|Saturday, February 19, 2000,
No pre-conditions for Pak visit:
Reformists tipped to do well in
Lanka gives a year for peace talks
War crimes tribunal for
E. Timor unlikely
Hooch kills 43 in Feni
24 die in clashes
Hitler had plans to invade India
No pre-conditions for Pak visit: USA
WASHINGTON, Feb 18 (PTI) President Bill Clinton would not attach any pre-conditions if he decides to visit Pakistan as part of his South Asia tour next month where he is going to "deepen" US relationship with "a really diverse and important country" India.
Although Clinton has not yet made a decision about going to Islamabad, he has not "set any guidelines or laid any pre-conditions for his visit," National Security Council spokesman David Leavy told reporters yesterday.
"There are some areas of concern that we have been talking to the Pakistanis for some time terrorism, non-proliferation and restoration of democracy...," Leavy said when asked what were the main issues in US-Pak relations.
Asked if any decision had been taken about Clinton going to Islamabad, he said: "We havent made a decision on any other stops (other than India and Bangladesh) for the trip."
He reiterated US stand on Kashmir saying while Washington is willing to mediate on Kashmir if both India and Pakistan make a request, the Americans view the issue as a bilateral matter between New Delhi and Islamabad. "What the USA wants is a peaceful resolution."
Some observers here interpreted the new decision not to set any conditions for a trip to Pakistan to mean that the USA has now given up hopes of persuading Gen Pervez Musharraf to set a firm date for restoring democracy or to crack down firmly on terrorist organisations nurtured by the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and other government agencies.
However, US concerns on Islamabads support to terrorists would apparently not affect Clintons decision whether to undertake the detour to Pakistan, they said.
AP adds: Meanwhile six House members have advised President Clinton to visit Pakistan in the interest of world peace.
Reformists tipped to do well in Iran poll
TEHRAN, Feb 18 (AP, DPA, UNI) For the first time in two decades, Iranian voters are expected today to give reformists a majority in the powerful Parliament Majlis that has traditionally been a bastion of conservatism.
Irans 38.7 million voters headed for polling stations set up at mosques and schools to choose between liberals, promising social and political reforms, and conservatives, backed by hard-liners in the ruling clergy.
But turnout was very thin in many polling stations in Tehran in the first 30 minutes after voting began at 9 a.m. (5.30 a.m. GMT). The authorities appealed to Iranians in radio broadcasts not to delay voting.
"Supreme leader" Ali Khameini, the ultimate power in Islamic Iran and the hard-liners main backer, voted in a mosque near his office in central Tehran, and he, too, appealed to fellow countrymen not to leave voting to the last minute.
"This is a significant election and I want you to be careful. Elect those who will be helpful to you and to Islam," he told Tehran Radio after he voted.
The hard-liners want Iran to stick to the ideals of the 1979 Islamic Revolution led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that ousted the pro-U.S. Shah and brought the Shia clergy to power.
Liberals have promised to work toward greater press freedom, and respect the rule of law. Some have suggested that Iranians should decide in a national referendum whether or not to establish ties with the USA, a move conservatives strongly oppose.
The hard-liners stand puzzles many who were born after 1979, when relations between the two nations were severed after radical students took over the U.S. Embassy and held 52 Americans hostage for more than a year.
"The conservatives would like to stop all kinds of contact with the outside world. They know that the more we know, the more we will dislike them," said Mehdi, a chemical engineering student, standing outside the Tehran University Hostel.
Though there are no opinion polls, reformists are expected to do well because of mounting frustration with the restrictions of clerical rule.
Young people complain that 21 years of Islamic rule by Khomeinis followers and successors failed to bear the promised fruit jobs and prosperity. Instead, youth were barred from mixing freely with the opposite sex, listening to Western and pop music or watching foreign television programmes. Women were told to cover themselves from head to toe and the clergy, in its role as the interpreter of Gods will, was deemed above criticism.
About 5,800 candidates including 424 women are contesting the election both record numbers. More than 36,000 polling stations have been set up for the polls.
President Mohammad Khatami was to vote at the house of the late Ayatollah Khomeini in the northern part of the city.
Competing for the parliamentary seats were the Islamic Iran Participation Party (IIPP), the traditional Leftist faction of the MRM, the moderate Servants of Construction, widely known as g6, and the conservative faction of the JRM.
Foreign reporters, numbering more than 350 from 28 countries, were in Tehran to cover the elections. They joined more than 50 foreign reporters who living in capital.
Voting is to continue till 7 p.m. (local time) but could be extended for an additional two hours, after that there would be no additional extensions, the Interior Ministry said.
A total of 1,20,000 police and more than 45,000 government officials were assigned to ensure security.
A plan for computerised counting was abandoned and the votes were to be counted by hand. It could take at least a week for the final results to be released, but a clear trend was expected within 24 hours.
Candidates need one-fourth of the total votes to get directly into the Majlis for a four-year term. Those not reaching the 25-per-cent level go for a run off, probably in April, in which a simple majority would be needed to be elected.
Meanwhile, Mr Mohammed
Reze Khatami, the Presidents brother, who heads the
pro-reform Islamic Iran Participation Front, said
candidates affiliated to the front were poised for
victory. "At least 60 per cent of the seats in
Parliament will be for reformers", he said.
