|Tuesday, April 18, 2000,
over Elian hots up
|Comfort women demand
SHANGHAI, April 17 Wan Aihua, a defiant glint in her eyes, pulled up her undershirt to reveal multiple scars along her midriff to the audience at a rare Chinese conference on comfort women.
Kuchma wins vote on more
to kill Americans
Anwar protesters in police custody
SC acquits ex-naval officer
Terrorism out of place: Narayanan
PARIS, April 17 (UNI) President K.R. Narayanan today called for a comprehensive international convention on terrorism so as to signal the worlds determination to fight this scourge of our times.
Speaking at a banquet hosted by French President Jacques Chirac here tonight, Mr Narayanan said: Religious imbalance, extremist fundamentalism and methods of violence and terrorism have become entirely out of tune and out of place in a world where only an attitude of tolerance and peaceful co-existence could be relevant.
Referring to the exciting path of growth in India with a GDP growth rate of 6 per cent, the President said: The genius of France holds enormous opportunities for meaningful cooperation in the fields of investment, trade and enterprise. He called for joint efforts by the two countries for building a strong and multifaceted bilateral relationship in the new century. Noting that the first-ever summit of the Indo-European Union will be held on June 28 in Lisbon in Portugal, Mr Narayanan said this would be a milestone in the relations with Europe and help to institutionalise bilateral relationship for mutual benefit. He said India looked forward to working with France, especially at a time when it will assume the presidency of the European Union from July.
Blair opposes move to isolate Russia
LONDON, April 17 (Reuters AFP) Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin, in Britain on his first foreign trip since his election victory, met British Prime Minister Tony Blair today, as Downing Street brushed aside critics of the trip.
Some 50 to 60 protesters upset by Russias tough military campaign against separatists in Chechnya turned up outside Downing Street as Mr Putin arrived in his black Zil limousine. They were shouting and waving banners demanding stop the torture in Chechnya.
Mr Putin and Mr Blair ignored the demonstrators as they shook hands and exchanged greetings, then went inside for talks and lunch. In a touch reminiscent of cold war summits, Mr Putin was followed by two naval officers carrying what is said to be Russias nuclear briefcase.
Russian officials say Mr Putin wants to use his trip to Britain as a bridge-builder with the USA. But much of the media coverage ahead of the visit focused on his crushing of Chechen opposition.
The Prime Minister is not going to apologise for developing a good relationship with a new world leader, Mr Blairs spokesman Alastair Campbell said just before the meeting with Mr Putin began.
What we wont do is to allow the entirety of our relations with Russia...to be defined by one issue, Mr Campbell said.
Before seeing Mr Blair, Mr Putin met business leaders and appealed to them to invest in the new Russia, saying Moscow would do everything possible to modernise its economy.
He sought to present Russia not as a minor power with a begging bowl but as an emerging giant in which the potential for business cooperation was colossal.
Russia is not a shortened map of the ex-Soviet Union, he said. It is a country with tremendous self confidence. He pledged to reduce taxes, respect ownership of property, reform regulations and make sure they were applied consistently.
Mr Putin, who is only a few months older than Mr Blair, is clearly keen to make the most of the British Premiers close friendship with US President Mr Bill Clinton.
But the Russian leader may protest to Blair over the US plans to amend the 1972 anti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty, which currently prevents USA from carrying out plans to set up a national anti-missile defence system against rogue states.
Russia strongly opposes the US plans, for which Mr Blairs involvement would be needed, since the system would require changes to US satellite facilities in Britain.
Russias concerns...Are well known, Mr Campbell said. But the discussions about the issue will continue.
Earlier Mr Putin has announced here that a presidential election would be held in Chechnya within two years, the Russian Interfax news agency reported.
A presidential election will be held in Chechnya in a year and a half or two years at the latest. Mr Putin told Russian journalists yesterday shortly after his arrival here for an official visit.
His announcement echoes that of a Russian representative in Chechnya Nikolai Kochman, who said on March 31 that presidential and legislative elections in the rebel republic would be held within two years as long as the situation there remained stable.
Battle over Elian hots up
MIAMI, April 17 (AFP) The public relations battle in the tug-of-war over Elian Gonzalez has escalated as the US government vowed to act decisively to end the four-month-old stand-off.
A major US network has prepared to air his fathers first major interview since he arrived in the USA.
The Miami Herald reported that Elian was apparently reluctant to take a phone call from his father, Juan Miguel, on Saturday. And although he blew kisses into the receiver at the end of the 20-minute call, the boy burst into tears afterwards, the Herald said yesterday.
Advisers to Mr Juan Miguel, a tourism worker from Cardenas, Cuba, claim he has only been able to speak to his son three times since arriving here last week.
His estranged relatives in Miami, meanwhile, have insisted Elian is afraid of his father and of returning to Cuba.
In Washington, Mr Juan Miguel broke his media silence, going on the offensive to rebut his relatives accusations that he beat his first wife to the point where she had to go to a hospital, as well as Elian.
