Wednesday, January 19, 2000,
Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

US First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is greeted by the Rev. Reginald Williams of the Charity Baptist Church before delivering her speech at the Convent Avenue Baptist Church’s Martin Luther King Jr. celeration function on Monday in New York
US First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is greeted by the Rev. Reginald Williams of the Charity Baptist Church before delivering her speech at the Convent Avenue Baptist Church’s Martin Luther King Jr. celebration function on Monday in New York. — AP

Respect Panchsheel spirit: China
BEIJING, Jan 18 — China today hoped that India would "fully respect" and "implement" the principles of Panchsheel, guiding the Sino-India relations, while dealing with the 17th Karmapa issue.

Sharif case adjourned again
KARACHI, Jan 18 — The judge hearing the case against ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today delayed a decision by one day on whether formal charges can be laid even though the prosecution has not handed over key evidence.

Israel-Syria talks postponed
WASHINGTON, Jan 18 — Prospects for peace between Israel and Syria hung in balance after a new round of talks set to take place in the USA this week was postponed.

Russians ‘reach’ centre of Grozny
MOSCOW, Jan 18 — Russian soldiers said they had reached the centre of the Chechen Capital Grozny today, ITAR-Tass reported.



EARLIER STORIES
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Iran may build N-weapons: CIA
WASHINGTON, Jan 18 — The Central Intelligence Agency has told the Clinton administration that Iran may be able to build nuclear weapons, the New York Times has reported, citing unnamed government officials.

Hijackers’ leader ‘wept’ thrice
DUBAI, Jan 18 — The leader of the hijackers, who recently commandeered an Indian Airlines aircraft, cried at least on three occasions, frustrated over the way negotiations were going on regarding their demands, according to Capt Devi Sharan, the pilot of the plane.

Mariah Carey poses with her special Award of Achievement at the American Music Awards on Monday night in Los Angeles
Mariah Carey poses with her special Award of Achievement at the American Music Awards on Monday night in Los Angeles. — AP/PTI

Twain, Brooks win music awards
LOS ANGELES, Jan 18 — Canadian country-pop singer Shania Twain and soul ingenue Lauryn Hill each won two prizes at the American Music Awards yesterday, but neither turned up to claim their hardware.

Where cocaine is ‘currency’
PENAS COLORADAS (Colombia), Jan 18 — A soft drink costs just under a gram, a meal between three and five grams and a handful of fishhooks about two. The currency here is cocaine.

Insat-3B launch in March
PARIS, Jan 18 — India’s Insat-3B communication satellite will be launched from Kourou space station in French Guyana in March and once operational, the satellite will augment India’s satellite-based mobile communication system, officials said here today.

‘Aide of Arkan’s killer wounded’
BELGRADE, Jan 18 — An accomplice of the killer of Serbian warlord Arkan was wounded in the shooting and was lying unconscious in a hospital, Serbia’s Politika newspaper reported.
Top




 

Respect Panchsheel spirit: China

BEIJING, Jan 18 (PTI) — China today hoped that India would "fully respect" and "implement" the principles of Panchsheel, guiding the Sino-India relations, while dealing with the 17th Karmapa issue.

"We hope the Indian side would handle this issue in accordance with the principles of Panchsheel," Foreign office spokesman Zhu Bangzao said when asked at a press conference about the Chinese stand on the fleeing of the 14-year-old boy Lama Urgyen Trinley Dorji from Tibet to India.

Mr Zhu said "The non-interference in each others internal affairs is one of the principles. We hope that this principle can be fully respected and implemented in the development of relations between China and India."

He did not say whether China has responded to India’s request for more information on the Lama’s escape from Tibet.

Last Friday, India had called in the Chinese Ambassador and requested details from Beijing regarding the departure of the 17th Karmapa.

NEW DELHI: The Himalayan Buddhist Cultural Association (HBCA) has made a formal request to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee urging him to grant 17th Karmapa Urgyen Trinley Dorji the permission to stay in India.

Submitting a joint memorandum, the HBCA and Tibet Support Group highlighted the importance of the Karmapa’s spiritual education and its impact on the large population of Buddhists residing in the country.

