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‘Roll back N-arms plan’
BEIJING, March 5 — China and the USA have reaffirmed their resolve that India and Pakistan must roll back their nuclear weapons programme, a Chinese Foreign Ministry said today.

Iranian war games spark protests
DUBAI, March 5 — The UAE along with other Gulf states have slammed Iranian military manoeuvres on three occupied islands describing them as "provocative" and asked Tehran to end the islands’ occupation.


Holding their London Film Critics' Circle Awards, are Actress of the Year Cate Blanchett (right), given for her role in the movie Elizabeth, and British Actress of the Year Helena Bonham Cater, for her work in "The Wings of the Dove," at the awards ceremony in the London Dorchester Hotel on Thursday.— AP/PTI
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Yeltsin advised to limit work
MOSCOW, March 5 — Hospitalised Russian President Boris Yeltsin has been advised by his doctors to deal with only “such state documents which are of utmost importance for the state,” according to Russian official agency “Novosti”.

Italian cablecar disaster: Acquittal causes anti-US backlash
A tidal wave of anti-American fury was building up in Italy last night (Thursday) after it was learnt that a court martial in the USA had acquitted the pilot whose plane cut through a cable car line last year sending 20 passengers to their death.

Mobutu men capture town
KINSHASA, Mar 5 — A rebel force composed mainly of soldiers who served late dictator Mobutu Sese Seko have taken the strategic town of Bolobo, upstream from the Democratic Republic of the Congo capital Kinshasa, government sources said.

Dwarf grows taller
LOS ANGELES, March 5 — It took three years of having her limbs broken and stretched and a year in a wheelchair, but for Joanna Vaughn it was all worth it when she stood up and looked her mother in the eye for the first time.

Yeltsin sacks CIS leader
MOSCOW, March 5 — Russia’s most powerful statesman and press baron Boris Berezovsky has been dismissed from his posts, including Executive Secretary of the Common wealth of the Independent States.

Rawabdeh sworn in Jordan PM
DUBAI, March 5 — King Abdullah of Jordan has named veteran West Asia peace campaigner Abdul-Raouf Rawabdeh as the country’s new Prime Minister in his first major political move after assuming the throne last month.

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Roll back N-arms plan’

BEIJING, March 5 (PTI) — China and the USA have reaffirmed their resolve that India and Pakistan must roll back their nuclear weapons programme, a Chinese Foreign Ministry said today.

“China and the USA and the international community will continue to stick to the resolution no. 1172 of the UN Security Council,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said commenting on this week’s talks between Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan and US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

“During the visit of the US Secretary of State, China and the USA exchanged views on international and regional issues of common concern including South Asia,” Mr Zhu told PTI.

To a question, the spokesman said both sides reiterated that they would continue to strengthen consultations and cooperation on the South Asian nuclear issue.

During last month’s Sino-Indian Foreign Ministry-level talks here, Beijing adopted a tough stand on the nuclear issue urging New Delhi to implement resolution no. 1172 adopted by the UN Security Council soon after the Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests.Top

 

Iranian war games spark protests

DUBAI, March 5 (PTI) — The UAE along with other Gulf states have slammed Iranian military manoeuvres on three occupied islands describing them as "provocative" and asked Tehran to end the islands’ occupation.

An emergency ministerial meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) held in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi also backed the UAE sovereignty over the islands of Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Moussa.

"The ministerial council condemns these provocative Iranian military manoeuvres being held by Iran of the three occupied UAE islands. and in UAE territorial waters", the GCC said in a statement yesterday after the meeting.

The GCC backed the UAE in the dispute and also asked Tehran to end occupation of the islands.Top

 

Yeltsin advised to limit work

MOSCOW, March 5 (UNI) — Hospitalised Russian President Boris Yeltsin has been advised by his doctors to deal with only “such state documents which are of utmost importance for the state,” according to Russian official agency “Novosti”.

