|Friday, January 21, 2000,
Inderfurth in Pak for talks
Russians kill 300 Chechen rebels
Man faces charge of smuggling
Indian women for sex
Girl held captive for 17
Kin files suit to keep Elian in
Hillary to declare candidacy on
Sharifs RAW links being
New Russian heads first
visit will be to India
Inderfurth in Pak for talks
ISLAMABAD, Jan 20 (Reuters) Assistant US Secretary of State Karl Inderfurth arrived in Islamabad today for the first top-level talks between Washington and Pakistans 100-day-old military government.
Mr Inderfurth was expected to hold talks on prospects for a return to democratic rule and nuclear and regional issues with Gen Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a bloodless coup on October 12, Pakistani officials said.
He was also scheduled to hold discussions with Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar and Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz, who were named by General Musharraf to the civilian cabinet which reports to his National Security Council.
The USA had expressed disappointment at General Musharrafs failure to say when democratic rule would be restored but had not called for the return of deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had been charged with attempted murder and hijacking.
The charges arise from an alleged attempt by his government to prevent an aircraft carrying General Musharraf home from an official visit to Sri Lanka to land in Karachi. The army overthrew Mr Sharif that night and suspended Parliament.
The US wants Pakistan and India, to sign the CTBT and take steps to wind down tension in the region, a potential nuclear flashpoint.
The visit by Mr Inderfurth, who is responsible for South Asia, coincides with an agreement between India and the USA to set up a counter-terrorism body to hunt down the hijackers New Delhi says are in Pakistan.
The Islamabad government says it does not know where they are and will arrest them if they are caught. They disappeared after 155 hostages were freed in a swap for three Kashmiri militants jailed in India. Two of the militants have appeared in Pakistan.
Mr Inderfurth was accompanied by Mr Donald Camp, a senior official in Washingtons National Security Council, and Mr Michael Sheehan, an anti-terrorism expert at the State Department.
The talks are also
expected to include Washingtons demand that
Afghanistans Taliban movement hand over Osama bin
Laden, who is in hiding in Afghanistan and is accused of
masterminding in August 1998 bombing attacks on US
embassies in Africa.
Russians kill 300 Chechen rebels
MOSCOW, Jan 20 (UNI) Advancing Russian forces have killed more than 300 Chechen militants, trying to escape the intense federal troop assault, during the past 48 hours.
A defence spokesman said here that the separatists in Chechen Capital Grozny were losing about 150 men in each days fighting.
The Kremlin troops have taken control over a key gorge in the Argun area, which connects Chechnya with Gerogia and the outside world. It was through this channel that the rebels received weapons and other supplies, Voice of Russia reported.
Gen Vladimir Shamanov, Russian commanding officer of the Chechen operations, said yesterday that the fight would be carried to its logical end, a total victory.
Man faces charge of
smuggling Indian women
OAKLAND (California), Jan 20 (AFP) A landlord suspected of smuggling in girls from India and using them for sex is to appear in a federal court here on Friday.
Lakireddy Bali Reddy faces charges of "importing aliens for the purpose of prostitution and for other immoral purposes," and of inducing immigrants to illegally enter and live in the USA, according to an arrest warrant filed in the Oakland federal court on Tuesday.
The charges resulted from evidence gathered after two girls suffered carbon dioxide poisoning in an apartment owned by Reddy in Berkeley.
The two teenaged sisters were found unconscious in their apartment on November 24.
One of them was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. Her sister recovered and was released the next day.
Investigators suspect a faulty heater and, possibly, a blocked roof vent caused a toxic level of carbon dioxide.
Reddy owns more than 1,000 apartment units, most in Berkeley across the bay from San Francisco.
Girl held captive for 17 days
SINGAPORE, Jan 20 (DPA) Five Singapore teenagers have been accused of pouring hot water on a 14-year-old girl, bashing her teeth with a stool and sexually assaulting their victim over 17 days of captivity, it was reported yesterday.
The attacks and abuse have left the victim in Singapore General Hospital since January 4, confined to the burns unit as a result of multiple scald wounds on her body and bruises on her face, the Straits Times said.
The five, dubbed "torture teens by the local media, included Neo Soo Kai, Melvin Yeo Yew Beng, both 16, Yeo Kim Han, 17, Ong Lay Hua, 18, and Ong Lay Hiong, 16. They face between three and seven charges each in connection with the ordeal from December 15 to January 2 in a flat.
