Saturday, April 22, 2000,
Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (right) greets his South African counterpart, Mr Thabo Mbeki, on his arrival at the Elephant Hills Hotel in Victoria Falls for a summit on Friday
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (right) greets his South African counterpart, Mr Thabo Mbeki, on his arrival at the Elephant Hills Hotel in Victoria Falls for a summit on Friday. — AFP photo

Regional African summit opens in Zimbabwe
HARARE, April 21 — Mobs of independence war veterans kept up their campaign of violence against white-owned farms in Zimbabwe overnight as regional leaders prepared to hold talks on the country’s escalating crisis.

PML, GDA mend fences
LAHORE, April 21 — After joining hands with Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party to fight for democracy, the Pakistan Muslim League has now reached an understanding with the Grand Democratic Alliance to end their mutual confrontation.

Iranians protest against reformists
TEHRAN, April 21 — Thousands of Iranians demonstrated here today to denounce reformist politicians, including allies of President Mohammad Khatami, accused of making anti-Islamic statements at a recent conference in Germany.

Reunite Elian with father: Clinton
WASHINGTON, April 21 — As the painful standoff over Cuban castaway Elian Gonzalez stretched on, the US President, Mr Bill Clinton, demanded on Thursday that the boy be returned to his father, but refused to say what action he might take to force the Miami family to hand him over.

Amato tipped to be Italian PM
ROME, April 21 — Italy’s Centre-Left coalition today put forward Treasury Minister Giuliano Amato to form the country’s 58th government since world war II.

Taiwan keen on reunification?
BEIJING, April 21 — China has said that it will not renounce the use of force to retake Taiwan even as the island nation today showed interest in reunification saying forming a federation could be one possible way the two sides can reunite, media reports said.

Japan’s offer on Indo-Pak talks
ISLAMABAD, April 21 — Japan has offered help for resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan to resolve their differences including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir for establishing peace in South Asia.


Pope John Paul II kisses the foot of an unidentified clergyman during the Holy Thursday Mass in St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on Thursday. The rite evokes Jesus washing of the apostles’ feet the day before his crucifixion, and is maintained by the Church as a symbol of humility
Pope John Paul II kisses the foot of an unidentified clergyman during the Holy Thursday Mass in St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on Thursday. The rite evokes Jesus washing of the apostles’ feet the day before his crucifixion, and is maintained by the Church as a symbol of humility. — PTI photo

EARLIER STORIES
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Sea-borne letter travels 2000 km to Lanka
KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 — A bottle with a message from a 12-year-old Malaysian boy thrown into the sea last Christmas washed up 2,000 kilometres away in Sri Lanka, a news report said.

Army officer given charge of Jaffna
COLOMBO, April 21 — Amid reports that the Sri Lankan army is facing a serious debacle in the ongoing war in northern Jaffna, President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who is abroad for medical treatment, has deputed a senior army officer to take charge of security forces in the peninsula.
Top




 

No let-up in stir against Whites
Regional African summit opens in Zimbabwe

HARARE, April 21 (Reuters) — Mobs of independence war veterans kept up their campaign of violence against white-owned farms in Zimbabwe overnight as regional leaders prepared to hold talks on the country’s escalating crisis.

Sources in the besieged farming community said pro-government forces went around Marondera and Wedza areas east of Harare, harassing and intimidating farm workers.

They reported a similar campaign around Arcturus, 35 km north of the capital Harare, where two farm compounds were reported to have been burnt on Thursday. Farm workers from the area were said to have fled to the bush.

Hundreds of white-owned farms have been occupied by self-styled veterans of Zimbabwe’s liberation war, obstructing crop production and further devastating the economy as well as plunging the country into a deep political crisis.

At Nyamapanda, in the north-east, a farming source said hundreds of civil servants had been hounded out of the area after they were accused of supporting the opposition.

The violence has continued despite a call on Thursday by War Veterans Association leader Chenjerai Hunzvi for the cessation of hostilities. He said the occupations would continue without hampering the work of the farmers.

At Victoria Falls, Namibian President Sam Nujoma arrived for a summit meeting on Zimbabwe’s crisis and the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo with Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki and Mozambique’s Joaquim Chissano.

"Zimbabwe is a sovereign state and the Zimbabweans have the capacity to deal with their internal problems and we are supporting them,’’ Mr Nujoma said.

Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which poses the biggest challenge to Mr Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF in parliamentary elections due in May, called on the presidents to put pressure on Mr Mugabe to resolve the crisis.

