|Saturday, April 15, 2000,
Kims party fails to get
Court grants temporary stay
Swedish PM named in sex scandal
France backs India on terrorism
Russia ratifies START-II
MOSCOW, April 14 (DPA) Urged by a pre-vote pep talk from President Vladimir Putin, the Russian parliament today ratified the START-II nuclear disarmament treaty after years of delay.
The 1993 agreement, foreseeing a gradual reduction of numbers of nuclear warheads to 3,000 on the Russian side and 3,500 on the US Side, was passed by 288 votes to 131, with four abstentions. The treaty was ratified by the USA in 1996.
"Russia absolutely needs no further arms race, Mr Putin had warned deputies. Delaying ratification would be "harmful to Russias strategic nuclear capability, he was quoted by Interfax as telling the closed session of parliament.
The only opposition that had been expected was from the large communist faction in the parliament. "An act of high treason is being prepared, Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov said ahead of the vote.
Approval of the 1993 treaty between Washington and Moscow signified "the destruction of the nuclear shield that protects Russia, Mr Zyuganov said.
He urged the deputies to consider before they cast their votes "whether we can maintain our military defence or whether decades of slavery await us.
Although the communists are still the largest faction in the new Duma elected December last, they and their allies in the Agrarian Party are now outnumbered by forces backing the Kremlin.
The approving majority was well above the 226 votes in the 450-seat Assembly needed to secure the ratification.
The Dumas acceptance of the treaty was seen as a notable success for Mr Putin before he travels to London next week on his first foreign visit as the head of state.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov stressed that ratification would open the way for more reduction of weapons of mass destruction under a START-III agreement, news agencies quoted Mr Ivanov as saying.
Tentative talks have begun toward the third treaty in the series, which would provisionally reduce arsenals to 2,500 warheads on each side.
Interfax news agency yesterday cited Russian diplomatic sources as saying that Moscow could propose a level as low as 1,500, providing Washington continues to honour the 1972 anti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty.
Russia fears that the USA will press ahead with plans to deploy a national missile defence shield despite the ban on such a step imposed by the 1972 agreement.
It has said the implementation of START-II and talks about further cuts depend on the ABM treaty remaining in force.
Reuters Adds: START-II also offers Mr Putin some leverage in arms control talks with Washington, which wants to modify the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty to allow it to deploy a national missile defence system.
Kims party fails to get majority
SEOUL, April 14 (Reuters) South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung today faced the task of patching together a working majority in parliament after his Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) came up short in elections.
Both Mr Kims MDP and the main opposition Grand National Party posted gains in yesterdays National Assembly elections but neither has enough to command a majority.
The result could complicate but not necessarily derail the Presidents hallmark policies of market-driven reforms and reconciliation with North Korea.
Mr Kim failed to get an expected lift from the stunning election-eve announcement that the President would head to Pyongyang in June for an historic summit between the two Koreas.
Provisional results showed voters stuck to traditional party lines and regional loyalties, and with turnout at a record low of 57.2 per cent, many seemed apathetic about politics.
The results will undoubtedly embolden the GNP as both parties look now to the 2002 presidential election. But both major parties also broadly agree on the need to reform the corporate and financial sectors.
"I dont see a big difference in policy, said Chaibong Hahm, a politics professor at Seouls Yonsei University. "Furthermore, the GNPs (leader) Lee Hoi-Chang now has his eye on the big prize, so he has to act in a presidential way, not like a scrappy Opposition leader.
One big test coming up will be on the government-backed plan to sell Daewoo Motor to a foreign car company. The GNP had criticised the government during the campaign for selling prized national assets at firesale prices.
President Kim is expected to court the conservative United Liberal Democrats (ULD), which was part of his coalition government before bolting in February.
The ULD was the big loser in the elections, going from 50 seats to just 17. The GNP appeared to be the prime beneficiary of the ULDs collapse.
The right-of-centre Grand National Party (GNP) won 133 of the assemblys 273 seats, just four short of a majority, for a net gain 11 seats. Kims MDP gained 17 seats for a total of 115 in the new Assembly.
