|W O R L D||
Thursday, October 22, 1998
|Obstacles overcome in
W. Asia talks
King Hussein joins parleys
WYE MILLS (Maryland), Oct 21 Palestinian and Israeli leaders were set to resume intense negotiations for the seventh consecutive day today in a bid to reach a peace agreement, but US officials cautioned against too much optimism on a deal.
Pak for arms parity
|US stand on Pak
WASHINGTON, Oct 21 Describing the US stand towards Pakistans nuclear programme as uneven and opportunistic, a top think tank has slammed Washington for providing Islamabad with non-military equipment and significant financial support despite being fully aware of its nuclear ambitions.
empowers Clinton to relax sanctions
|UN again refuses seat to Taliban
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 21 The United Nations has refused again to recognise the Taliban as Afghanistans legitimate government and kept the UN seat with the representative of President Burhanuddin Rabbani.
blast toll over 700
Obstacles overcome in W. Asia talks
WYE MILLS (Maryland), Oct 21 (Reuters) Palestinian and Israeli leaders were set to resume intense negotiations for the seventh consecutive day today in a bid to reach a peace agreement, but US officials cautioned against too much optimism on a deal.
US President Bill Clinton was at the secluded retreat of Wye plantation on Marylands eastern shore until the early hours of Wednesday in an effort to get Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to clinch an agreement.
Mr Clinton, who has dedicated five days so far to the talks, received some help yesterday from Jordans King Hussein, who left his sick bed to help try to break 19 months of stalemate in the West Asia peace process.
The arrival of King Hussein, who played a pivotal role in securing a 1997 pact on a pullout of Israeli forces from Hebron, added momentum to the talks.
Sources close to the talks said the king made some progress on security and Israels demand that the 700-member Palestine National Council (PNC) be convened to change a Palestinian charter calling for Israels destruction.
IANS adds: After six days of negotiations, US President Bill Clinton, helped by Jordans ailing King Hussein and others, appears to have goaded Israeli and Palestinian leaders into talking serious business, thus reviving the prospects of a breakthrough in the 19-month-old stalemate in the Middle East peace process.
State Department spokesman James Rubin said the talks had reached the endgame stage. Were into a phase of very hard bargaining. A lot of the underbrush has been cleared away. He, however, acknowledged that some obstacles have been overcome, but significant gaps remain.
The talks were to end on Sunday but now, according to some officials, they might continue with Clinton around. They do not rule out the possibility of a signing ceremony in the case of success in resolving the contentious issues.
According to reports, the two sides are close to some sort of agreement, envisaging security guarantees sought by Israel as a precondition for any concession, particularly in territorial terms, to the Palestinians.
Mr Clinton appears to have won substantial territorial concessions from Israel, including abandoning control on 14.2 per cent of the West Bank that is now shared with the Palestinians in addition to the 13 per cent, which formed part of the original proposal.
In return, the Palestinian side is seriously considering amending their charter to delete its provision questioning the existence of the Jewish state in the region, according to reports.
The reports also spoke of an understanding between the two parties to delay the consideration of a third-phase redeployment of the Israeli troops, leaving that to US Middle- East envoy Dennis Ross for mediation at a later stage.
The accord, the details of which are still to be worked out, reportedly provides for jailing of suspected terrorists instead of their extradition to Israel as originally sought by the Jewish state. These suspects are wanted in Israel for the alleged crimes they had committed in pursuance of their political goals.
The arrangement was reportedly finalised at the dinner that President Clinton had with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat on Monday at the secluded Wye River Conference Centre in Maryland, about 70 miles from here, the venue of their meeting.
After the violent incident in Israel in which 64 persons were wounded, the Jewish side insisted on negotiating only the security issue, but Mr Clinton persuaded them to discuss other related matters, including the establishment of a safe passage for the Palestinians between Gaza and the West Bank.
Mr Clinton has put his
prestige on line on his Middle-East diplomatic
initiative. It was Mr Clinton who sent for King Hussein
for help. The King is currently undergoing treatment for
cancer in Minnesota. Secretary of State Madeline Albright
formally invited King Hussein to the peace talks.