"The Indian Government should recognise the daring attempt made by Urgyen Trinley Dorji, the third highest Tibetan religious leader, and beef up his security cover besides providing him a refugee status," HBCA President Lama Chosphel Zotpa said in a statement here.

He said the government should not think of sending Dorji back to China as he would be another young political prisoner after Panchem Lama.

"This decision would bring joy to Buddhists all over the world especially those living in the country from Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh," he said.

Meanwhile, a delegation of the joint action committee of All-Sikkim Buddhist Organisation today left Gangtok for Delhi to urge the Prime Minister to let the Karmapa come to the Rumtek monastery and be ‘enthroned’ there.

The monastery which is the headquarters of the Kagyu sect of Buddhists has remained headless since November 1981.Top

 

Sharif case adjourned again

KARACHI, Jan 18 (Reuters, AFP) — The judge hearing the case against ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today delayed a decision by one day on whether formal charges can be laid even though the prosecution has not handed over key evidence.

Anti-terrorism court Judge Rehmat Husain Jafri had earlier said he would make a decision by 2.30 p.m.

The prosecution was yesterday ordered to hand over key evidence but still had not done so.

Mr Sharif, his brother Shahbaz and five former aides are accused of criminal conspiracy, attempted murder, waging war against Pakistan and hijacking — which can carry a death sentence.

The case has dragged on in the courts for two months without formal charges being laid, and yesterday the judge ordered the prosecution to take one of the lawyers representing the defence to Karachi airport to witness the copying of tapes made at the air control tower on the day of the alleged hijacking.

Prosecutor Raja Qureshi told the court that the copying of the tapes would take time and that the laying of the charges did not have to wait until the evidence was handed over. The defence argued that a delay was needed because the tapes were so important.

"The only evidence the prosecution has to use to connect (the accused with the hijacking) are the conversations on the tapes,’’ said Mr Sharif’s lawyer Khawaja Sultan.Top

 

Israel-Syria talks postponed

WASHINGTON, Jan 18 (AFP, DPA) — Prospects for peace between Israel and Syria hung in balance after a new round of talks set to take place in the USA this week was postponed.

The postponement came after Damascus insisted that Israel commit itself to a full withdrawal from the entire strategic Golan Heights plateau occupied in the 1967 Middle East war as a precondition for resumption of negotiations.

"The USA informed us of the postponement following Syria’s wishes," a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak told AFP.

The bumpy negotiations, which broke off on January 10 with no tangible progress, had been due to resume tomorrow in the Washington area. Israeli and US officials said no date for the delayed resumption had been set.

A senior Clinton administration official acknowledged that the postponement was "certainly not a step forward" in the peace process.

He said a small number of experts from both countries, probably two, would be in Washington at the weekend or early next week to discuss the outstanding issues.

The White House has blamed procedural difficulties for the postponement of talks between Israel and Syria that were scheduled to resume this week but said both sides were still committed to peace agreement.

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said yesterday the "delay" was due to the fact that two sides had "different approaches to the next round."

Both sides were showing lack of procedural flexibility in insisting their own priorities be addressed first, a senior US official said.

US President Bill Clinton said despite postponement he was "convinced" Israel and Syria still wanted to move towards a peace agreement.

Mr Arafat is due to meet US President Bill Clinton in Washington on Thursday to chart his vision of a framework deal.

Mr Barak had initially been expected to be in the USA at the same time and to join in the talks, but the delay in the Syrian talks has put his departure on hold.

Mr Barak’s office yesterday said the next West Bank pullout would not include the Jerusalem-area village of Abu Dis, sought by Palestinians for its proximity to the holy city.

DAMASCUS: Syria announced today that the resumption of peace talks between Syria and Israel depended on Israel committing itself to a withdrawal from the Golan Heights.

The third round of peace talks, which had been scheduled to open in the USA tomorrow, have been postponed after Syrian dissatisfaction with progress at the first two rounds.