Doctors have fixed a very limited working schedule for the President, whose fresh bleeding stomach ulcer forced him to get hospitalised again.

Though describing Mr Yeltsin’s condition as stable, doctors have refused to give any date for his release from the hospital, located in the suburbs of Moscow.

That the Communist party, the largest group in the Duma (Lower House of Parliament), continues to demand the President’s ouster is clear from party Chairman Gennady Zyuganov’s statement last night that accord or no accord between the legislative and executive wings of power, his party does not trust a word voiced by the President.

“Civil peace in Russia can materialise only with a change in the country’s social and economic course and a voluntary abdication of the presidential seat by Mr Yeltsin,” Mr Zyuganov said.

Meanwhile, a ‘ceasefire’ pact between the presidential outfit, Cabinet and the legislature would be signed in mid-March, according to the Voice of Russia.

The provisions of the draft document envisage a promise by the president to refrain from using his powers to disband the Duma, which in return will not launch any impeachment proceedings against him, and the Cabinet will being freedom to act without seeking the vote of confidence in Duma.Top

 

Italian cablecar disaster
Acquittal causes anti-US backlash
from John Hooper in Rome and
Julian Borger in New York

A tidal wave of anti-American fury was building up in Italy last night (Thursday) after it was learnt that a court martial in the USA had acquitted the pilot whose plane cut through a cable car line last year sending 20 passengers to their death.

A US military jury in North Carolina yesterday acquitted Richard Ashby, a marine captain who was piloting the Navy “Prowler” jet that sliced through cables at a ski-resort in a valley near Cavalese in the Italian Alps on February 3 last year.

Captain Ashby’s family cheered in the courthouse at Camp Lejeune marine base when the jury, after seven hours of deliberation, found the accused not guilty on 20 counts of involuntary manslaughter and four other charges.

But in Italy, the emotion was violent anger, from all points of the political compass, putting the government on the defensive while striving desperately to preserve its traditional warm relations with Washington, The Prime Minister, Massimo D’Alema, a former communist at the helm of a broad based administration, astonished many of his followers with his initial reaction. Speaking in Boston on the eve of his first meeting with President Clinton since assuming the premiership five months ago, Mr D’Alema said: “I don’t comment on court verdicts in Italy, much less those in the United States”. Back in Rome one of his own junior defence ministers, Mr Paola Guerrini, described the verdict as “scandalous”.

Mr Valdo Spini, a member of Mr D’Alema’s Left Democrats and chairman of the defence committee of Italy’s Lower House said he was “bewildered and indignant”.

He called the outcome “a verdict that takes no account of the Italian authorities’ ban on low-level flying and which fails to do justice to the victims of the accident’’. According to Mr Romano Prodi, who was Italy’s Prime Minister at the time of the tragedy, regulations in force since 1955 prohibit foreign aircraft from flying any lower than 2,000ft.

The cable at the Italian site was cut 370ft above the ground.

A senator in Silvio Berlusconi’s right of centre Forza Italia (Come on Italy,) party, Francesca Scopelliti, asked: “If the pilot is innocent, then who is guilty of the multiple killings?”

“They do not understand the verdict,” said Mr John Eaves, a lawyer for relatives of the German victims. “If he’s not responsible, who is?” The prosecution had argued that Capt Ashby had been “flat-hatting”-flying his electronic warfare Prowler recklessly in a display of “Top Gun” bravado, when his wing sheared the cables. Flight recorders showed he had not only flown much lower but also much faster than US military regulations allowed for the mission, codenamed “Easy 01”. The limit was 517mph, but the jet was travelling at 621mph.

Defence lawyers said the pilot was unaware of the restrictions. They pointed out that the cable was not marked on military maps, the Prowler’s altimeter was not functioning properly and the pilot had suffered from an optical illusion that made the ground look further away than it was.