These are lies. This is an attempt to smear me, he told the network, according to excerpts released by the CBS.
Reuter adds: The war of words over the fate of the shipwreck survivors custody continued yesterday as the US, court of appeals in Atlanta considered the Miami relatives last-ditch request for an order to prevent the boys transfer to his fathers care and his return to Cuba.
Once the 11th circuit has ruled, I think the government is prepared to effectuate a return of Elian to the custody of his father where he belongs, White House Chief of Staff John Podesta said on NBCs Meet the Press, programme.
Comfort women demand justice
SHANGHAI, April 17 (Reuters) Wan Aihua, a defiant glint in her eyes, pulled up her undershirt to reveal multiple scars along her midriff to the audience at a rare Chinese conference on comfort women.
I am a living proof of the atrocities of the Japanese army, said the wiry 71-year-old. And look at this, she added, turning her head to the side to reveal a grotesquely torn ear-lobe.
A reporter had challenged her to show proof she had been forced into sex slavery by the invading Japanese army before and during World War II.
Wans scars were revealed at the first conference of its kind in China, bearing testimony to the atrocities that occurred and highlighting a drive by comfort women to obtain an apology and compensation from Japan.
Born in inner Mongolia in 1929, Wan was sold by her opium-smoking father to a family in the northern province of Shanxi before the Japanese invasion in 1938.
In one of the raids to the villages in June 1943, Wan was captured by the Japanese soldiers and brutally gang-raped. Twice again each time lasting for a month she fell to the hands of the Japanese and endured hideous torture and sex slavery.
I want people to know what happened, Wan said, her voice cracking. The word comfort woman gives people no idea of the beastly brutality we have suffered.
Coming out with her story in 1992, Wan was the first Chinese woman to tell her wartime trauma of sex slavery to the public.
Comfort women refers to a system of forcing women in many countries under Japanese occupation to be sex slaves to the invading army, with the acquiescence of Japanese authorities, said Su Zhiliang, Director of the Comfort Women Studies Centre at Shanghai Normal University.
Comfort women is the only known institutionalised sexual aggression against women, he said. It was a violation of the basic humanity on an unprecedented scale.
Kuchma wins vote on more powers
KIEV, April 17 (Reuters) Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma won a landslide victory in a controversial weekend referendum on expanding his powers over Parliament.
The Central Election Commission said on its Internet site that with 100 per cent of ballots counted each of the four questions put to voters in the plebiscite had mustered more than 80 per cent backing.
It said turnout was almost 79 per cent, easily passing the 50 per cent needed to make the poll valid.
Opposition parties have slammed the vote as an attempt to put Parliament into Kuchmas pocket and stifle the former Soviet states democracy while rights watchdog the Council of Europe also objected to the referendum.
But Kuchma had insisted he needed to increase his influence over Parliament, which, he has accused of stalling reforms. Citizens hoping for a better life after nine years of post-Soviet turbulence seemed to have agreed.
The high turnout
confirms the fact that our citizens should and may
resolve major issues of our states future
themselves, without the recommendations even of such
respected organisations as the Council of Europe,
Election Commission Head Mykhailo Ryabets said late on
Threat to kill Americans
MANILA, April 17 (DPA) Muslim extremist rebels today threatened to execute or abduct American nationals in the Philippines if US President Bill Clinton refuses to free World Trade Centre bomber Ramzi Yousef.
The Abu Sayyaf group has demanded the freedom of Yousef and two other Muslim terrorists jailed in the USA in exchange for the release of 29 hostages in the Hinterlands of the Basilan province, 915 km south of America.
Abu Ahmad Salayuddin, a spokesman for the extremist group, said Philippine President Joseph Estrada must immediately make a formal request to Mr Clinton for the release of Yousef, Abu Haidal and Sheik Abdul Omar.
We have 29 lives in our hands, Salayuddin said in a interview with a Manila radio station. President Estrada should give importance to these lives and talk with President Clinton about our demands.
45 Anwar protesters in police custody
KUALA LUMPUR, April 17 (Reuters) A Malaysian court today ordered 45 persons to be remanded in police custody for up to six days, following protests marking the first anniversary of the conviction of former Finance Minister Anwar Ibrahim.
Three leaders of the Opposition party, Keadilan National, in handcuffs, were also produced in court and expected to be remanded in custody till April 22, court officials told Reuters.
Russias SC acquits ex-naval officer
MOSCOW, April 17 (AFP) The Russian Supreme Court today upheld the acquittal of former Russian naval officer Alexander Nikitin, charged with treason for exposing nuclear pollution, the Interfax news agency reported.
A former submarine officer, Nikitin, 46, faced a 12-year jail term for passing information exposing unsafe nuclear waste habits of Russias dilapidating Northern Fleet to an ecologist group.
Moore back on screen as spy
to hold protest
conjure up memories
Bishops angry at
crawls 8 km to get help
Bill to end
abuses against women
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