|Friday, January 7, 2000,
Contentious issues slow down
Lanka may extend emergency
Bombers parents, sister held
Pope ordains bishops
after Chinas snub
Pak not to beg for
talks with India
USA assures help in fighting
Oxford Dictionary to go online
1 b illiterate in world: Unicef
Clinton scandal papers on net
Congo rebels kill 210 troops
Contentious issues slow down Israel-Syria talks
WASHINGTON, Jan 6 (PTI) Spurred on by key facilitator, the USA, warring neighbours Israel and Syria have begun talks in right earnest in Shepherdstown, 110 km from here, to arrive at a peace deal between the two nations that have so far fought three wars.
Setting aside initial differences, over the agenda, that threatened to derail the talks, Israeli and Syrian negotiators got down yesterday to the serious business of thrashing out finer points of any potential deal under the watchful eyes of U S officials.
Under a compromise deal brokered by the USA, two teams of negotiators met for face-to-face talks to look into security arrangements and steps to restore ties, between the two nations, that are even, now officially at a state of war. US officials were present on both occasions. Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the mood at the talks as frosty.
Two other committees that are to look into Israels access to fresh waters of the sea of Galilee after return of the Golan Heights, captured by Israel from Syria in the 1967 war, and the Israel-Syrian borders, have not been convened yet.
In Washington, State Department spokesman James Rubin told newspersons at a press briefing that the talks were proceeding at a very slow pace and Mr Clinton could join the two sides in a bid to impart the talks the much-needed momentum.
Mr Rubin was cautiously optimistic about the talks saying the discussions were "constructive, business-like and positive, given the complex and sensitive nature of the negotiations. We are chugging along and not on the fast-track yet."
At the White House, spokesman Jim Fallin said Mr Clinton would decide what steps he might take next to "facilitate" the talks. Mr Clinton, who has been to Shepherdstown twice already, may also make another trip today to egg on the two sides.
Mr Rubin said Ms Albright told both Israeli Premier Ehud Barak and Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al-Sharaa that the USA would like to see more progress in negotiations. Ms Albright had a meeting over lunch with Mr Barak and a separate meeting with Mr Sharaa as the two committees met.
"They werent specific discussions, they were much broader talks about how we can get from chugging along unto a fast track," Mr Rubin said. This would include not only arriving at a treaty but also expanding areas of agreement, he said.
DAMASCUS (Reuters): Syria today hammered home the message that it would accept nothing less than full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights as a condition for making peace with Israel.
"No peace can be achieved until the principle of withdrawing from the entire Golan is unconditionally accepted by Israel, said the English-language official newspaper, Syria Times.
The US Administration yesterday pressed both sides to come up with new ideas after they failed to agree even on where the talks stood when they broke off in 1996. Syria and Israel resumed peace talks in Washington last month after a four-year break.
"...Even if all procedural hurdles like the one which marked the start of the second round of talks in Shepherdstown are cleared, a solution to the conflict is unlikely to be achieved without a full commitment to return to the June 4, 1967 lines," it said.
Lanka may extend emergency
COLOMBO, Jan 6 (Reuters) Sri Lankas Deputy Defence Minister asked Parliament to extend the state of national emergency by a month today, citing recent bomb blasts in the capital.
The debate comes a day after a woman suicide bomber, a member of the rebel LTTE, blew herself up in front of the Prime Ministers office, killing at least 13 persons.
"Several key figures in the political arena have become the targets of the (LTTE) terrorists...," Mr Anuruddha Ratwatte told Parliament.
He cited the attack on December 18, when a woman suicide bomber triggered an explosion at an election rally led by President Chandrika Kumaratunga, which killed at least 26 persons, saying the state of emergency should be extended to maintain law and order, public security and preserve public property.
He also spoke of a second bomb that exploded the same day at a meeting of Sri Lankas main opposition United National Party in a Colombo suburb. At least eight persons were killed.
The Sri Lankan police arrested more than 105 persons in connection with yesterdays suicidal bomb blast near the Prime Ministers office and the subsequent slying of Tamil politician Kumar Ponnambalam.
A senior police officer said these people were taken into custody from Pettah and Wellawatha areas last night and were being interrogated.
The investigation into yesterdays suicide bomb attack has revealed that the bomber might have been targeting a government minister who was expected to take that route, senior police sources said.
Meanwhile, President Chandrika Kumaratunga has declared that she will quit politics once the islands ethnic crisis is resolved and urged opposition leader Ranil Wickramasinghe to sincerely back her peace initiative before forming any national government.
"I am waiting to solve the problem and then make an exit from politics. I am not interested in power and that was the reason why I conducted mid-term presidential poll", Mrs Kumaratunga said in a television interview.
Amid speculation that
the government planned to introduce a new Bill permitting
mass defections from the ranks of opposition UNP to get
her package of peace proposals ratified in Parliament,
Mrs Kumaratunga in a marathon television interview had
laid down conditions for her earlier proposal for a
Bombers parents, sister held
COLOMBO, Jan 6 (PTI) The Sri Lankan police has arrested the parents and a sister of the suicide bomber, who blew herself up in front of Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaikes office here yesterday and rounded up nearly 200 Tamils for interrogation, state radio reports and the police said today.