“All of a sudden,” Captain Ashby said in his testimony, “I saw this cable. It was as if somebody threw a baseball at your head, and it was already coming at me.”

Under cross-examination, he conceded that “mistakes were made”. He admitted that he had not paid close attention to his radar equipment and acknowledged that many flight maps did not include every potential obstacle on the ground. But he insisted: “There’s a difference between responsibility and criminal responsibility.”

Both marines had removed a video-cassette taped during the fatal flight, in what the prosecution described as a cover-up. Mr Spinner said the navigator had not been able to get the camera to work and believed there was nothing on the tape.

After the accident, numerous local people came forward to say that apparently dangerous low-level flying was common in the area, which has several ski resorts. Mr Mauro Gilmozzi, the mayor of Cavalese, said the sentence signified that “killing 20 people means absolutely nothing”.
— The Guardian, London
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Mobutu men capture town

KINSHASA, Mar 5 (Reuters) — A rebel force composed mainly of soldiers who served late dictator Mobutu Sese Seko have taken the strategic town of Bolobo, upstream from the Democratic Republic of the Congo capital Kinshasa, government sources said.

Several thousand rebels captured Bolobo, on the Congo river about 250 km north east of Kinshasa, on Monday, the sources said yesterday.

“There are 3,000 to 4,000 of them, composed mainly of former Special Presidential Division (DSP) forces. They control Bolobo,” one source told Reuters, adding that they had crossed over from the neighbouring Congo Republic to take the town.

The DSP was particularly feared by ordinary people in Zaire, the name of the Democratic Republic of the Congo under Mobutu.

Unconfirmed reports suggested that the rebels had advanced as far south as Kwamouth, about 100 km further down the Congo river towards Kinshasa.

A group calling itself the Union of Nationalist Republican for the Liberation, in a statement released in the Congo Republic capital Brazzaville on Monday, said that its forces had taken Bolobo on Saturday without any fighting.Top

 

Dwarf grows taller

LOS ANGELES, March 5 (Reuters) — It took three years of having her limbs broken and stretched and a year in a wheelchair, but for Joanna Vaughn it was all worth it when she stood up and looked her mother in the eye for the first time.

Vaughn, 22, was born a dwarf but in the past three years she has grown 30 cm and now stands 1.52 metres tall, thanks to an experimental procedure that sounds rather like a mediaeval torture rack.

“It’s different being at the height I’m at now,” Vaughn told Reuters in an interview from her home in South Carolina. “Before, I was used to looking up at people, but I stood up the other night and I looked at my mom. She’s 5’2’’ (1.57 metres) and I looked her right in the eye. That was neat to see.”

Back in 1992, Vaughn became excited after seeing a local news broadcast about an experimental limb-lengthening procedure being done at Cedars-Sinai medical centre. The broadcast said doctors at the famed Los Angeles hospital used a technique where patients could gain 25-30 cm in height and about 10 cm in the length of their arms.

Like many Americans born as dwarfs, Vaughn was tired of being unable to reach things on shelves or tie her shoe laces, and most of all of not being able to look people in the eye. So she contacted the doctors to find out more.

Two years later, Vaughn began the lengthy procedure pioneered by Dr Jose Marie Vilarrubias in Barcelona, Spain. It began by breaking both lower leg bones with surgical hair-line fractures. Then external devices were attached by metal pins.

For the next few months she or a family member turned the adjusters to separate the bone by another 1.2 millimetres every day. As new bone grew to fill the space she grew in stature.

Once she had gained 15 cm in height, the procedure was repeated on her upper arms, which were eventually lengthened by 10 cm. Finally, both her upper legs were broken and 15 cm of height was gained.

To most people, having both legs and both arms broken only to have both legs broken again sounds like a nightmare, but Vaughn said the procedure was surprisingly painless.

“It sounds like it’s very painful but its not. There’s really no pain with it,” she said with a laugh. “When people look at the fixators, they say, ‘that looks so painful.’ It’s not really. The only discomfort I ever had was if the bars got cold. It just made my legs kind of achy.”