Pak for arms parity with India
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 21 (IANS) Pakistan has told the UN that while it is ready to explore possibilities for mutual restraint to avoid a nuclear arms race in South Asia, it cannot accept disparity in conventional arms with India.
Mr Muhammad Siddique Kanju, Pakistans Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, told a UN panel, which deals with disarmament and international security issues that Islamabad could not accept a bid to restrain capabilities at unequal levels which could seriously jeopardise mutual deterrence.
He said the UN should not divest itself of responsibility of finding a solution to the Kashmir dispute despite the resumption of bilateral dialogue between the two countries.
Noting that the UN Secretary General had recognised the Kashmir dispute as a possible nuclear flashpoint, he said Kashmir indeed held the key to resolving security crisis in South Asia. But, he said, it would not be sufficient to lower tensions over Kashmir, there must be a genuine progress towards a just solution based on the freely expressed wishes of the Kashmiri people.
Mr Kanju referred to resumption of the Foreign Secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan and said these had addressed the priority issues of peace and security and Jammu and Kashmir. He however, did not comment on the outcome of the talks.
Noting that while the priority is to achieve durable peace and security in South Asia which involve nuclear and conventional arms restraint, he said it (the process) must also be based on the principles of equal security and equal treatment of both Pakistan and India. The stability of mutual deterrence might also be adversely affected by those countries asymmetry in conventional weapons, he said.
That asymmetry was growing steadily due to embargoes against Pakistan by some major states and the massive arms acquisitions by India, particularly from Russia, Mr Kanju said. He said that the impact of such asymmetry could be further exacerbated once India acquired the S-300 missile systems and additional anti-aircraft systems.
Concerted action was needed by the international community to redress the conventional inequality which would inevitably intensify Pakistans reliance on its nuclear capabilities, he added.
In his long speech before the First Committee, Mr Kanju claimed that while Indias nuclear tests had destabilised the 20-year-old existential deterrence in the region, Pakistans tests had re-stabilised the mutual deterrence. He said it was sad and regrettable that many friends had failed to make that distinction and added that the sanctions against Pakistan were unfair and unjust, especially since these had hurt Pakistan much more than India.
He said Pakistan was
conscious of the need for avoiding a nuclear or
conventional arms race in South Asia as well as of the
need to comply with non-proliferation goals. But he said
the international community had focused on the
non-proliferation rather than the security implications
of the tests.
US stand on Pak opportunistic
WASHINGTON, Oct 21 (PTI) Describing the US stand towards Pakistans nuclear programme as uneven and opportunistic, a top think tank has slammed Washington for providing Islamabad with non-military equipment and significant financial support despite being fully aware of its nuclear ambitions.
US reaction at Pakistans (nuclear) programme has been very uneven as well as opportunistic, President of the US-based Institute for Energy and Development Mr Arjun Makhijani says in a new book.
US strategic plans during the cold war and the desire for a partner in the region led it to look the other way during Pakistans development of nuclear weapons, Makhijani says in The Science for Democratic Action, released here at a press conference today.
But after Soviet troops were driven out of Afghanistan, Pakistan was subjected to US sanctions and rebukes more often than neighbouring India. The harsh US policy has been driven at least in part by a disproportionate concern about proliferation in Islamic countries, Makhijani says.
Pakistan used its new status as a nuclear weapons power to get more attention to its call for an international, rather than bilateral resolution of the Kashmir dispute, he says, adding India has rejected most of Pakistani proposals.
He also says the effect of US sanctions will be greater on Pakistan than on India because of its economic weakness.
Makhijani asserts that the only solution for the nuclear problem is total abolition of all nuclear weapons.
However, he says: those nuclear weapon states that could offer the greatest leadership on disarmament measures, namely the USA, have shown by their actions and statements that they have no plans to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.
Steps towards disarmament are halting, inadequate and reversible. Moreover, they are piecemeal and too narrow in scope. Many of them seem oriented to non-proliferation to the exclusion of disarmament by nuclear weapon states, he says.
Makhijani proposes a plan
for complete abolition of all nuclear weapons in the
world which includes dealerting nuclear weapons, shutdown
of all nuclear weapons production and testing facilities
and unilateral declarations of no-first-use policies by
all nuclear weapon states.
