|Tuesday, February 8, 2000,
Wahid ready to pardon
Hillary to run for Senate
Kuwait should allow
Iraq access to Gulf
Pak diplomat caught with hooker
Burundi fighting claims 100
Musharraf blamed for killings
Wahid ready to pardon Wiranto
LISBON, Feb 7 (Reuters, AP) Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid was quoted today as saying that he would pardon Cabinet Minister and former armed forces chief, General Wiranto, if he was found guilty of rights abuses in East Timor.
But he said in an interview with Portugals Diario de Noticias, there would be no such amnesty for other military chiefs, soldiers and militiamen involved in the killings and destruction that followed last Augusts vote for independence in the former Portuguese colony.
"The armed forces chief, even if he is guilty he is, however, wrong he has been, was the Supreme Commander and we will respect him, Mr Wahid said.
"He will be given an amnesty, pardoned, after being judged guilty, he told the newspaper during a recent visit to Rome.
Mr Wahid is locked in a battle of wills with the former military chief who has ignored a presidential order to resign as Coordinating Minister for Politics and Security while an Indonesian inquiry into the East Timor violence continues.
The inquiry has concluded General Wiranto and five top generals should face further investigation into their alleged role in the mayhem and destruction that followed East Timors decision to break away after 23 years of often-brutal Jakarta rule.
Gen Wirantos refusal to stand down has prompted fears in Jakarta of a possible military coup against Wahid who is currently on a foreign tour. The President is due to return to Indonesia on February 13.
Meanwhile, nine people were killed in separatist and communal violence in Indonesia during the weekend, officials said today.
The deaths came despite repeated assurances from the government that it will soon secure peace.
One police officer and five civilians were shot dead in the north-western Aceh province and three people were killed in fighting among Muslims and Christians in eastern Indonesia.
Lt Col Priyatna, chief of East Aceh military, said the officer was shot dead in gunfight with separatist guerrillas on Saturday. Five civilians were killed in three other incidents, the police said.
President Wahid, said last week that the rebels had agreed to a cease-fire with Indonesian forces. However, this was later denied by separatist leaders. The President has also tried to foster reconciliation between Christians and Muslims in the Maluku island in the country east.
However, three people
were killed yesterday when fighting flared on Halmahera
Island, said a local physician, Wahyu.
Hillary to run for Senate
NEW YORK, Feb 7 (PTI) US First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton has formally announced her candidacy for the Senate seat from New York and promised to work for issues like education and health at home and peace among nations, including between India and Pakistan, internationally, kicking off what promises to be a hard-fought battle with likely rival New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
Hillary, a 52-year-old Democrat, will be seeking the seat to be left vacant by Liberal Democratic icon Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who is retiring.
She is the first presidential spouse ever to run for political office during her husbands presidential term.
Hillary made the long-awaited announcement amid considerable fanfare yesterday in Purchase, 60 km North of New York City and not far from the residential suburb of Chappaqua, where the Clintons recently bought a house.
"I am honoured today to announce my candidacy for the US Senate from New York," Hillary told the crowd gathered here, which burst into applause and chanted her name.
Hundreds of Democrats and friends gathered at a college gymnasium for the announcement, which she made before a forest of cameras and with her husband Bill and daughter Chelsea nearby on the stage.
Hillary addressed the crowd as her "fellow New Yorker", and tried to deflect criticism levelled by those who say she is unqualified for the post because until this year, she had never lived in New York.
"I may be new to here, but Im not new to your concerns," she said.
A short biographical film about her and an eight-page leaflet called "Hillary: The Real Story", of which 400,000 copies have been printed, were presented before her announcement.
Starting today, Hillary will be a part-time First Lady as she begins a long tour of the state and exhaustive campaign leading up to the November 7 vote.
During a long "listening tour" that took her across New York state in late 1999, she announced the central themes of her campaign as medical insurance and support for the states struggling public school system.
"The issues that I think are the most important for the future of New York and America happen to be concerns of mine that go back more than 30 years", she said in an interview to the New York Times. "And I find that those concerns are the concerns of New Yorkers."
She promised to work for education, health, employment and increasing federal minimum wage in the state and for peace in India and Pakistan, Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Kosovo, and in the Middle East to guarantee Israels security.
President Clinton did not speak at the function. However, in a new biographical video by a Holldywood producer, he said, "She unleashed peoples energy ... In Senate, you need to be able to bring people together and lift them up and shes very, very good at that."
Hillary and her likely rival Giuliani are in a statistical dead heat in their race for the Senate seat, a new poll showed yesterday.
