|Thursday, March 30, 2000,
in Sharif case on April 6
UN official leaves Iraq in disgust
brass meets Israeli officials
to get new Bofors gun for trials
|Like-minded people to
form Russias Cabinet
MOSCOW, March 29 Russian President Vladimir Putin is keen to install a cabinet comprising like-minded people, well-informed sources here have hinted.Mr Putin, to be sworn in on May 5, will submit to the Duma in 10 days the name of his candidate for the Premiers post.
NRI nominations for Zee
thrown at Queen Elizabeth
Verdict in Sharif case on April 6
KARACHI, March 29 (AFP, AP) An anti-terrorism court today said it would announce its verdict in a case against deposed Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his brother and five other accused on April 6.
I have full faith in Allah. I am innocent, Mr Sharif told reporters in the court as the trial ended.
The defence lawyer for a co-accused in the hijacking trial of Mr Sharif hammered away today at apparent contradictions in testimony from prosecution witnesses.
Manzoor Malik presented closing arguments for former southern Sindh provincial police chief, Rana Maqbool, who faces charges of hijacking, terrorism, attempted murder and kidnapping along with Mr Sharif and five other accused.
The men have pleaded not guilty. If convicted they could face the death sentence.
The men are charged with refusing to allow the aircraft carrying Pakistan Army Chief Gen Pervez Musharraf to land in southern Karachi on October 12 last year.
Top UN official leaves Iraq in disgust
BAGHDAD, March 29 (Reuters) The top U.N. humanitarian official in Iraq left the country today after resigning his post, saying the programme he headed had prolonged the suffering of the Iraqi people instead of alleviating it.
Hans Von Sponeck, co-ordinator of the U.N.s humanitarian Oil-for-Food Programme, told reporters before his departure for Jordan by road:
I cannot, any longer, be associated with a programme that prolongs sufferings of the people and which has no chance to meet even basic needs of the civilian population.
Von Sponeck, a German career U.N. Official, resigned in February after saying the programme was not meeting the minimum needs of Iraqs 22 million people.
He said he saw no prospects for improvement in Iraq under a U.N. Security Council resolution passed in December which would ease sanctions if Baghdad allowed international weapons inspectors to return to the country. Iraq has rejected the resolution.
I leave with a deep conviction that the overwhelming evidence that the international community now has is that things have not gone well in Iraq and that the target has been missed, he said.
Von Sponeck angered the USA by criticising the trade sanctions that have been imposed on Iraq since it invaded Kuwait in 1990. Washington welcomed his resignation.
Tun Myat, an official of the Rome-based World Food Programme (WFP) and a native of Myanmar, was named on Tuesday to replace Von Sponeck, whose predecessor, Dennis Halliday of Ireland, also resigned for similar reasons.
Iraq is under U.N. Orders to destroy its weapons of mass destruction, a key condition for lifting sanctions.
It has banned U.N. disarmament inspectors since 1998, when Washington and London launched four days of extensive air and missile attacks for its failure to cooperate with the monitors.
All parties both within Iraq and outside have to now make a very serious effort to get out of this terrible stalemate which continues to deprive the Iraqi population of everything that people elsewhere have, Von Sponeck said.
President Saddam Hussein praised Von Sponeck when he met him on Sunday. He was the first U.N. Official based in Iraq to be received by Saddam since the 1991 Gulf war.
Navy brass meets Israeli officials
EILAT (South Israel), March 29 (PTI) Senior naval officials have held useful discussions with their Israeli counterparts to promote military contact between the two countries as part of a goodwill visit of three Indian warships to this southern Israeli port.
We had some meetings with senior Israeli naval officials, including deputy chief of their Navy, Vice-Admiral Madhvendra Singh, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (FOC-in-C), Western Naval Command, said during a reception hosted by him here yesterday on board INS Gomti, one of the three Indian warships carrying about 1000 officers and sailors here.
We had a very useful round of discussions with Israeli naval officials and look forward to more goodwill visits and meetings, Western Fleet FOC, Rear Adm Suresh Mehta, who is in overall command of the visiting Indian warships, said.
The interaction assumes significance in the wake of growing defence ties between the two countries in recent times and analysts say the visit of Indian warships is expected to further boost military ties between the two countries.
Indian naval officials, however, emphasised the visit was purely to promote peace, harmony and people-to-people interaction.
Welcoming INS Gomti (missile frigate), INS Shakti (tanker) and INS Ranvir (destroyer) and the accompanying seamen, the deputy chief of Israeli navy said they were looking forward to a strong relationship with their Indian counterpart.
Describing the Indian Navy as highly professional, he said Israel may return a similar goodwill naval visit to India in future depending on the situation in this region (Israel).
The Indian warships are on a peace mission, he said, hoping for a return visit by the Israeli navy.
During the reception, attended by senior diplomats and officials including Indian Ambassador Ranjan Mathai, Israeli naval officers interacted with their Indian counterparts on board the Indian missile frigate and shared experiences.
India to get new Bofors gun for trials
LONDON, March 29 (PTI) The latest version of the 155 mm Bofors guns will be sent to India for extensive field trials on no cost, no commitment basis in May this year, Janes defence weekly says in its latest issue.