Lanka gives a year for peace talks
COLOMBO, Feb 18 (PTI) The Sri Lankan Government has accepted a Norwegian proposal for a one-year time frame to hold peace talks with the LTTE, a newspaper reported here today.
"The government has agreed with the visiting Norwegian Foreign Minister, Mr Knut Volleback, to work out a one year time frame for any talks with the LTTE," the Daily Mirror said.
Mr Volleback arrived here last Wednesday to discuss the modalities for commencing direct peace talks between the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE.
Also, the two sides would take up the issue of declaring a ceasefire only after the commencement of talks between the two warring parties, the newspaper said.
Earlier, the Sri Lankan Government had insisted that as a precondition for talks, the LTTE should give up its demand for Eelam, a separate home land for Tamils in Sri Lankas north-east, and agree for a fixed time frame to conclude the negotiations.
Meanwhile, diplomatic sources here said the talks between the two were likely to take place in London and later, if necessary, in Colombo. The last round of talks between the two in 1994 were held in Colombo and Jaffna.
The LTTE was expected to field its spokesman, Anton Balasingham, leader of its political wing, Tamilchelvam and Karikalan, the sources said.
One of its top military wing leaders, Swarnam, is also likely to figure in the negotiations, they said.
War crimes tribunal for E. Timor unlikely
DILI (East Timor), Feb 18 (Reuters) United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today said an international war crimes tribunal over East Timor was still possible in Indonesia failed to prosecute those responsible.
"If the trial does not go forward as planned, they (the UN Security Council) may revert to an international tribunal," he told a news conference in the East Timor capital, Dili, before leaving for Australia.
"It is essential that those who committed the atrocities be brought to justice."
Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid has suspended former military chief General Wiranto from Cabinet after a human rights inquiry implicated him in the violence.
Despite Annans threat, it is widely believed the Security Council especially China and Russia would not sanction an international tribunal because of the precedent it would set.
A U.N. peacekeeping mission takes control of the territory next Wednesday, replacing a U.N.-mandated multinational force sent in to restore the peace.
JAKARTA (DPA): As many as 700 East Timorese have died from various illnesses at refugee camps across the border in Indonesia-ruled West Timor, it was reported on Friday.
The number of fatalities rose significantly from the 506 people reported dead last week since September, the official Antara news agency quoted Deputy East Nusa Tenggara Provincial Governor Johanis Pake Pani as saying.
Johanis said most of the
fatalities were children and pregnant women because of
illnesses at the refugee camps, which during the monsoon
season were frequently flooded and became breeding
grounds for mosquito-borne disease and sanitation
Hooch kills 43 in Feni
DHAKA, Feb 18 (Reuters) At least 43 persons died and up to 100 were ill after drinking bootleg alcohol in the Bangladesh town of Feni, police officials said today.
The victims from the town, 200 kms southeast of Dhaka, and nearby villages had participated in a lengthy drinking session on Tuesday night.
Drinking alcohol is illegal in Bangladesh but people often take cheap local brews with high content of methelated spirit and other toxic elements.
"It is difficult to know the exact death toll because many dead or sick people had been taken away by their relatives," one police officer said.
Newspaper reporters said some victims did not report to hospitals but went into hiding to avoid police and escape humiliation.
24 die in clashes
COTABATO (Philippines), Feb 18 (AFP) At least 22 Muslim guerrillas and two soldiers have died in fierce fighting in the southern Philippines after security forces launched an offensive on a rebel camp, the military said today.
Twentytwo soldiers and six civilians have been wounded in battles between government forces and the Muslim separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Fronts (MILF) following the attack starting Wednesday on the MILFs Camp Omar in the Maguindanao province, 850 km south of Manila, military officials said.
About 100 guerrillas on their way to reinforce Camp Omar seized two villages on the border of Maguindanao and North Cotabato yesterday, trapping hundreds of residents but later left before dawn on Friday, local army spokesman Capt Lito Aso said.
About 2,000 families,
most of them Christian settlers, fled the village, but
seven villagers, including a school principal, his wife
and son and a church worker, were taken by the rebels who
are using them as human shields, Major Ando said.
Hitler had plans to invade India
MOSCOW, Feb 18 (UNI) The German Army during the Nazi era had plans to invade India through Khyber Pass and Caucasus and later bifurcate it, a Russian historian has said.
As per the plan, codenamed "Barbossa Plan", the eastern part of the Indian sub-continent was to be placed under Japan and western under Nazi Germany, historian and indologist Grigory Bondariyevski told state run Radio Rus.
Prof Bondariyevski, recently given the Padamshree by the Indian Government for promoting relations between academicians of the two countries, said he came across the plan while studying Nazi archives of World War II era.
He said Adolf Hitler had prepared an elaborate plan to overrun the Soviet Union and capture large chunk of territories in the east to setup a strong Nazi empire.
Two corps of the Nazi armed forces were to straightaway head for the east and Indian sub-continent in south-east via Caucasus and Khyber Pass. Hitler had even decided whom to appoint governor for the Khyber region.
Hitler was enchanted by
prospects of taking away India, jewel of British
crown from England, but the check on Nazi
juggernaut by Soviet forces put paid to all his plans,
Prof Bondariyevsky said citing the 1941-45 German war
barred from poll
95 pc of US
Sons kill mother
for failing to cook
Mugger poses for
opens in Kabul
9 hurt in
to go on mapping
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