The Presidents Millennium Democratic Party expanded its 98 seats in parliament to 115 but fell short of outnumbering the Opposition, sparking speculation it would seek support from other parties and independents.
Small parties shared three seats, and five went to independents.
Analysts said the Presidents party won some extra support thanks to news of an historic June 12-14 summit with North Korea and his economic record, credited with rescuing the country from collapse.
An alliance of nearly 500 citizens groups that issued lists of candidates it described as "incompetent, corrupt and lazy claimed victory in the elections as many of those named were defeated.
"Were happy, a group spokesman said. "About 70 per cent of those we opposed lost.
group, seen as a by-product of economic liberalisation
and the explosive growth of the internet over the past
two years, proved a boost to Kim in Seoul, where its
appeal to the capitals younger voter base helped
the MDP gain 10 extra seats.
MIAMI, April 14 (AP) A federal appeals court issued a temporary stay that keeps Elian Gonzalez in the USA while the government and his relatives fight over whether he will be returned to his father and sent home to Cuba.
The government said it expected the order, which came yesterday barely an hour after the passing of a government deadline for the boys Miami relatives to hand him over, would delay any showdown for "three or four days."
It was not immediately clear how long the stay would be in effect.
The Justice Department, however, said it had agreed to wait to reclaim the boy until the court could review the emergency petition filed by Elians great-uncle Lazaro Gonzalez. The government had said through most of the day that it would act to take custody of the boy after its deadline passed a deadline the Miami relatives ignored.
The appeals court asked the Department of Justice to forestall any enforcement action while they review a motion for a temporary injunction by attorneys for Lazaro Gonzalez, the agency said in a statement.
"We agreed to this with a time frame in mind of three or four days," Justice spokeswoman Carole Florman said.
Earlier, Attorney General Janet Reno said the government would act in a "reasonable, measured way."
Swedish PM named in sex scandal
STOCKHOLM, April 14 (AFP) Swedish Prime Minister and some private persons were involved in trafficking and sexual abuse of minors," said Janis Adamsons, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee investigating the child sex scandal, yesterday.
Presenting the committees final report, Adamsons told Parliament that it believed it had "credible information" that Prime Minister Skele, Justice Minister Valdis Birkavs, State Revenue Service Director Andrejs Sonciks, Latvian Postal Service Director Aivars Droiskis, and a Director of a Riga secondary school were linked to the scandal.
Most of the officials were named earlier by Adamsons but have all strongly denied any wrongdoing.
High prosecutor Modris Adlers said the Latvian Prosecutor-Generals Office had so far not found any evidence against the persons named in the report, Baltic News Service reported.
The scandal broke last year after the police raided a center where they found evidence that it had lured hundreds of children in the production of pornography.
France backs India on terrorism
PARIS, April 14 (PTI) France today said Indias specific concerns on cross-border terrorism were justified and the growing threat to New Delhi had prompted Paris to reinforce its dialogue with Pakistan on the subject.
"We fully understand Indias concerns on cross-border terrorism. I raised this subject during my discussions with Genral Pervez Musharraf in Paris on April 10, French Foreign Minister, Hubert Vedrine told PTI in an interview.
Pakistans Chief Executive Gen Musharraf, en route to Havana for the Group of 77 Nations conference, was given a "frank" briefing by the French authorities on the need to restore democracy in Pakistan and they also expressed concern over the country being a haven for terrorist outfits.
Talking on a wide range
of bilateral issues, ahead of Indian President K. R.
Narayanans state visit next week, Mr Vedrine said
France itself had been a victim of terrorism hence it
oppose all forms of terrorist activities.
MOSCOW, April 14 (UNI) In a surprise move apparently aimed at mollifying concerns about alleged human rights violations in Chechnya, Russian President Vladimir Putin has assured Russias critics in the West that each case of human rights violations in Chechnya would be thoroughly investigated and the guilty would be punished.
"Chechnya is our shame and a pain for us," President said, in a statement yesterday on the issue.