The sixth accused a girl cannot be identified as she is 14.
The prosecution told the court yesterday that the gang poured hot water on the girls body, hands and legs, prevented her from going home, punched her face, used a stick and iron rod to strike her, bashed her mouth with a stool to break her teeth, molested her and forced her to perform oral sex on a dog.
Window on Pakistan
THE Indian ban on the import of raw cotton from Pakistan has unnerved those associated with the production and processing of this major agricultural export. Despite the brave face being put up by the Karachi Cotton Association (KCA) and the All-Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA), India's decision is going to cause a substantial loss of export revenue to Pakistan.
According the KCA chief, Mr Maqbool Sadiq, "... had Indian importers not cancelled our orders we would have earned about Rs 250 million in foreign exchange". Obviously, the KCA members would be unable to earn as much as they had expected. India has imported 40,000 bales out of the 2,50,000 bales contracted.
If Mr Sadiq explains that "you cannot exactly call it a loss", as reported in The News of Karachi, this is only to keep the morale of the Pakistani exporters high. There is considerable uneasiness in the cotton circles in Karachi, Lahore and elsewhere. A report in Business Recorder of January 20 quoted cotton traders as saying that "even if there was any viral, fungal or bacterial problem with the Pakistani cotton, they would be adequately removed through fumigation at the time of shipment and also at the destination. The Indian step has not only dislocated several of the shippers here but also put them in a predicament due to the problems they could face with their banks, increasing storage costs and also the high cost of reselling this cotton".
Exporter-members of the KCA are upset more than anybody else as they will be major losers. They feel that "a serious situation has been created whereby international contracts have been frustrated, a move which is against the interest of free trade and also the sanctity of international contracts". However, there is the realisation that approaching the World Trade Organisation "may not yield the desired results..." Yet the complaint is likely to be filed not only with the WTO but also the Liverpool Cotton Exchange, UK.
The KCA chief has expressed the view that "going to the World Trade Organisation is a lengthy process, and by the time a verdict may come, a fresh harvest will be ready". Interestingly, no one challenges Indias right to invoke the phytosanitary clauses of the WTO to ban the cotton import from Pakistan. The Indian viewpoint is that "cotton seeds of exotic origin, dried leaves and stalks in imported consignments carry strains of destructive bacteria, and viral and fungal diseases...."
As the average price of cotton in Pakistan is lower than that in India, the growers on this side of the border are bound to be the gainers. In India's Punjab region, cotton prices ranged between Rs 1800 and Rs 2100 per quintal last year. But since the middle of November, 1999, there has been a downward trend mainly because of the millers' preference for Pakistani cotton, available at a lower rate owing to a bumper crop and other factors.
In other cotton producing countries too the crop is reported to be good, but there has been a depressing demand mainly from the East Asian countries, still reeling under the financial crisis that began in 1997. This is not enough. Against the world consumption level of 19 million tonnes, the carryover stock of the crop is expected to go up by 10 million tonnes.
According to one estimate, this season's cotton yield in Pakistan should not be less than 11 million bales, much higher than the previous season's figure of 8.5 million bales. The Trading Corporation of Pakistan has decided to procure at least 1.1 million bales to help stabilise the market. Business Recorder points out in an editorial (January 19) that in view of "the paucity of funds with the government" Commerce Minister Abdur Razzak Dawood thinks of "a collective effort with the likely involvement of the spinners, ginners and exporters in the challenging task". This "collective effort" is originally the idea of the paper, as it claims.
The Trading Corporation, however, has an obsession of buying mainly the superior variety of cotton, known as Afzal type in trade circles. This has been disastrous for those growing inferior varieties in parts of Sindh and Punjab. In the past this led to the "suspension of business" by ginners. Newspaper reports have it that harassed growers at many places burnt their crop in protest against the corporation's unhealthy approach.
The growers and ginners have complained of unusual delays in the payment of their dues by the corporation and other buyers. Reports have also been received of malpractices at various other stages in cotton trade. The growers may not suffer as much by India's ban as they will because of these unhealthy practices.
Kin files suit to keep Elian in USA
MIAMI, Jan 20 (AP) Elian Gonzalezs relatives in Miami went to federal court to challenge the US Immigration and Naturalisation Services ruling that the six-year-old boy must be returned to his father in Cuba.