Al-Thawra, a government newspaper, said in a front-page editorial signed by Editor Amid Kholi that it was "logical and legitimate" for the Syrian position on the resumption of talks to depend on Israel’s readiness to withdraw to the borders which existed before the six-day war in 1967.

Al-Thawra added that Syria had the right to call a pause in the talks to assess the outcome of the two "arduous" rounds of talks so far which, it said, "have been killed by Israel’s manoeuvring, cheating and circumambulating".

Tishrin, another government newspaper, said "Israeli stubbornness" had halted any substantial progress.

JERUSALEM: Israel and the Palestinians denied today reports that their leaders had discussed putting back a mid-February target date for a framework deal on a permanent peace accord.

A late-night meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat yesterday came hard on the heels of the postponement of peace talks between Israel and Syria.

Meanwhile, hard on the heels of the postponement, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak met Palestinian President Yasser Arafat late last night in surprise talks over their troubled peace process, which Palestinians fear has been cast aside by the Syrian track, a Reuters report said from Jerusalem.

The two met in secret in central Israel to weight postponing by two months the February 13 deadline for a US brokered framework accord, the forerunner to a permanent peace deal to be concluded by September, Israeli political sources said.

BEIRUT: Damascus is hoping that the USA would use its influence to get the third round of talks between Syria and Israel on track again, it was confirmed today.

Lebanese Government sources said Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Al-Sharaa had told Lebanese Prime Minister Selim Hoss that this could be done if the USA could help have the issue of Israel’s withdrawal from the Golan Heights reinstated at the top of the talks agenda.

Mr Al-Sharaa had briefed Mr Hoss by telephone yesterday night about the reasons behind the postponement of the third round of negotiations which had been set for June 19.Top

 

Russians ‘reach’ centre of Grozny

MOSCOW, Jan 18 (AFP) — Russian soldiers said they had reached the center of the Chechen Capital Grozny today, ITAR-Tass reported.

The news agency cited one soldier as saying that the Russians were "gradually expanding their zone of control" in the city.

The report said two groups had reached the center at 6.30 a.m. (GMT). Two additional groups were also progressing towards the center.

Heavy artillery and air strikes continued over Grozny overnight.

ITAR-TASS cited soldiers as saying that all of Grozny would fall within three or four days.

Russia had carried out one of its heaviest bombardments of Grozny yesterday, with a roar of heavy artillery resounding in the eastern districts of the besieged Capital.

Military sources had told AFP then that Russian troops had managed to capture only a few houses, not an entire street let alone a neighborhood.

Russian forces also claimed to have seized the symbolically important village of Vedeno, the home base of feared Chechen field commander Shamil Basayev.

Reuters adds: Tass said Russian troops were gradually strengthening their grip on Grozny on the second day of fresh concerted attacks to flush Islamic rebels out of the city where up to 40,000 civilians remain trapped in cellars with little food or heat.

The news agency quoted officers in Russian military headquarters in the region as saying fierce fighting was raging elsewhere in Grozny after a night of heavy artillery and aerial bombardment.

An earlier drive to seize the city ran into trouble in the new year when troops encountered fierce resistance from rebels who had entrenched themselves in fortified positions while the army was advancing through the Chechen plains.

Meanwhile, Russia has blasted the Taliban regime in Afghanistan for recognising its breakaway republic of Chechnya as an independent state and called for greater UN sanctions against the militia for trying to establish an international terrorist network.

"Recognition of Chechnya’s independence by Taliban, who themselves have established their dominance in Afghanistan by using force against the ‘lawful and UN-recognised government of Burhanuddin Rabbani is of juridical insignificance’," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement yesterday.

"On the political plane, this announcement by a regime, unlawful and unrecognised by the international community, in relation to which UN sanctions are in force due to its support for international terrorism, once again serves as evidence of links between terrorists in Chechnya and forces of belligerent religious extremism," it said.Top

 

Iran may build N-weapons: CIA

WASHINGTON, Jan 18 (AFP) — The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has told the Clinton administration that Iran may be able to build nuclear weapons, the New York Times has reported, citing unnamed government officials.

The daily reported yesterday that the new assessment of Iran’s nuclear capabilities did not stem from a belief that the country had made a technological breakthrough.