"The task of Russian troops in Chechnya is to protect human dignity and protect people of the land," he said. At the same time, he reminded the world how more than 2,00,000 Russian nationals and over 6,00,000 Chechens had been uprooted by the separatists and extremists during last nine years of civil strife there.
On his return from West European capitals yesterday Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov had made it clear that Russia was not scared of holding talks with the sober elements in Chechnya. "But any "diktat" will be totally unacceptable to Kremlin," he told the media while summing up the results of his parleys in Western capitals.
Meanwhile, even as most of the Russian media is gloating over Russian troops offensive in Chechenya, a Moscow-based illustrated weekly "Itogi", brought out in collaboration with a leading US journal, has depicted a very dismal picture of the situation in the Chechen battlefields. Three times in a month alone, in March, Chechen rebel armed formations annihilated a whole company of Pakov paratroopers, liquidated a unit belong to Russian Interior Ministry and ambushed another unit of the Perm police, it says.
Russian generals who led the military offensive in Chechnya, weekly points out, have been promoted and given comfortable positions elsewhere. Tradition demanded that if a general performs his duty with flying colours, he is handed over larger units to command, weekly says.
The struggle for higher
position in the "rear" at a time when military
operations in Chechnya have entered a new and more
complex phase looks like an attempt to place blame for
the protracted war at somebody elses doors, weekly
Human cloning bill cleared
TOKYO, April 14 (Reuters) The Japanese Cabinet today approved a rare bill that will ban human cloning, even at a research level, and could punish offenders with prison terms of up to five years.
The bill now goes to Parliament and, if passed, will be the first Japanese law mandating punishment for certain scientific research.
"It is felt that human cloning could damage human dignity and break down the social structure by muddling family ties," a spokesman for the Science and Technology Agency said.
The bill will outlaw the act of putting a cloned human embryo in which a body cell is transplanted into an unfertilised egg from which the nucleus has been removed back into the womb of humans or animals.
Punishments for those who break the lan will be fines of up to 5,000,00 yen ($ 47,210), a prison sentence of up to five years, or both.
The law will also ban the transplant of hybrid embryos, or human egg cells fertilised with animal sperm, as well as chimera embryos made by combining human and animal embryo cells.
UN body okays arms inspection plan
UNITED NATIONS, April 14 (Reuters) The UN Chief inspector for Iraq easily won approval by the UN Security Council for an organisation plan but now faces choosing a staff and convincing Baghdad to let arms experts return.
Mr Hans Blix began his job on March 1 as executive chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission or UNMOVIC, which replaces the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM), last headed by Australian diplomat Richard Butler.
His first report, released on April 6, was unanimously approved by council members yesterday. It is based on the assumption Iraq will accept the new monitoring system.
Baghdad has not allowed inspectors into the country since US-British bombing raids in December 1998, even though its cooperation is key to any easing of sanctions in force since Iraqs 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
Russia, an ally of Iraq, indicated a change of heart was still a long way off.
Mr Blix, a former Swedish Foreign Minister who ran the International Atomic Energy Agency for 16 years, also made clear in his report that he did not want a repeat of accusations of inspectors spying for the USA. His plan separates intelligence gathering from inspections.
Unlike UNSCOM, which relied mainly on experts seconded from and paid by their own governments, UNMOVIC staff will be UN employees. This is intended to bar them from receiving orders from their governments or any other outside body.
Mr Blix has said he would select a core staff shortly, and some current staff from UNSCOM have re-applied for their jobs. He said the first criterion was competence and the second was as broad a geographical distribution as possible.
Mr Blixs plan shows no political advisers as UNSCOM had from several countries, including Russia.
15 LTTE men killed in counter attacks
COLOMBO, April 14 (AP) Government troops shot and killed 15 LTTE rebels in northern Sri Lanka as rebels in counter attacks killed one soldier and wounded 33 others, the defence ministry said today.
capsize toll 87
execution in USA
becomes US citizen
1401 yrs in prison
Campbells new love
for 2 ex-ministers
claims 216 lives in Africa
Robot assists in
fetch £ 1.1 million
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