Saturday, April 15, 2000,
Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

Unidentified armed war veterans occupy a white-owned farm called Bunks Hill at Harare on Thursday. Zimbabwe's Vice-President Joseph Msika asked war veterans who have invaded more than 1,000 white-owned farms in recent months to move off the farms
Unidentified armed war veterans occupy a white-owned farm called Bunks Hill at Harare on Thursday. Zimbabwe's Vice-President Joseph Msika asked war veterans who have invaded more than 1,000 white-owned farms in recent months to move off the farms. — AP photo

Russia ratifies START-II
MOSCOW, April 14 — 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.

Kim’s party fails to get majority
SEOUL, April 14 — South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung today faced the task of patching together a working majority in parliament after his Millennium Democratic Party came up short in elections.

Court grants temporary stay
MIAMI, April 14 — 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.

Swedish PM named in sex scandal
STOCKHOLM, April 14 — 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.

France backs India on terrorism
PARIS, April 14 — France today said India’s 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.



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The Dalai Lama, left, accompanied by Tibetan staff of Liason Office of His Holiness The Dalai Lama in Japan Gyurme Wangda, sits in front of a mandala tapestry as he gives a lecture in Tokyo on Friday morning. The Tibetan spiritual leader is on a weeklong visit to Japan
The Dalai Lama, left, accompanied by Tibetan staff of Liason Office of His Holiness The Dalai Lama in Japan Gyurme Wangda, sits in front of a mandala tapestry as he gives a lecture in Tokyo on Friday morning. The Tibetan spiritual leader is on a weeklong visit to Japan. — PTI photo

Putin assures punishment
MOSCOW, April 14 — In a surprise move apparently aimed at mollifying concerns about alleged human rights violations in Chechnya, Russian President Vladimir Putin has assured Russia’s critics in the West that each case of human rights violations in Chechnya would be thoroughly investigated and the guilty would be punished.

Human cloning bill cleared
TOKYO, April 14 — 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.

UN body okays arms inspection plan
UNITED NATIONS, April 14 — 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.

15 LTTE men killed in counter attacks
COLOMBO, April 14 — 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.

Top




 

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 Russia’s 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 Duma’s 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.

Diplomats from both sides said in Geneva yesterday that the USA and Russian officials would hold talks there next week to assess the prospects for launching talks on START-III.Top

 

Kim’s 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 Kim’s MDP and the main opposition Grand National Party posted gains in yesterday’s National Assembly elections but neither has enough to command a majority.

The result could complicate — but not necessarily derail — the President’s 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 don’t see a big difference in policy,’’ said Chaibong Hahm, a politics professor at Seoul’s Yonsei University. "Furthermore, the GNP’s (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 ULD’s collapse.

The right-of-centre Grand National Party (GNP) won 133 of the assembly’s 273 seats, just four short of a majority, for a net gain 11 seats. Kim’s MDP gained 17 seats for a total of 115 in the new Assembly.

The President’s 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 President’s 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 citizen’s 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.

"We’re happy,’’ a group spokesman said. "About 70 per cent of those we opposed lost.’’

The citizen’s 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 capital’s younger voter base helped the MDP gain 10 extra seats.Top

 

Elian case
Court grants temporary stay

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 boy’s 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 Elian’s 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."

"We have the authority to take action," Reno said. "But responsible authority means not only knowing when to take action, but how and when to take that action." Top

 

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 committee’s 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-General’s 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.

It was later revealed by investigative journalists that the center forced some children into prostitution, and may have sold sexual services to government ministers.Top

 

France backs India on terrorism

PARIS, April 14 (PTI) — France today said India’s 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 India’s 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.

Pakistan’s 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. Narayanan’s state visit next week, Mr Vedrine said France itself had been a victim of terrorism hence it oppose all forms of terrorist activities.Top

 

Rights abuse
Putin assures punishment

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 Russia’s 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 else’s doors, weekly Itogi says. Top

 

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.

Some types of basic clone research may be permitted if they are deemed essential and cannot be carried out in any other way, but will require review and prior approval by a committee of experts.Top

 

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 Iraq’s 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 Blix’s plan shows no political advisers as UNSCOM had from several countries, including Russia.