Instead, the CIA reported that it was unable to monitor the country’s efforts to obtain nuclear technology from elsewhere.

In sharp contrast to earlier assessments that ruled out the possibility that Iran held nuclear weapons, the report indicated that the agency did not have a clear idea.

Because of the uncertainty, officials did not say the agency believed Iran to currently have the weapons, the paper reported.

The report also underlined the problems the CIA had tracking the sale and trafficking of nuclear technology and fissile material enriched uranium or plutonium from the stockpiles of the former Soviet Union.Top

 

Hijackers’ leader ‘wept’ thrice

DUBAI, Jan 18 (UNI) — The leader of the hijackers, who recently commandeered an Indian Airlines aircraft, cried at least on three occasions, frustrated over the way negotiations were going on regarding their demands, according to Capt Devi Sharan, the pilot of the plane.

"On at least three occasions, the hijackers’ leader broke down on my shoulder and wept, when he was frustrated with the way the negotiations were going on, or when he remembered something unhappy", Captain Sharan said in an interview to Khaleej Times.

Recounting the eight-day ordeal of the passengers on the aircraft which was hijacked on December 24 while flying from Kathmandu to Delhi, the pilot said the other four hijackers addressed their leader as ‘chief’ while the nicknames they had for one another were ‘bhola’, ‘shankar’, ‘doctor’ and ‘burger’. The hijackers were very good to women and treated them ‘like sisters’ and did not use foul language or abuse.

Captain Sharan said their emotional outburst would, however, last a very short time and soon they would revert to their ruthless militant ways to make sure the passengers and the crew knew they were in charge and meant business.

The Captain said that as the days passed by, his heart and emotions kept getting stronger and stronger to fight the situation. "If there had been the slightest mistake, say, if I had raised my voice, or my co-pilot or co-passengers raised theirs, the captors would have killed them or got into a fight and, may be, they would have detonated a grenade", he added.

He said the safety of the aircraft and passengers was uppermost in his mind. "I was worried about this part — that no passenger should say anything or upset them. I kept telling them all the time, we have to do as they say".

Captain Sharan recalled that when the talks were deadlocked on December 28, the hijackers told the Indian negotiators that they would hand over 15 hostages in exchange for Maulana Masood Azhar. "I told them that a doctor treats an accident victim completely and not just a leg or an arm at a time: therefore, they must not deal with the hijacking episode in instalments". According to the pilot, Rupin Katyal died because he was unlucky to have been picked up at random by the hijackers.

The pilot felt that if Lahore airport had allowed the plane to land, Katyal would have been saved because he died after bleeding for three hours.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Government allowed the hijacked Indian Airlines aircraft to land in Dubai last month purely on "humanitarian grounds" to provide it with fuel, food and medicine, according to Dr Faridoun Mohammed Naguib of Dubai Police Research and Studies Centre.Top

 

Twain, Brooks win music awards

LOS ANGELES, Jan 18 (Reuters) — Canadian country-pop singer Shania Twain and soul ingenue Lauryn Hill each won two prizes at the American Music Awards yesterday, but neither turned up to claim their hardware.

Country star Garth Brooks won two awards as well, plus an additional prize for artist of the decade, and he ran out of people to thank after his frequent trips to the podium.

Brooks said backstage he felt ambivalent about his awards and reiterated his plans to adopt a lower profile in the music world.

"I’m not sure that the people don’t need a breath from Garth," said the country megastar, who often refers to himself in the third-person.

Brooks won the favourite male artist and favourite album prizes, both in the country category. He said, "You feel good about the award but at the same time ... you accept it with a grain of salt."

Twain was named favourite female artist in both the pop/rock and country categories. She lost in a third category, favourite adult contemporary artist, to Phil Collins — another no-show.

Hill was cited in both the categories in which she was nominated — favourite female artist and favourite album, both in the soul/rhythm and blues categories.

Brooks won the favourite male artist and favourite album prizes, both in the country category. He dedicated his artist of the decade award to his father and late mother, and to his wife.