MARONDERA: The leader of Zimbabwe’s war veterans, Chenjerai Hunzvi, has told representatives of the country’s white farmers that President Robert Mugabe was guaranteeing their security.

"Security has been guaranteed by the President, "Mr Hunzvi said in response to questioning by one of the farmers in this region southeast of Harare, where many farms have been illegally occupied by war veterans, causing white landowners to flee. Top

 

PML, GDA mend fences

LAHORE, April 21 (PTI) — After joining hands with Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party to fight for democracy, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) has now reached an understanding with the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) to end their mutual confrontation.

During their first formal meeting yesterday at Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan’s residence here, both PML and GDA said lacunae in the election system had been the major source of friction among the rival political forces.

The meeting in which deposed Premier Nawaz Sharif’s PML was represented by Senior Vice President Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri and its allies Jamiat-e-Ahle Hadith and Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Pakistan by Allama Sajid Mir and Sahibzada Fazl Karim respectively, took strong exception to the impression created by certain quarters that people are fed up with political parties saying it was rather the price hike, unemployment and lawlessness, which had detached people from the political process.

The common point between the two sides is that they want restoration of democracy, Mr Nasrullah told newsmen.

"The need of the hour is to remove confusion rather than increasing it by one means or the other," he said.

The two sides agreed on the need for an independent Election Commission and accountability commissions, the points part of GDA’s nine-point agenda when it launched a movement against the Sharif Government.

Meanwhile, the PML has said the military junta should respond to the call of Jamaat-e-Islami for exposing the "black sheep" in the military establishment which had brought a bad name to the army.

A party spokesman, said the junta has so far only tightened the screws on politicians and serving and former-bureaucrats under "across the board" accountability.Top

 

Iranians protest against reformists

TEHRAN, April 21 (AFP) — Thousands of Iranians demonstrated here today to denounce reformist politicians, including allies of President Mohammad Khatami, accused of making anti-Islamic statements at a recent conference in Germany.

Demonstrators gathered after weekly prayers at Tehran university following calls from the Revolutionary Guards, a pillar of the Islamic regime, to show support for the supreme leader, or Guide, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"Bad luck for the enemy if the Guide orders us into jihad," protesters cried, while others chanted slogans calling for the resignation of "incompetent" ministers.

The latter was a reference to pro-reform Culture Minister Ataollah Mohajerani, a frequent target of conservative wrath for his alleged "laxity" regarding the increasingly critical and vocal pro-reform Press.

The guards called yesterday for demonstrations to show "hatred and repugnance" at "the blows dealt to Islam and the people" at a conference in Berlin earlier this month attended by several Khatami aides and allies.

State radio said yesterday that several reformists had been summoned to appear before Tehran’s revolutionary court for allegedly making anti-Islamic remarks at the conference.Top

 

Reunite Elian with father: Clinton

WASHINGTON, April 21 (AFP, Reuters) — As the painful standoff over Cuban castaway Elian Gonzalez stretched on, the US President, Mr Bill Clinton, demanded on Thursday that the boy be returned to his father, but refused to say what action he might take to force the Miami family to hand him over.

"I think he should be reunited with his father. That is the law and the main argument of the family in Miami for not doing so has now been removed."

Mr Clinton told newsmen after a court ruled on Wednesday that Elian must stay in the USA until the legal custody battle over him plays out.

"Their argument was ‘if we let him go back to his father before the court rules, he might go back to Cuba," Mr Clinton said.

"The court has now said he shouldn’t go back to Cuba and the Justice Department agrees with that and he has agreed with that, so there is no conceivable argument for his not being reunited with his father," Mr Clinton said.

The Miami relatives have been caring for the boy since he was rescued from the sea in November, when his mother drowned trying to bring him to US shores. They have refused to hand him over to his father, Juan Miguel Gonzales, who is in Washington.

Mr Clinton also pointed out that the lower "court affirmed the father should have custody." But Mr Clinton said he would not say what steps his administration might take to force a handover, as the family waits for a May 11 hearing on Elian’s asylum status.

Meanwhile, the father of Elian has appealed to the American people to help get his son back from family members the boy has been living with for the past five months.

John Miguel Bonzalez yesterday accused his relatives in Miami, who want to stop Elian from returning to communist-led Cuba, of abusing the child by keeping him away from his father.