House empowers Clinton to relax sanctions
WASHINGTON, Oct 21 (PTI) US President Bill Clinton has been empowered to relax economic sanctions against India and Pakistan with the US House of Representatives approval of the omnibus bill which includes a $ 500 billion spending package for fiscal 1999.
Under the legislations passed yesterday, the US Administration has now been granted the authority to waive sanctions against India and Pakistan for a year excluding those relating to military use and technology and dual-use items.
However, the waiver authority does not necessarily mean that sanctions will be lifted, a State Department official here said, adding that it was rather being viewed as a prelude to jump-start negotiations with the two countries.
UN again refuses seat to Taliban
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 21 (AP) The United Nations has refused again to recognise the Taliban as Afghanistans legitimate government and kept the UN seat with the representative of President Burhanuddin Rabbani.
As it did last year, the UN Credentials Committee yesterday deferred a decision on the two sets of credentials it received from representatives of the Taliban and Mr Rabbani, meaning the seat will stay with Mr Rabbanis envoy for another year, diplomats said.
Russia proposed the deferral, and was supported by Zimbabwe, China, Fiji and the USA, a diplomat who attended the 15-minute-long meeting said. Other members of the committee include New Zealand, Jamaica, Venezuela and Mali.
The 185-member general assembly will have the final decision but generally follows the recommendation of the committee.
The Taliban militia, which controls about 90 per cent of Afghanistan, had said it expected the seat would again be given to Mr Rabbanis representative, but nevertheless intensified efforts to gain the seat and the international recognition it confers.
The Talibans envoy in New York, Abdul Hakeem Mujahid, had made the rounds of the countries on the committee and lobbied for the Taliban cause. Today he will meet Karl R. Inderfurth, US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian affairs.
Mr Mujahid outlined the
Taliban position in a 10-page document that lists the
reasons why the Taliban should be recognised as the true
government of Afghanistan and explaining their position
on human rights, womens rights, drug proliferation
and tensions with Iran and other neighbouring countries.
Nigeria blast toll over 700
WARRI (Nigeria), Oct 21 (Reuters) Emergency medical teams battled to save victims of Nigerias pipeline inferno today as the death toll climbed to over 700.
More than 200 injured people have died in the past 24 hours according to reports from various hospitals in the area, an official of the Delta state health service in Warri told newsmen.
The United Nations Childrens Fund the Red Cross and the World Health Organisation yesterday despatched emergency medical teams to help overstretched hospitals around Warri that were filled with an estimated 1,000 injured.
More than 300
unidentifiable dead were buried on Monday and yesterday
near the site, where about 2,000 men, women and children
fetching petrol with cans and buckets from a burst
pipeline were engulfed in flames.
McCurry defends remark
BOSTON, Oct 21 (Reuters) Former White House spokesman Mike McCurry found himself defending his characterisation of President Bill Clinton as a richly qualified leader who was exasperatingly stupid in his personal life.
Mr McCurry, who made the
remarks on Monday at a speech in Pittsburgh, was in
Boston to speak at Suffolk University yesterday when he
told reporters: You have to be disappointed with
someone you have put a lot of faith in when he does
something like that.
Saddam has cancer, says Israeli TV
JERUSALEM, Oct 21 (AP) A report on Israels channel 2 TV has said that Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein is suffering from cancer.
Quoting unnamed western and European sources yesterday, the report said the Iraqi ruler had been undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer for some time.
A Kuwaiti newspaper had
reported last week that Mr Hussein was suffering from
colon cancer, however, there was no public indication
that the Iraqi ruler was seriously ill. In the past 10
days he has chaired three sessions of the Iraqi Cabinet,
all shown on Iraqi television.
|Poor Russian reporters
MOSCOW: More than 60 per cent of Russian reporters earn less than $ 50 a month and many arent receiving salaries because of the latest economic crisis, the head of the Journalists Union has said. The paltry salaries are largely a result of the August 17 devaluation of rouble, which sent the currencys value against the dollar plummeting. Most rouble-denominated salaries have not been raised to keep up with the resulting inflation. AP
Man with AIDS
Man dies at 130
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