|W O R L D||
Wednesday, December 29, 1999
|Chechen Presidents HQ
MOSCOW, Dec 28 Russian Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev said today Russian forces had made a breakthrough in their drive on Grozny, but local media reported that determined rebels were using mines and oil fires to defend the Chechen capital.
UNP says no to Chandrika
Russian soldiers in a Grozny district cover their ears as they shell Chechen rebel positions on Monday. Russian troops had gained the upper hand in the Chechen capital and were advancing towards the city centre as rebel defenders ran out of ammunition, Defence Minister Sergeyev said. AFP
|Prisoners release: talks
JERUSALEM, Dec 28 Israelis and Palestinians failed to resolve a dispute over the release of Palestinian prisoners and a long-overdue Israeli withdrawal from parts of the West Bank, Palestinian negotiator Saef Erakat told AFP.
toll rises to 50
returns to earth
to run again
Chechen Presidents HQ destroyed
MOSCOW, Dec 28 (Reuters) Russian Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev said today Russian forces had made a breakthrough in their drive on Grozny, but local media reported that determined rebels were using mines and oil fires to defend the Chechen capital.
Troops and pro-Moscow Chechen paramilitaries launched a concerted attack on the city, the last rebel stronghold in lowland Chechnya, four days ago. They quickly ran into stiff resistance from about 2,000 rebels thought to be holed up in city basements and sewers.
Russian units and the Chechen militia have achieved a breakthrough in Grozny, Interfax news agency said, quoting Mr Sergeyev. It did not say what the breakthrough was.
Interfax said over the past 24 hours several raids had been made against rebel bases in the mountains and had destroyed the headquarters of President Aslan Maskhadov.
Mr Sergeyev, in an interview with the Krasnaya Zvezda army newspaper, said there was virtually no chance Moscow would negotiate with Maskhadov, whom he accused of siding with terrorists.
It is impossible to draw a line between him and the terrorists, Mr Sergeyev said. That is why I think that the real possibility of talks with Maskhadov is close to zero. And Maskhadov himself seems to understand it.
Mr Sergeyev also declined to name city districts under Russian control, but said Russian forces were methodically closing in on the city centre from several directions.
It said the rebels had ignited oil-filled trenches throughout the city and thick smoke-screens, created by the blazing oil, prevented troops taking aim accurately.
The agency said bad weather also complicated things for the attacking forces. Early today, thick fog grounded all warplanes, Russias main trump card in Chechnya.
South of Gronzy, troops were pushing rebels deeper into the mountains, Interfax said. It quoted officers in the eastern front as saying troops had encircled several mountainous villages including Nozhai-Yurt and Zandak and were tightening the noose around Vedeno.
Meanwhile, Russias first deputy chief of the armed forces, Gen Valery Manilov, said Russian troops, fighting Chechen rebels in Grozny, have reached areas two km from the city centre.
In the north,
northwest, northeast and south our troops are steadily
noving towards the centre and...are standing at distances
ranging between two to three km and four to five km from
it, he declared.
UNP says no to Chandrika
COLOMBO, Dec 28 (PTI) Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratungas efforts to form a national government with the Opposition United National Party (UNP) in a bid to find a political solution to the ethnic problem has suffered a major setback with the UNP family rejecting her invitation.
A combined meeting of the UNPs Working Committee and Parliamentary Party yesterday decided on an emphatic no to Ms Kumaratungas oral invitation to Mr Ranil Wickramasinghe to join her new government.
Ms Kumaratunga had urged Mr Wickramashinghe to join her government after she defeated him in last weeks presidential poll.
Even as it rejected the Presidents proposal to join the government, the UNP unanimously decided to support any meaningful steps taken by her government to solve the ethnic conflict, a party spokesman said.
The UNPs decision is very much in line with Mr Wickramasinghes recent remarks that he preferred to extend support to Ms Kumaratungas peace moves from outside the government and at the same time preferred to wait till he received any concrete proposals from her.
Meanwhile, even as the latest development has taken place, senior UNP leaders have openly admitted to the local media that several party MPs were currently engaged in secret discussions with the ruling Peoples Alliance to cross over to the government.
Five dissident UNP members left the party last month and formed an alternative UNP group in Parliament, two of them being made ministers in Ms Kumaratungas cabinet. Media reports here said 10 more UNP MPs were ready to cross over.
A senior minister and
confidante of Ms Kumaratunga yesterday said the
government was planning to table a bill in Parliament to
permit members to cross over to other parties. It would
enable the disgruntled UNP MPs to overcome all legal
hurdles while crossing the floor.
Greenwich to keep electronic time
LONDON, Dec 28 (DPA) The historic status of Greenwich as the home of time is to be assured for the new millennium under a scheme to make the London site the global timekeeper for the internet, The Times reported today.
The paper said British Prime Minister Tony Blair will this week announce the creation of Greenwich electronic time known as GET to act as an international standard for all electronic commerce.
The move will provide a common 24-hour clock for internet traders and users around the world in the same way that Greenwich mean time has helped travellers to keep time since 1884. Then the worlds 25 leading nations agreed the need for a single time reference based around a uniform nautical and astronomical 24-hour day.
GET is set to be launched on New Years Day by the Prime Minister and Patricia Hewitt, the E-Minister at the Department of Trade and Industry.