"It pains me to see what they are doing with my son and the abuse they are committing," he said.Top

 

Amato tipped to be Italian PM

ROME, April 21 (Reuters) — Italy’s Centre-Left coalition today put forward Treasury Minister Giuliano Amato to form the country’s 58th government since world war II.

President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, mediating in a crisis caused by Prime Minister Massimo D’Alema’s resignation, was wrapping up two days of consultations with political leaders.

State television said former Premier Amato (61) would be summoned later to be asked to form a government.

A senior figure in the Centre-Left bloc, speaking after talks with Mr Ciampi, said early elections could be avoided.

"The Centre-Left is in a position to create a political and parliamentary majority for a government to last until the end of the legislature (in April 2001),’’ Mr Fabio Mussi, leader of the Democrats of the Left (DS), told reporters.

Asked whether Mr Amato, a lawyer, could win enough support in parliament for a new government, Mr Mussi said: "abundantly".

The Head of State must decide whether to ask Mr Amato to try to form a new government or whether to heed the Centre-Right opposition’s calls for snap elections, possibly on June 18.

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, now in Opposition, has been encouraged by his bloc’s strong showing in local polls over the weekend that prompted Mr D’Alema’s resignation.

The President is believed to want to avoid at all costs dissolving parliament for the fourth time in eight years. Such a move would prevent a May 21 referendum on electoral reform.

Mr Berlusconi, who says the Centre-Right together with the Northern League party have 60 per cent support according to a new opinion poll, has vowed a bitter parliamentary fight.

Mr Amato himself was upbeat. "to say that I am happy might be too much. It is an important responsibility...I admit I am optimistic,’’ he told reporters in New York late on Thursday. He arrived back in Italy on Friday morning.Top

 

Taiwan keen on reunification?

BEIJING, April 21 (PTI) — China has said that it will not renounce the use of force to retake Taiwan even as the island nation today showed interest in reunification saying forming a federation could be one possible way the two sides can reunite, media reports said.

The Chinese Government’s principled policy in resolving the Taiwan issue — peaceful reunification and one country, two systems — has remained unchanged, and it has not ruled out the possibility of using force, Chief of Staff of the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) General Fu Quanyou was quoted as saying yesterday by a media report today.

"The PLA has confidence, determination and ability to safeguard state sovereignty and territorial integrity. Any attempt to split motherland is doomed to failure," General Fu said during a meeting here with visiting Chief Commander of the Australian Defence Forces, Christopher Barrie.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s President-elect Chen Shui-Bian during a courtesy call to Sun Yun-Suan, a senior Adviser to retiring President Lee Teng-Hui who steps down on May 20, today agreed to Sun’s suggestion that possible way for Taiwan and China to reunify would be to form a federation, media said.

Marking a deviation from his earlier stand of Taiwan’s independence, Chen said, "A confederation system is a breakthrough option. There is a plenty of room for discussion — whether it is feasible or whether a consensus can be reached by the people here." Top

 

Japan’s offer on Indo-Pak talks

ISLAMABAD, April 21 (PTI) — Japan has offered help for resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan to resolve their differences including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir for establishing peace in South Asia.

"Tokyo offers venue for the resumption of Pakistan-India talks to address their differences including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir," Japanese envoy Sadaaki Numata told NNI news agency here.

The envoy said that Pakistan and India should also sign Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) "while sharing the Japanese perception of living in nuclear proliferation free environment."

He said that Japan was consistently engaged for the resumption of Pakistan-India talks process. "Tokyo believes that settlement of differences between these two important South Asian countries would not only guarantee peace in the region but would also serve in addressing the other vital issues including poverty reduction, combating terrorism throughout the world."

Referring to the recent visit of Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Kato Ryozo to South Asia, Mr Numata said "he (the minister) discussed with Pakistan’s military ruler General Pervaiz Musharraf ways and means to resume talks with India."

The envoy said the US President Bill Clinton during his recent visit to South Asia had also stressed on both India and Pakistan to create conducive environment and to resume talks to address the differences between the two countries.Top

 

Sea-borne letter travels 2000 km to Lanka

KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 (DPA) — A bottle with a message from a 12-year-old Malaysian boy thrown into the sea last Christmas washed up 2,000 kilometres away in Sri Lanka, a news report said.

S. Dineshwaran was elated when he recently received a letter from Mr G. Manivanan, who had found the bottle while fishing at Sri Lanka’s Point Pedro off Katkovalam district.