Now, with just a few months left to complete the process, Vaughn says it is the simple things that make it worthwhile. She no longer has to get her clothes altered, she can drive a car without having the pedals lengthened, and she can put her hands in her pockets.Top

 

Yeltsin sacks CIS leader

MOSCOW, March 5 (UNI) — Russia’s most powerful statesman and press baron Boris Berezovsky has been dismissed from his posts, including Executive Secretary of the Common wealth of the Independent States.

Of late, Mr Berezovsky has been waging a frontal attack on Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and his key ministers, accusing them of corruption.

Recently Mr Berezovsky’s major daily Neza Visimaya Gazeta, had gone to the extent of saying that the President was going to sack the Prime Minister any time.Top

 

Rawabdeh sworn in Jordan PM

DUBAI, March 5 (UNI) — King Abdullah of Jordan has named veteran West Asia peace campaigner Abdul-Raouf Rawabdeh as the country’s new Prime Minister in his first major political move after assuming the throne last month.

Mr Rawabdeh (60) and 22 members of the new Cabinet were sworn in by the king at a ceremony in Amman on Thursday, reports reaching here said.

Mr Rawabdeh, an MP and a former Mayor of Amman, has served as minister five times in the past, including once as Deputy Prime Minister in 1995.Top

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Global Monitor
  Governor hurt, 3 die in blast
ANKARA: Four people, including a young child, were killed and the Governor of a central Turkish town was seriously wounded in a car bomb attack today, Anatolian new agency said. The blast took place at Cankiri, 80 km northwest of Ankara, and well outside the normal confines of a separatist campaign by the Kurdistan Workers Party guerrilla group. A prosecutor in Cankiri told a television station that the bomb, planted in a parked car, was detonated by remote control as Governor Ayhan Cevik drove past on his way to work. — Reuters

Hillary blasts Taliban
UNITED NATIONS: U.S. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton blasted Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers as probably the world’s worst oppressors of women. In a speech on Thursday at the United Nations marking International Women’s Day next Monday, she also called for a worldwide campaign to halt international trafficking in women and children. — Reuters

Y2K ‘accident’
KIEV: The year 2000 computer bug could trigger a “nuclear accident” in Ukrainian atomic power stations, the former director of the ill-fated Chernobyl plant warned claiming that the government has not taken the danger seriously enough. “I would not like to imagine the worst but one can rule out nothing, including a nuclear accident,” said Sergei Parachin, the former head of the Ukrainian nuclear power station which exploded in 1986 in the worst-ever civilian nuclear disaster. — AFP

Two Laden men held
NOUAKCHOTT: Two Islamic fundamentalists suspected of belonging to an underground network run by Saudi-born millionaire extremist Osama Bin Laden, have been arrested in Nouakchott, reliable sources in the Mauritanian capital. One of the two, Mohamed Yahya Ould Saad, 25, a Mauritanian national, spent from 1993 to 1997 in Afghanistan where he is believed to have undergone training at military camps set up by Bin Laden, judicial sources here said on Thursday. — AFP

Posh Spice’s baby
LONDON: Victoria Adams, better known as Posh Spice of the British pop group the Spice Girls, gave birth to a boy at a private London hospital. He will be called Brooklyn Joseph Beckham, said Adams’ fiancÚ, Manchester United and England footballer David Beckham, adding that mother and baby were doing “very well”. Beckham said: “Victoria is very well. — AFP

Ms Netanyahu’s secret
RAMAT GAN, Israel: An Israeli civil court took a step toward revealing secrets from the previous marriage of the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Sarah Netanyahu, the Prime Minister’s third wife, has been fighting in the name of privacy to keep her ex-husband Doron Netanyahu from publishing an autobiography containing secrets from their marriage and showing her in an unfavourable light. — AFPTop

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