would play the role of bridge between the leaders of the political parties, he said.
He said he wants to see a dialogue established between the main parties and if that dialogue cannot take place in Phnom Penh he would be happy to create the condition for such a dialogue to take place, Mr Rainsy added.
He said his party would
support a call for such talks but there was no immediate
reaction to the idea from the other two parties involved;
the de facto ruling Combodian Peoples Party of
strongman Hun Sen and the royalist Funcinpec
Party of the Kings son, deposed co-Premier Prince
Suu Kyi stopped by securitymen
YANGOON, Aug 12 (Reuters) Myanmar security forces stopped Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi today while she was travelling in a car to meet supporters in the west of the country, government officials said.
They said the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner was stopped close to Anyarsu village, west of Yangoon.
Earlier, Suu Kyi defied the military government today by leaving her home here to visit supporters outside the capital.
Officials said that Suu
Kyi was stopped near the same point on a similar trip in
late July. Anyarsu is west of Yangoon and close to a
bridge which was the site of a six-day stand-off between
Suu Kyi and securitymen last month.
Clintons friend questioned
WASHINGTON, Aug 12 (AP) Prosecutors questioned Hollywood producer Harry Thomason and White House lawyer Cheryl Mills before a grand jury, examining damage control efforts in the early days of the Monica Lewinsky controversy.
Mr Thomason, a longtime friend and informal adviser to President Bill Clinton, was warned early on by lawyers not to learn too much about the Presidents relationship with Ms Lewinsky because he might have to testify about it, said sources familiar with Mr Thomasons role.
The sources said he told prosecutors he had general political conversations with First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton about the Lewinsky controversy, but didnt talk to her about specifics.
Habitat Award for 2 African groups
NAIROBI, Aug 12 (IPS) Two East African groups are among the 10 organisations which will receive the 1998 Habitat Award for the best practices in improving the living environment.
The Kipepeo project of Kenya and the Community Infrastructure-upgrading Programme (CIP) of Tanzania are among this years award winners, Mr Arcot Ramachandaran, a former Under Secretary of the Nairobi-based United Nations centre for human settlements (Habitat) announced.
Mr Ramachandaran, who chaired the jury, told journalists here that the awards would be presented by Dubai Municipality, with each winner receiving a $ 30,000 prize, a trophy and a certificate.
2 Indian Americans among
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