A college of commissioners, a mixture of outside experts and government officials, will meet at least four times a year to provide advice and guidance.Top

 

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.

UNI adds: With no let-up in fighting even during the Tamil-Sinhala new year day celebrations yesterday, at least 23 persons were killed in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka.Top

 
WORLD BRIEFS

Boat capsize toll 87
JOLO (Philippines): No life vests were available for scores of illegal passengers on an overloaded Philippine boat that capsized, killing at least 87 persons, survivors said today. Dozens of other passengers remained missing more than a day after the wooden-hulled Annahada capsized shortly after leaving Jolo, the Capital of remote Sulu province, en route Malaysia’s Sabah state.— AP

Electric execution in USA
ATMORE, (USA): A convicted killer who unsuccessfully appealed against Alabama’s use of the electric chair to the US Supreme Court was put to death by electrocution early on Friday. Robert Lee Tarver was executed shortly after midnight (1030 am Ist), officials said. Tarver, 52, who spent 14 years on death row, was convicted of the 1984 murder of Hugh Sims Kite, a rural convenience store owner. — Reuters

Anthony Hopkins becomes US citizen
LOS ANGELES: Just call him plain old Tony, just like his former Prime Minister. Thespian Sir Anthony Hopkins CBE (Commander of the British Empire), holder of an Oscar for best actor for playing a cannibal named Hannibal, and the pride of his native Wales, has just become a US citizen. But lest there be tears in the valleys, Hopkins, who was sworn in as a US citizen on Wednesday, wants it known that he is now a dual citizen of both Britain and America. — Reuters

Sentenced to 1401 yrs in prison
MADRID: A former activist of the underground Basque separatist group ETA has been sentenced to 1,401 years in prison for taking part in a car bomb attack which killed 12 persons, the national court said here. Juan Manuel Soares Gamboa and his companions attacked a bus carrying police officers here in 1986, killing 12 personnel and injuring 60. — DPA

Naomi Campbell’s new love
LONDON: British stars Naomi Campbell and Joseph Fiennes are "an item", according to the Daily Mirror, which predicted the news would come as a shock to Flavio Briatore, founder of the Benetton racing team, with whom Campbell holidayed in Africa last month. The black supermodel and actor, star of ‘Shakespeare in Love’, had a "a chummy evening’’ on Sunday, the tabloid reported on Thursday. Campbell then joined Fiennes "for a cosy dinner at an exclusive hotel’’, after which their friendship "exploded into full-scale passion’’. — DPA

Death sentence for 2 ex-ministers
APIA (SAMOA): Two former Cabinet ministers have been sentenced to death by a judge who upheld a jury’s verdict that they had plotted the murder of a rival member of Samoa’s government. But the men are unlikely to be executed. Since 1961, the country’s Head of State has commuted all death sentences to life imprisonment. The defendants, former Women’s Affairs Minister Leafa Vitale, 57, and former Communications Minister Toi Aukuso, 68, were found guilty of planning the murder of Luagalau Levaula Kamu, who was shot in the back. on July 16, 1999. — AP

Meninigitis claims 216 lives in Africa
BANGUI: Meningitis has killed at least 216 persons in the central African republic since the end of February, a senior health official said here. Mr Gilbert Nzilkoui, Director-General of the Public Health Department, said on Thursday that around 1,400 cases had been recorded in the same period. Bangui itself and northern regions near the borders with Sudan and Chad were worst affected. — Reuters

Robot assists in facial surgery
BERLIN: Doctors at Humboldt University here have said that a robot helped them attach an artificial ear to a 14-year-old girl in a medical breakthrough. In what they said was the world’s first robot-assisted facial surgery, the robot nicknamed "Otto’’ helped attach the ear to a girl. The robot, which cost eight million marks ($ 3.9 million), was described as the first of its kind in the world. — Reuters

Ancient poems fetch 1.1 million
LONDON: A collection of illustrated poems by Persian poet Hazef have fetched 1.1 million at auction, far exceeding estimates, Sotheby’s said. The 16th century Oriental manuscript of the ‘Diwan’, decorated with 873 illustrations of birds, was top of the lot of a sale of arts of the Islamic world that fetched a total of 7.0 million. — ReutersTop

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