A team of police detectives arrested her parents and the sister from their residence at Akkraipattu in eastern Batticaloa district, the Sri Lankan Broadcasting Corporation said.
It said the suicide bomber, born to a Tamil father and a Sinhalese mother, had joined the LTTE one-and-a-half years ago.
Earlier, the police had arrested one person, believed to an accomplice of the bomber.
The police has already started a full-scale investigation into yesterdays blast. It is believed that the woman suicide bomber, accompanied by a man, had arrived at the scene in the morning. Sometime later, the woman had gone with him and returned alone.
Investigation has also begun into the gunning down of Mr Kumar Ponnambalam, believed to be the handiwork of a youth known to him.
Several persons, including the employees at Mr Ponnambalams residence, have already been questioned by the police.
The police has launched a man hunt for a Tamil youth believed to be behind yesterdays murder of a pro-LTTE politician even as a hitherto unknown group, the "National Front Against Tigers", claimed responsibility for the killing.
Investigators probing the killing quoted family sources as saying that Kumar Ponnambalam was last seen leaving his residence in a Benz car with Shanthan, believed to be behind his death, seated next to him.
A bitter critic of President Chandrika Kumaratungas government and an open supporter of the LTTEs demand for a separate homeland for Tamils, Mr Ponnambalam was the leader of All Ceylone Tamil Congress.
Meanwhile, in a statement, signed by its self-styled commanding officer Vijya Rana Bahu, said Ponnambalam had been killed for carrying on a tirade against the majority Sinhalese and for defending the LTTEs fight against the Sri Lankan army.
Meanwhile, in the wake
of a spate of suicide bomb attacks, the Sri Lankan
Government tonight clamped a 14-hour curfew beginning
midnight in the capital and its suburbs to facilitate
massive cordon-and-search operations, an official
Pope ordains bishops after Chinas snub
VATICAN CITY, Jan 6 (Reuters) Pope John Paul ordained 12 new bishops worldwide today, hours after China bluntly defied his authority by installing five bishops for its state Catholic Church in a blow to efforts for closer ties.
The Polish Pontiff, resplendent in gold robes, made no mention of the Chinese ordinations but told the congregation in a packed St Peters Basilica that the new bishops he was sending out into the world represented the universal catholic church.
"Dear brothers...You come from different nations and represent the universality of the church that adores the word made flesh for our salvation, the Pope said in his homily.
"Around you, in spirit from various parts of the world, the faithful gather to whom you are sent as successors of the apostles, he added.
The Popes authority as head of the one-billion member Roman Catholic Church is based in part on his sole right to appoint bishops and cardinals. China views the issue as one of national sovereignty and has created its own Bishops since 1957.
Beijings five new
bishops included three in their thirties. Selected by the
Patriotic Catholic Association. They were installed in a
ceremony presided over by Liu Yuanren, head of the
Chinese Bishops Conference.
Pak not to beg for talks with India
ISLAMABAD, Jan 6 (UNI) Pakistan would hold dialogue with India only if New Delhi took an initiative to improve bilateral ties, Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf has said.
"We will not beg for talks with India. We would enter into talks with equality. We cant compromise our honour and dignity," he said, adding that given the kind of "maligning" India was up to, the environment was not congenial for dialogue.
General Musharraf was talking to newspersons at an Iftar party hosted in honour of him and President Rafiq Tarar by Muslim missions in the capital on Tuesday.
Asked if Pakistan would start counter-moves to check the Indian "propoganda" in the backdrop of the recent hijacking incident of an Indian Airlines plane, General Musharraf said: "The truth is on our side. The facts are totally on our side. We do not have to make counter-moves as such."
He claimed that the international community, media and other governments did not believe the Indian stance on hijacking. "They are all appreciative of Pakistans and Talibans role in tackling the hijacking incident," he added.
Meanwhile, Brig Rashid
Quereshi, spokesman of Pakistans de facto ruler Gen
Pervez Musharraf, has said India might have transferred
the hijackers of Indian Airlines flight IC-814 to one of
its planes from Kandahar after the hijackers surrendered.
USA assures help in fighting terrorism
WASHINGTON, Jan 6 (PTI) The USA has asserted that it will not rest until the hijackers of the Indian Airlines plane are brought to justice and vowed to strengthen cooperation with India in combating terrorism.
"The USA, as a government, will not rest until those who perpetrate those kinds of activities (hijacking and terrorism) are brought to justice," White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart told reporters yesterday.
"As far as the hijacking, we support a full investigation that is aimed at apprehending and prosecuting the hijackers. We do that, and what is important here, is that those who were responsible are brought to justice," he noted.
When a correspondent suggested that though the USA and India were discussing on combating terrorism together why was the latter left alone in fighting the menace, Mr Lockhart retorted. "No, I think those people who say that are wrong. I think we were in close touch with the Indian Government throughout the (hijacking) incident".