Along with Twain, teen singer Britney Spears and Whitney Houston also had three nominations. Spears won one prize, for favourite new pop/rock artist, while Whitney Houston, who did not attend, was left empty-handed.

Mariah Carey received a special award of achievement, acknowledging her career success.

Meanwhile, veteran rock guitarist Carlos Santana crowned his rock ‘n’ roll comeback with a hugely popular triumph for his best-selling new album.

The 52-year-old veteran, who made one of the biggest comebacks in rock history last year, saw his hit disc "Supernatural" named favourite pop/rock album.Top

 

Where cocaine is ‘currency’

PENAS COLORADAS (Colombia), Jan 18 (Reuters) — A soft drink costs just under a gram, a meal between three and five grams and a handful of fishhooks about two. The currency here is cocaine.

Times are tough in this riverside village nestled deep in the jungles of a forgotten corner of southern Colombia, far from the control of the central government and firmly in the grip of powerful marxist rebels.

Coca leaf, the raw material for cocaine, has long been the economic mainstay along the Caguan river in the Caqueta province, one of Colombia’s leading drug-producing areas. Local peasants harvest coca leaves on small plots hacked from the virgin rain forest and mix them with cement, gasoline and sulphuric acid to produce semi-processed cocaine calld cocaine base.

But for the past three months no drug traffickers have come down the caguan in search of the bitter-smelling white powder that locals call "merchandise," and the resulting cash shortage has fuelled a drug-based barter system.

"At the moment we’re receiving cocaine base in exchange for basic products at 2,000 peso ($1) per gram," Armando Lozano,who runs a pharmacy in the village of Penas Coloradas, said recently. On US streets a gram of refined cocaine changes hands for anywhere between $ 30 to 200.

"There’s no money in the village because the narcos have not come to buy the cocaine," added Lozano, a spokesman for store owners in this community of 500 inhabitants.

Nobody seems quite sure why drug dealers are staying away. Some blame a massive police operation in mid-October when 30 alleged drug traffickers were captured in Bogota and Medellin. But others believe the buyers were irked when Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels ordered them to pay higher prices to the peasants.

The price of one kg (2.2 pounds) of cocaine base has risen sharply to around $ 1,000. A kg of refined cocaine in the USA costs up to $ 36,000 wholesale or up to $ 200,000 on the street.

The Peasants grumble at the lack of cash but none are strangers to hardship. Most came in waves to the caguan region from other parts of the country over the past 20 years, fleeing the cross-fire of the long-running guerrilla war that has claimed some 35,000 lives just in the past 10 years.

The Caguan river is the only route in and out of the area and transport costs are high. Legal produce such as plantain and yucca costs more to ship to market than it is worth, driving peasants to plant coca leaf — until now the only viable cash crop — starting in the early 1980s.

"They told me coca was profitable. But in practice it’s not like that," said peasant farmer Nicolas Echavarria, 43, as he surveyed his 15-acre plot near the hamlet of Las Animas.

"It’s been precarious. There’s no solid economy. We have no market apart from coca," he remarked complaining of a total lack of schools and healthcare.

The US drug enforcement administration says Colombia supplies 80 per cent of the world’s cocaine. Despite an intense US-backed drug crop eradication programme, cocaine output has doubled over the past four years to about 165 tons annually.Top

 

Insat-3B launch in March

PARIS, Jan 18 (PTI) — India’s Insat-3B communication satellite will be launched from Kourou space station in French Guyana in March and once operational, the satellite will augment India’s satellite-based mobile communication system, officials said here today.

The 2,070-kg Insat-3B, the first of the Insat-3 satellite series, will be put in the geo-stationary orbit by a Ariane-5 rocket in mid-March, Arianespace officials said.

This will be the second commercial launch of Ariane-5 and Insat-3B will have Asia star satellite owned by World Space as its co-passenger, unlike the Insat 2-E which had a dedicated launch last year by an Ariane-4 rocket, officials said.