Meanwhile, few hours before US First Lady Hillary Clinton was to announce her candidacy for the US Senate from New York state, her presumptive Republican rival accused her of using taxpayer money to cover campaign expenses. New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani made this accusation on the Fox Television channel yesterday.
"The reality is I took 14 trips over the last six months. I paid $ 153,000 for those," argued Giuliani.
"Mrs Clinton took
something like 50 or 60 trips. She paid only 34,000
dollars for it," he continued. According to
Giuliani, it cost Vice-President Al Gore, who is seeking
the Democratic presidential nomination, about $ 330,000
to make the same number of trips during his campaign as
the First Lady did.
Kuwait should allow Iraq access to Gulf
KUWAIT, Feb 7 (Reuters) Kuwait should allow its former occupier Iraq access to the gulf waterway to achieve regional stability after two major wars, the United Arab Emirates has suggested.
"We need a strategy to follow," said UAE Defence Minister Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum in remarks published today. "If the issue is that Iraq needs an outlet to the waterway what is the problem if Kuwait offers that, if it is a guarantee for stability?"
Several UAE leaders have met in recent days with visiting Kuwaiti journalists. Mr Sheikh Mohammad, who is also the Dubai crown prince, was quoted by Kuwaits Al-Watan newspaper.
"This is how I think...and I do not think there is an objection if one of your brothers has different views as long as the aim we are all aspiring to is the same," he said.
The UAE was among regional allies which joined the USA-led gulf war that ended Iraqs seven-month occupation of Kuwait nine years ago this month. Kuwait, like most Arab states, stood firmly by Iraq in its 1980-88 war against non-Arab Iran.
Analysts say that Iraqs aims from the two wars included gaining direct and full access to the strategic gulf waterway whose only entrance in the south is controlled by Iran and Oman.
"What is needed is a guarantee for continued stability," added Mr Sheikh Mohammad whose suggestion is expected to fall on deaf ears in Kuwait.
Kuwait refuses any
direct dealings with Iraq and repeatedly warns that
President Saddam Hussein continues to pose a threat to
Pak diplomat caught with hooker
LONDON, Feb 7 (PTI) A Pakistani military attache here was caught having sex with a hooker in his car but was let off after he claimed diplomatic immunity, a tabloid reported today.
Cops had to let attache Mohammed Hamid go last night when he showed them his identity card, the tabloid "Sun" said.
A police official told the tabloid, "The diplomat got the shock of his life. But bobbies at the scene were furious. Anybody else would have been carted off down to the nick before you could say Hugh Grant."
He said Hamid demanded immunity from prosecution and the officers were forced to let him go.
Scotland Yard confirmed the news. "A man and woman were spoken to. The man was found to have diplomatic immunity," the foreign office said. "We are aware of the incident."
Twentyone diplomats have
claimed immunity from criminal prosecution in just 12
months, the report said. Offences include indecent
assault, fraud, assaults, driving under the influence of
liquor and shoplifting.
Sanctions violate EU rules: Haider
VIENNA, Feb 7 (Reuters) Austrias new government starts work today faced with the uphill battle of persuading the world that it is trustworthy despite half its members belonging to Joerg Haiders far-right Freedom Party.
Mr Haider himself said yesterday he might ask for a parliamentary investigation into foreign media reports that President Thomas Klestil and former social democrat Chancellor Viktor Klima had orchestrated the hostile reaction from the 14 EU partners to the government.
Klestil and Klima, although highly critical of the Freedom Party chief, have vehemently denied the reports, but Mr Haider said an investigation might clarify matters.
Mr Haider appealed on ORF Television yesterday to the EU partners to show restraint and back away from confrontation with the alpine Republic, saying last weeks proclamation of political sanctions by the Portuguese EU presidency violated EU rules.
"A deep injustice has taken place here," Mr Haider said, "The EU has not really imposed any sanctions against Russia over the brutal doings in Chechnya... but tiny Austria, where nothing happened except we had an election, is suddenly the object of sanction discussions".
Mr Haider also visited Berlin yesterday and faced 500 demonstrators shouting "Nazis out" when he arrived at a hotel in the city centre to record a commercial television chat show.
Asked by N-TV show host Erich Boehme whether he saw himself as a neo-fascist, a nationalist, a populist or "nice little Joerg", Mr Haider replied" its quite simple Im just a normal liberal reform politician."
In Vienna, several thousand people gathered again yesterday evening to demonstrate peacefully against Mr Haider, who is not in the government but remains Governor of Carinthia province.
The centre-right coalition Conservative Peoples Party leader Wolfgang Schuessel has a heavy workload.
Isolated abroad and embarrassed by street protests at home, Wolfgang Schuessel faces the daunting task of normalising relations with Austrias EU partners and pleading with Israel and the USA to return their ambassadors to Vienna.