According to the report, the Defence Ministry has accepted Bofors Weapons Systems offer to send the 45-calibre FH-77 BD, a towed version of the one already in use with the Army and that played a devastating role in the Kargil war, for trials.
India would invite a number of companies to demonstrate their 155 mm artillery systems in a bid to finalise its choice to meet the Armys requirement of about 200 more field howitzers, the report says.
The FH-77 BD 6x6 self-propelled artillery system and French Giat Industries Caesar 6x6 155mm 52-calibre systems are seen as possible alternatives to the towed weapon systems.
Compared with conventional full-tracked self-propelled artillery systems, these weapons would be cheaper to procure and maintain and offer greater strategic mobility.
Like-minded people to form Russias Cabinet
MOSCOW, March 29 (UNI) Russian President Vladimir Putin is keen to install a cabinet comprising like-minded people, well-informed sources here have hinted.Mr Putin, to be sworn in on May 5, will submit to the Duma in 10 days the name of his candidate for the Premiers post. The Cabinet may, to some extent, tilt to the Left of centre as reported by the citys largest-circulated daily Moskovsky Komsomolets which predicted inclusion of Moscow Governor Boris Gromov and former military officer and Kemerovo Governor Aman Tuleyev, who secured fourth place in the just-concluded presidential elections. Both leaders are known to hold Leftist views.
Mr Putin is reported to have mooted the idea of forming a coordinating body for security and foreign affairs under former Premier Yevgeni Primakov.
Kremlin officials had been describing Mr Primakov as a spent cartridge, but political observers here have remarked that the first man to meet Mr Primakov, after he was removed from premiership last year, was Mr Putin. The latter had served under Mr Primakov in the Federal Security Service.
Analysing the elections impact, the state-owned Novosti news agency reminded people that Mr Putin had gone on record stating that he would not ignore the one-third electorate who had voted for Communist party Chairman Gennadi Zyuganov. I do not want confrontation, he said.
Making another significant comment on the peoples thinking, the agency concludes that Communists are no longer viewed as diehard opposition. Social accord is finally emerging in Russia, it claimed.
However, Voice of Russia has cautioned Mr Putins team about the high expectations people have placed in him.
On the foreign front, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Secretary-General George Robertson said some days back in Brussels that relations between Russia and NATO must be based on three Cs contact, confidence and cooperation.
The President-elect has asked key figures in government to plunge themselves into the task of preparing a philosophy of action for developing the countrys economy, senior government officials told mediapersons.
While prominent figures here and abroad warmly greeted Mr Putins victory, Russias armed forces celebrated the appointment of their supreme commander in a unique fashion. A nuclear submarine stationed in the Barents sea fired two ballistic missiles on Monday morning, an indication of the immense popularity Mr Putin enjoys among servicemen.
Political analysts here are carefully watching how Kremlin prepares Mr Putins programmes for meeting world leaders. The July G-8 summit in Japan will be attended by the enigmatic former KGB operative. Washington will also have to reckon with the altered political scene in the Kremlin, for the White House will have to deal with a man not acting according to moods but one who is a very cool-headed statesman.
Western media never tire of emphasising Mr Putins KGB background. But this very background seems to reassure the average Russian. Artist Oleg Yankovsky was quoted as saying, former KGB men were not corrupt and had been working for the nation. What we needed was a man of action and Putin is exactly such a person.
Other analysts ask, If George Bush could become US President after having been an unchallenged boss of the dreaded CIA, why cant a former KGB man occupy Kremlins highest post?
NRI nominations for Zee Bollywood awards
NEW YORK, March 29 (PTI) Non-resident Indian (NRI) movie fans have nominated Subash Ghais Taal, Vashu Bagnanis Biwi No 1 and Jhamu Sughands Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam for the Zee Gold Bollywhood awards to be presented in May this year.
NRIs were polled over last several weeks and their three top choices in various categories have been nominated for the awards out of which one would be chosen.
Ajay Devgan (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam), Sanjay Dutt (Vaastav) and Salman Khan (Biwi No 1) get the nominations for best actor.
For best actress, Aishwarya Rai (Taal and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam) and Kajol (Hum Aap Ke Dil Mein Rahte Hain) will compete.
The nominations in other categories are:
Best director: Subash Ghai (Taal), Sanjay Leela Bhansali (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam) and David Dhawan (Biwi No 1)
Best actor (critics choice): Anil Kapoor Taal, Ajay Devgan Thakshak and Amitabh Bachhan Sooryavansham.
Best actress (critics choice): Tabu Hu Tu Tu, Aishwarya Rai- Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, and Kajol Hum Aap Ke Dil Mein Rehte Hain.
Best actor in a sensational role: Anil Kapoor Biwi No 1, Govinda Haseena Maan Jaayengi and Akshay Khanna Taal.
Tomato thrown at Queen Elizabeth
SYDNEY, March 29 (DPA) A tomato thrown at Queen Elizabeth II during a meet-the-people session in Tasmania today narrowly missed the monarch and Prince Philip.
The royal couple, midway through a two-week tour of Australia, were greeting well-wishers in a Launceston city park when the tomato was thrown from the crowd.
Prince Philip signalled to security officers the direction the tomato came from but the culprit was not identified. Security staff refused to comment on whether the incident was related to last Novembers republican referendum in which Australians voted to keep constitutional ties with Britain that make Elizabeth the Queen of Australia.
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