In his letter, Manivanan included the schoolboy’s original letter, which had asked the finder of the bottle to write to him, the New Straits Times daily said.

"Nobody expected the message to get as far as Sri Lanka," said the boy’s surprised father, Mr C.Sugumaran, adding he hoped to take Dineshwaran to meet Mr Manivanan someday.

The family had visited Malaysia’s northern Langkawi resort island during the Christmas holidays where Dineshwaran decided to toss the bottle with a message into the sea.

Last year, a Malaysian man in northeastern Terengganu state found a bottle with a message from a Japanese schoolboy that had been thrown into the sea from Tanegashima island 10 years before.

The Japanese boy, now 16 years old, was later invited to Malaysia as a guest of the Malaysian man.Top

 

Army officer given charge of Jaffna

COLOMBO, April 21 (UNI) — Amid reports that the Sri Lankan army is facing a serious debacle in the ongoing war in northern Jaffna, President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who is abroad for medical treatment, has deputed a senior army officer to take charge of security forces in the peninsula.

Deputy Chief of Staff Janak Perera flew to Jaffna yesterday to replan strategies following reports of heavy casualties among security forces.Top

 
WORLD BRIEFS

Dinosaur heart fossil found
WASHINGTON: Palaeontologists have unearthed a 66-million-year old heart that once beat within the breast of a thescelosaurus, a small herbivorous dinosaur — the first dinosaur heart to be found. The fossilised heart is being studied by means of computer-directed tomography — an x-ray technique for internal structures obscured by overlaying material. The results are published in the magazine Science on Friday. — DPA

Seven killed as bus falls off bridge
SAO PAULO, Brazil: A bus careened off a bridge on Friday, killing seven persons and injuring 19, media reported. A blown tyre may have caused the driver to lose control of the bus, which fell nearly 20 feet from a bridge, CBN radio reported. The accident happened near Ribeirao Preto, 320 km northwest of Sao Paulo. — AP

6 Muslim rebels killed by police
ZAMBOANGA CITY (Philippines): At least six Muslim extremist rebels and two pro-government militiamen were killed on Friday in a clash in a remote southern Philippine village, the police said. The skirmish erupted when Abu Sayyaf guerrillas attacked patrol troops in the village of Samak, Sulu province, 1,000 km south of Manila, said provincial police chief Candido Casimiro. The extremists were also holding captive 27 persons in the nearby province of Basilan. — DPA

Danish PM firm on meeting Dalai Lama
COPENHAGEN: Danish Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen on Thursday said he would not cancel his meeting with the Dalai Lama on May 21 despite threats from China. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman earlier warned that Rasmussen’s scheduled meeting with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader at Copenhagen would damage Sino-Danish relations. — AFP

Controversial ad withdrawn
LOS ANGELES: The Los Angeles Times has agreed to withdraw a controversial advertisement for itself that depicts Muslim women in Islamic attire next to bikini-clad women on a California beach, it was announced. The advertisement had drawn protests from Muslims. — Reuters

UAE reopens mission in Baghdad
DUBAI: The UAE has reopened its mission in Baghdad, which had been lying closed since Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. According to UAE news agency WAM, the country’s Charge D’Affaires Mr Ahmed Abdullah Saeed, hoisted the UAE flag at the embassy’s new premises at a simple ceremony on Thursday. — UNI

Colombia priest bans mini skirts
BOGOTA: A Roman Catholic priest has banned women in mini skirts from attending mass over Easter at his parish church in a sweltering port city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. "It’s unseemly and it shows a lack of respect," said Ener Glotario, priest at the Holy Trinity Church in Barranquilla, where temperatures regularly soar above 35C. — Reuters

Experts say Chinese is 4,800 years old
BEIJING: Pushing back the history of their language by 2,000 years, Chinese archeologists have confirmed that inscriptions on a 4,800-year-old piece of pottery are the earliest form of Chinese writing ever discovered, state media said. The inscriptions were found on pottery wine vessels unearthed in Juxian, a country in east China’s Shandong province once inhabited by the Taihao, a tribe that worshipped gods of wine and land, official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday. — AP

Six hurt in school stabbing
OTTAWA: Six persons were injured when a Canadian student went on a stabbing rampage in a high school near here, the police said. A 15-year-old boy is in custody and was taken to hospital with unspecified injuries, said police spokesman Sergeant Leo Jandeau. He said the other injured victims were four students and an adult administrative worker at the Cairine Wilson Secondary School in Gloucester. — AFPTop

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