Lazaro Gonzalez, Elians great-uncle, filed the federal lawsuit yesterday after US Attorney General Janet Reno declared last week that the boys status was an immigration matter solely in the jurisdiction of federal law.
"It is about protecting Elians civil and constitutional rights, the same as if he was any other child," said Spencer Eig, a lawyer for the great-uncle. Elian has been living with his Miami relatives since he was found floating on an inner tube off the Florida coast on November 25.
The lawsuit names as defendants Reno, INS Commissioner Doris Meissner, INS District Director Robert Wallis, the US Department of Justice and the INS.
It accuses the government of violating Elians rights to due process of law and asks the judge to prevent the INS from returning the boy to Cuba before the agency gives him an asylum hearing.
No hearing date was immediately set. The Justice Department and the INS said in a statement they were prepared to respond quickly and would ask the court "to expeditiously address this matter.
"It is important for the well-being of Elian Gonzalez that the status of this six-year-old boy be resolved as quickly as possible," the statement said.
In Havana, a top Cuban legislator criticised attempts by the Miami relatives of Elian Gonzalez to keep the boy in the USA and cast doubt on the idea that the boys grandmothers would go to pick him up.
Ricardo Alarcon, President of the National Assembly, was interviewed on government television after the boys US family members announced they would sue in a federal court to keep the boy permanently in the USA, but before the action was filed.
Alarcon described yesterday Elians Miami relatives as "a bunch of kidnappers" and said their attempts to keep the boy in the USA "ignores the American government, showing disrespect for its institutions."
There was no other immediate reaction to the Miami familys lawsuit against the US Immigration and Naturalisation Services determination that Elian be reunited with his father in Cuba.
Both US Attorney General Janet Reno and President Bill Clinton have backed the INS decision.
With the presence of President Fidel Castro, hundreds of Cuban jurists, attorneys and judges gathered in Havana yesterday afternoon for the latest in a series of government rallies pressing for Elians return.
Hillary to declare candidacy on Feb 6
NEW YORK, Jan 20 (AFP) US First Lady Hillary Clinton has confirmed that she will on February 6 formally declare her candidacy for a Senate seat representing New York state.
Speaking in an interview with Buffalo television station WKBW yesterday while on a visit to the town, Clinton said she would make the announcement from her new home in Chappaqua, New York state, and would begin a statewide tour shortly after.
A week ago, she had said she would announce her candidacy in early February, but had not specified the date.
During her day in Buffalo, which lies on the western edge of New York state on the shores of Lake Erie, Clinton paid a visit to a home for senior citizens.
In an interview with WGR-FM local radio station, Clinton was asked whether she had ever been unfaithful to her husband, and whether she had ever used drugs.
Sharifs RAW links being probed
KARACHI, Jan 20 (UNI) Deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, already faced with charges of high treason and hijacking, is now being investigated for links with the Indian intelligence agency the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
The investigation was launched following allegations that RAW enjoyed the patronage of Mr Sharif and had gained unhindered access to top offices in the government, Jang reported quoting official sources.
The reports said Mr Sharif held unscheduled and unannounced meetings, on all overseas tours, with top ranking Indian officials including RAW agents.
Mr Sharifs son Hussain, close associate Saifur Rehman, a former head of the Accountability Bureau, and several former federal ministers are also accused of direct involvement in the networking with the intelligence agency, the report said.
The report claimed a top ranking RAW official, J.D. Khanna, had a long meeting with Mr Sharif on October 11, a day before the army took over following the sacking of its chief Gen Pervez Musharraf. The RAW official reportedly stayed in Pakistan for a week and returned to India by road on the day of the military coup, it said.
The paper also claimed
that the business interests of Mr Sharif in India were
safeguarded by the RAW and other Indian government
agencies. Mr Sharif is believed to have supplied sugar
worth millions of dollars to India last year from mills
owned by his Ittefaq group of Industries.
New Russian heads first visit will be to India
MOSCOW, Jan 20 (UNI) Russian Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Kristenko has said the first international visit of the new head of state, to be elected on March 26, will be to India.
This is a pointer to how much priority Moscow accords to India, he said.
Mr Kristenko said the forthcoming Delhi summit between Russian and Indian leaders some defence agreements of vital importance to both countries would be signed.
Spokesman for the presidential administration Sergei Prikhodko meanwhile, said the new head would also tour China, another country high in Kremlins priority list.
and Camilla visit theatre
Bid to snap up
security at NZ airport
Eclipse to paint
the moon red
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