One senior Whitehall source said: because people measure time from GMT, we are pretty confident this is going to take off. It is a stroke of genius. It plays to the Prime Ministers whole thing about making Britain the best in the world for E-commerce, and it goes nicely with the millennium and Greenwich.
The project will give all Internet companies and consumers a single time standard.
All E-mail messages and E-commerce transactions already carry a time stamp based on co-ordinated universal time the modern equivalent of GMT. But most computer clocks have software which converts E-mail and message dates into local time. Supporters of GET argue that although this is suitable for personal E-mails, it is not workable for worldwide electronic trading.
As more companies move online, purchase and delivery times have to be exact across all time zones to avoid legal and logistical problems.
Prisoners release: talks fail
JERUSALEM, Dec 28 (AFP) Israelis and Palestinians failed to resolve a dispute over the release of Palestinian prisoners and a long-overdue Israeli withdrawal from parts of the West Bank, Palestinian negotiator Saef Erakat told AFP.
Mr Erakat said yesterday that he met chief Israeli negotiator Oded Eran one-on-one in a west Jerusalem hotel for a couple of hours.
Unfortunately, we dint reach any agreement on any of the issues, he said.
Israel had announced on Sunday that it would release more than 24 prisoners as a gesture of goodwill to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for the Muslim holy month of Ramzan.
Some 33 prisoners from the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem will be released. That is a very small number and we are not happy, Mr Erakat said.
Eleven Palestinians have between two and six months of their sentence left. They were going to be released soon anyway, he added.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak met Mr Arafat in secret on December 21 to try to resolve the dispute over both the prisoners and the withdrawal.
A senior Palestinian official, who asked not to be named, told AFP after that meeting that the two leaders had made progress.
accepted the Israeli maps for a second redeployment and
the Israelis promised to meet Palestinian demands on the
two remaining redeployments according to the agreements
as signed, the officials said, without specifying
Ambon toll rises to 50
JAKARTA, Dec 28 (Reuters) Christians and Muslims battled through the night in the ravaged eastern Indonesian island of Ambon, and the police and residents today said the number of dead from two days of sectarian violence could exceed 50.
The latest violence erupted in Ambon, provincial capital of the Moluccas, on Sunday after reports that a 14-year-old Muslim boy had been run over by a vehicle driven by a Christian.
We still can hear shooting and explosions. The situation is tense. There is a blackout in a number of areas, a policeman told Reuters on the phone from Ambon, 2,300 km east of Jakarta.
At least 38 persons have died in the renewed fighting, some of the fiercest violence to hit Ambon, already battered by almost a year of communal violence. But residents said the death toll would rise.
hasnt stopped since last night. I am sure the death
toll could reach more than 50 this afternoon, said
a Church source. Another source said at least 20
Christians had been killed in the violence.
Sudanese crisis resolved
KHARTOUM, Dec 28 (Reuters) A senior official of Sudans ruling National Congress Party has said a breakthrough has been achieved in reconciling President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and his rival Islamist Parliament Speaker Hassan al-Turabi.
Chairman of the consultative council of the National Congress Party Abdel Rahim Ali yesterday said it had been agreed that Bashir should remain chairman of the party while Turabi should continue as secretary-general.
The decision was taken
at a meeting of the council, which brought Bashir and
Turabi together for the first time since Bashir declared
a three-month state of emergency and dissolved parliament
on December 12.
Discovery returns to earth
CAPE CANAVERAL, Dec 28 (AP) Space shuttle Discovery and its seven-member crew returned to earth after fixing the Hubble space telescope during a Christmastime mission that gave NASA badly needed success.
Air force Col Curtis Brown landed the shuttle at 0001 GMT (0531 IST today) at Kennedy Space Center.
Welcome back to earth after a fantastic flight, said mission controls Scott Altman.
NASA passed up the first opportunity for the shuttle to land at 2218 GMT (0448 IST) because of concerns about crosswinds on the runway. Instead, Discovery made the 13th night landing in the history of the shuttle programme.
Kohl loses ground
BERLIN, Dec 28 (AP) Helmut Kohl faced fresh attacks today from fellow Christian Democrats who increasingly view the former Chancellor as a political burden because of his refusal to help clear up a party funds scandal.
Deputy party chief
Christian Wulff insisted that nothing can be
covered up, kept secret after Kohl admitted to
receiving up to 2 million marks ($ 1 million) in
apparently illegal campaign funds while he was the party
Fujimori to run again
LIMA, Dec 28 (Reuters) Perus President Alberto Fujimori has said he will run for an unprecedented third term in Aprils elections in a bid to consolidate his free market reforms and tough anti-rebel policies of the last decade.
Polls show voters could
re-elect the two-term leader, the hemispheres
longest-serving democratically elected President, despite
economic downturn, widespread human rights criticism and
opposition accusations his candidacy is unconstitutional.
|Storm toll rises to 100
PARIS: A new killer storm hit France and Spain late on Monday, just a day after Europes worst-ever tempest, with the total death toll topping 100 as a trail of destruction swept across the continent. France bore the brunt of the fierce winds for the second day running. The storm hit the south-west of the country leaving at least 12 dead and one fisherman missing at sea. Many were injured by falling trees and debris. A further five persons died in northern Spain . AFP
6 killed in plane crash
Party shows door
to former PM
centurys best director
in stolen vehicle
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