Insat-3B, designed to have a mission life of 12 years, will carry 12 extended C band transponders, three KU band transponders and one MSS transponder — exclusively for satellite broadcast and telecommunication in India.Top

 

‘Aide of Arkan’s killer wounded’

BELGRADE, Jan 18 (AFP) — An accomplice of the killer of Serbian warlord Arkan was wounded in the shooting and was lying unconscious in a hospital, Serbia’s Politika newspaper reported.

"An accomplice, badly wounded in the shooting, has been operated on. The killer is at large," the newspaper said in its today’s edition, quoting "reliable sources."

The suspect was unable to make any declaration to the police because he was still unconscious, Politika affirmed.Top

 
WORLD BRIEFS

Police crackdown on Rio beach
RIO DE JANEIRO: The police in Rio De Janeiro has cracked down at a famous beach on what they regard as an unacceptable crime — topless sunbathing. Rio’s five beach police officers in their T-shirts and shorts struck on Sunday, enforcing the city’s public decency code by asking dozens of women on trendy Reserva Da Barra beach, west of the more famous Copacabana and Ipanema, to cover their breasts. — Reuters

Brief freedom for pythons at zoo
KUALA LUMPUR:
More than 30 pythons broke through an iron cage and escaped by slithering down a drain over the weekend at a small zoo in Malaysia’s Sibu town on Borneo Island, the zoo’s owner said on Monday. However, freedom was brief for most of the reptiles which were soon caught after their escape was detected on Sunday morning by snake breeder Lim Tien Soon, better known as Sibu’s "snake king", the Bernama national news agency reported. — DPA

Billionaire American smuggler in NZ
AUCKLAND:
An application to publicly identify an American billionaire who admitted importing drugs will be heard in a New Zealand court on Thursday, the newspaper campaigning for the man to be unmasked reported on Tuesday. The businessman, who travelled to Auckland to watch the American Cup yachting regatta, was discharged without conviction earlier this month after he admitted three charges of importing just over 100 gm of cannabis resin and leaf. — Reuters

UK to return bust of Egyptian queen
CAIRO:
Part of statue of an ancient Egyptian queen will return home this week, 10 years after it was smuggled to Britain, an antiquities official said. "One and half months ago, the British Government withdrew from the court case we filed against them after we insisted on bringing back the Head of Queen Meret," Mr Gaballah Ali Gaballah, Chairman of Egypt’s Supreme Antiquities Council, said on Monday. — Reuters

Woman locked in pub, wins $ 5, 135 in damages
DUBLIN:
An Irish woman locked overnight in a pub won 4,000 ($ 5,135) in damages from the bar’s owners, Irish media reported. Ms Marian Gahan fell asleep on the toilet in Searsons Pub in central Dublin, and did not wake until 2 a.m. local time, by which time the pub was closed, media said on Monday. Ms Gahan sued the pub’s owners, Guinness Ireland Group Ltd, for failing to check the toilets before locking up. — Reuters

HIV-positive man kills fiancee’s father, self
PHNOM PENH:
An HIV-positive soldier shot his girlfriend’s father dead and then killed himself after the father forbid the couple to marry, a report said. Thay Saket shot his 18-year-old sweetheart’s father, Pheng Un, then blew himself up with a grenade in the southern province of Kampot, a Cambodian daily newspaper reported on Monday. Cambodia has the highest per capita HIV infection rates in Asia, with 4 per cent of the adult population infected with the virus that causes AIDS. — DPA

Mysterious blocks of ice fall from sky
MADRID:
Mysterious blocks of ice which have fallen from the sky in Spain could originate from a comet, scientists said in Madrid. Nine blocks, weighting from a half to around 4 kg fell over the past week, landing in various places mostly in southern Spain on Monday. A 10th block the size of a basketball crashed in front of a moving car on a country road near the eastern city of Valencia. Scientists dismissed theories that the blocks could have resulted from humidity in airplanes. — DPA

Quintuplets born in Italy
ROME:
A 22-year-old woman gave birth to three girls and two boys in the southern Italian city of Avellino, hospital officials said. The births, assited by 22 doctors and nurses, came only two days after a 28-year-old Italian woman gave birth to four boys and two girls in the central city of Perugia. — AFP
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