"Were also continuing to work with India on a series of efforts to strengthen our cooperation on fighting terrorism," he said.
Asserting that USA would curb perpetrators of all kinds of terrorism domestically and internationally, he said "whether it is an act of terror directed against Americans or whether it is directed against others, we can find a way to support their investigations."
Meanwhile, Britain and other members of the European Union have vowed to continue their support to India and other states in fighting international terrorism.
"We condemn without reservation international terrorism in all its forms," British Foreign Office Minister John Battle said in a statement on behalf of the 15-member EU presidency yesterday.
Oxford Dictionary to go online
ONE OF the crowning glories of British literary culture the unique,116-year-old full Oxford English Dictionary (OED) could cease to exist in up-to-date book form after it goes online on a subscription website in three months time.
No decision has yet been taken about whether to produce a new print edition of the dictionary, which runs to 20 volumes and costs £ 1,800 (US $ 2,900).
But "the internet is simply the way forward for all big reference projects, Ms Juliet New, spokeswoman for the Oxford University Press (OUP) online project, said on Tuesday.
Loss of the OED book version would be the biggest inroad the Net has yet made into the printed word. Until the mid-1990s the OUP was pressing ahead with a US $ 57m scheme to bring out an updated, revised book edition in 2010, linked to a new CD-ROM version. This would have been the third printed edition.
The first section, edited by Sir James Murray, came out in 1884 and the first full edition in 1928. It evolved unchallenged into the worlds biggest, most authoritative dictionary, esteemed for its comprehensive lists of historical word usage as well as meaning. The second edition came out in 1989.
But the third book edition has now been shelved in favour of the internet launch in March.
New words and updates will be added on the website rather than in print.
What the dictionarys Chief Editor, John Simpson, calls "a dramatic change of plan was prompted chiefly by the USA. He said staff met a growing expectation among academics "that online searching of major reference and other textual resources would soon become a principal medium of access".
The switch to electronic lexicography follows three years of discussion and market research.
Ms New said: "A lot of that time was spent going to institutions and individuals to find out what they wanted. We know there is a potential and a market. We would never have gone into it otherwise.
The online version is expected to grow into a monster twice the size of the second print edition which already stretches to some 40,000 pages thanks to supplementary volumes issued during the 1990s with a total of 9,000 new entries.
In March, a further 1,000 new entries will be added to the Internet version. More new entries will go online four times a year; and many of the two million existing quot- ations will be continuously revised until under existing plans the new edition is regarded as complete in 2010.
The OUP plans to charge annual licence fees to users. On Tuesday it refused to disclose how much, but said individuals would pay less than corporate users or libraries.
1 b illiterate in world: Unicef
ISLAMABAD, Jan 6 (ANI) The world has entered the new millennium with an estimated one billion illiterate people, about 130 million of them children in the developing countries. To educate all children the United Nations International Childrens Emergency Fund (UNICEF) says, the world will need to spend an additional $ 7 billion per year over the next 10 years which is less than the amount spent annually on cosmetics in the USA or on icecream in Europe, and less than a tenth of the worlds annual military spending.
The growing number of functional illiterates, two-thirds of them women, in the world will not only lack the knowledge to operate a computer but also be unable to fill a simple application form. UNICEF said more than 130 million children of primary school age in developing countries, including 73 million girls, were growing up without access to basic education.
"The world can no longer afford such an enormous waste of human potential." UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said. She pointed out that the consequences of illiteracy are profound and even potentially life-threatening.
Yet, despite these
ringing affirmations over the past half-century, about
855 million people are functionally illiterate. Of the
130 million children growing up without access to basic
education, girls represent nearly two out of every three
in the developing world. There is an unmistakable
correlation between education and mortality rates,
especially child mortality.
Clinton scandal papers on net
NEW YORK, Jan 6 (Reuters) Documents from the sex scandal that led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in connection with his affair with Monica Lewinsky will be posted in their entirety on the Internet next week, a leading publisher has said.
Random House said yesterday that the documents used extensively by one of its authors, Jeffrey Toobin, in his new book on the scandal would be available on Tuesday, (January 11) at www.vastconspiracy.com.
In a brief interview, Toobin said none of the documents had been available in their entirety before, including the full text of Paula Jones affidavit describing the "distinguishing characteristics" of Clintons private parts.
Jones, whose sexual
harassment suit against Clinton brought the Lewinsky
affair to light, alleged that Clinton exposed himself to
her at a Little Rock, Arkansas hotel in 1991 when he was
Arkansas Governor. Clinton denied that allegation.
Congo rebels kill 210 troops
KIGALI, Jan 6 (Reuters) Rebel fighters have killed at least 210 government troops in two bouts of fresh fighting on the northwestern front in the democratic republic of Congo, a rebel leader said.
Mr Jean-Pierre Bemba, who heads the Ugandan-backed Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC), told Reuters that 150 government troops were killed early yesterday during an attack on the rebel-held fishing village of Kuka.
Douglas to wed Zeta-Jones
New South Korean
Kennedy backs Al
not to be quizzed
Red Cross halts
relief after raid
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