Mr Schuessel said at the weekend he understood concern abroad, but added: "I must defend myself against unacceptable comparisons. There is no Hitler on the rise".
He noted that Mr Haider
had apologised for remarks playing down the atrocities of
the Nazis and praising the labour policies of
Hitlers Third Reich.
Bomb jolts Irish peace hopes
IRVINESTOWN (N. Ireland), Feb 7 (Reuters) Northern Irelands bitterly divided parties united today in condemning a bomb attack that rattled the British provinces already fragile peace process.
The attack last evening came as the region sank into a deepening crisis over the refusal of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to hand in the weapons it used to wage 30 years of guerrilla war against the British rule.
No one was injured in the blast at a hotel in the rural community of Irvinestown in County Fermanagh, but the bombing was seen as a violent attempt by renegade Republican guerrillas to derail a 22-month-old peace accord.
"I want to reiterate that I unequivocally condemn this attack", Gerry Adams, Leader of the IRAs political ally Sinn Fein, told reporters in Belfast late yesterday.
"The people involved are not acting in the interests of Irish republicanism. They are not representative of any real section of the Irish people and they should disband."
The police said a number of warning calls were received from a person purporting to be from the Continuity IRA, a Republican splinter group. The bomb exploded at about 7.20 p.m. (local time) after the police had evacuated about 80 persons from the hotel.
"Had the evacuation not been so prompt I fear that there would have been fatalities," Police Superintendent Jonathan McIvor told reporters.
Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern condemned the attack and Britains Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson said it was "not just wrong it is against the democratically expressed wishes of the people".
Yesterday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair appealed to both sides to do their utmost for the people of Northern Ireland.
"If we let this
chance for peace go...then we will have failed the people
that we serve," he said. "That would be the
biggest betrayal of all."
Palestinians break contacts with Israel
GAZA City, Feb 7 (AFP) A senior Palestinian official said today that all contacts with Israel aimed at drawing up a peace accord had been frozen, complaining that Israel had not respected its commitments under signed agreements.
"Our position now is no meetings, no communication or any bilateral actions," said Palestinian Cabinet Secretary-General Ahmad Abdel Rahman.
"The Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are frozen now because of Israels lack of respect on all their obligations and dates," he told AFP.
A meeting between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators due yesterday to push forward peace efforts to finalise a draft peace accord by a mid-February deadline was called off following a failed summit between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on Thursday.
declared a crisis after the summit broke down, saying Mr
Arafat was furious that they were not consulted about
maps outlining a delayed troop withdrawal from 6.1 per
cent of the West Bank, approved by Israeli Cabinet last
Halonen is Finlands first woman President
HELSINKI, Feb 7 (AFP, AP) Foreign Minister Tarja Halonen, a single mother and one-time social activist, has been elected President of Finland after narrowly defeating a conservative male rival in a closely-fought contest.
"The election for the first time of a woman to the presidency is encouraging", Ms Halonen told reporters after her victory was announced and her opponent, Esko Aho, conceded defeat yesterday.
"Although there is still much work to be done on the road to equality, we are heading in the right direction", 56-year-old Ms Halonen said.
Final voting results
published by the Justice Ministry gave Ms Halonen, 51.6
per cent support among Finlands 4.1 million
Burundi fighting claims 100
BUJUMBURA, Feb 7 (AFP) Around 100 persons were killed during weekend fighting between rebels and army forces north-east of the capital, government radio, Radio Burundi, said today.
Burundi is in the throes of a civil war pitching the army which is dominated by the minority Tutsis against an array of Hutu rebel groups.
Ten rebels surrendered to government troops, the same source added.
Meanwhile a Burundian
military spokesman here today denied reports that
government troops had been involved in the fighting.
Musharraf blamed for killings
WASHINGTON, Feb 7 (PTI) The Indo-American Kashmir Forum (IAKF) has held Pakistans military ruler Gen Parvez Musharraf and his "henchmen" responsible for the killing of three Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday night.
In a statement here the IAKF charged General Musharraf with "encouraging Islamic terrorists to continue their jehad (holy war) in Jammu and Kashmir" when he visited Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) last Saturday to mark the "Kashmir solidarity day".
dastardly act by Islamic terrorists (in Telwani village
in Anantnag district) will not deter Kashmiri Pandits in
their determination to return to their ancestral lands in
Kashmir", the statement said and urged the Clinton
administration to look into the "latest consequences
of Pakistani involvement in Kashmir".
paid to give up trade
US protest over
worried over sons company
Quakes jolt N.
leaves crew high and dry
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