|Thursday, April 27, 2000,
ABM treaty intact: Ivanov
N. Korea draw flak at NPT meeting
airline chief shot dead
Americans approve raid
Keep ABM treaty intact: Ivanov
WASHINGTON, April 26 (Reuters) Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov yesterday urged President Bill Clinton to keep intact the 1972 anti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty that Washington wants to change so it can build a national missile defence system.
Our position is our security will be better protected, if the treaty is kept intact, Mr Ivanov told reporters after meeting Mr Clinton for a half hour in the Oval Office.
Mr Ivanov came to Washington to lay the groundwork for Mr Clintons first summit meeting with Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin in Moscow on June 4 and 5.
Mr Clinton expressed interest in Mr Putins plans for economic reforms and steps to deal with crime and corruption and strengthening the rule of law, said Mr Mike Hammer, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council.
He (Clinton) emphasised that it was important for Russia to seize the opportunity to accelerate economic reforms, Mr Hammer said.
Mr Ivanovs comments on the ABM treaty cast doubts on whether there would be a breakthrough anytime on it.
Mr Hammer said the US side would not give up trying to convince Russia that a national missile defence would not represent a threat to the strategic arms balance.
We continue to make our case to Russia on why this system does not in any way pose a threat to Russia but rather is aimed at threats from rogue states and something we believe they will come to understand as we continue to make clear to them what our intentions are in our efforts to preserve the ABM treaty, Mr Hammer said.
There was strong bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress for a national missile defence to shoot down missiles by so-called rogue states like North Korea.
The Clinton Administration has promised to take a decision this summer on whether it should deploy such a system. Russia says it will undermine one of the pillars of an arms control system negotiated over decades.
Mr Ivanov, the first senior official from Moscow to meet Mr Clinton since Mr Putin was elected President on March 26, said Russia was ready to listen to any suggestions Mr Clinton might have to bridge the differences between the two countries on the treaty issue.
In an article published in The New York Times on Monday, Mr Ivanov repeated a warning that Russia would not feel bound by previous arms control obligations if the USA pulled out of the ABM treaty.
Mr Hammer said there was a good, positive tone to the Ivanov-Clinton meeting.
He said Mr Clinton and Mr Ivanov did not discuss their differences over Chechnya, where Russian forces had been engaged in a six-month conflict against rebels in the breakaway region.
Talking to reporters, Mr
Ivanov said he gave Mr Clinton a letter from Mr Putin
saying that he was interested in constructive
relations and dynamic relations in all areas of our
interaction, and wanted a dialogue on security
issues, regional conflicts and bilateral relations,
primarily economic issues.
Israel, N. Korea draw flak at NPT meeting
UNITED NATIONS, April 26 (PTI) In a significant move, the USA, which generally backs Israel, has agreed for the first time to create a subsidiary committee to deal with regional nuclear issues including the West Asia.
The move came after Israel and North Korea came under fire at a conference on nuclear non-proliferation here for their suspected nuclear arsenals with Egypt alleging that the Jewish states secrecy threatened security in the West Asia and the USA denouncing Pyong Yong for limiting the IAEA access to its facilities.
The USA found it indefensible to not discuss Israel when it has India and Pakistan to talk about, said Mr Daniel Plesch, director of the British American Security Information Council, which is monitoring progress of the conference, referring to the nuclear-weapon tests the two South Asian countries conducted in 1998.
It wasnt clear, however, if the USA would back calls by Arab states to single out Israel out in a resolution calling for a nuclear weapon-free zone in the region. At the last review conference in 1995, a resolution adopted made no specific reference of Israel.
We have had some talks on this subject. We have had some elements of understanding but theres still more to be done, said Mr John Holum, a senior U.S. Adviser on Arms Control.
Egypt led the charge
yesterday at a conference reviewing progress and failures
of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, urging delegates
to single out Israel for its failure to commit to the
treaty the only country in the region that
hasnt done so.
Yugoslav airline chief shot dead
BELGRADE, April 26 (AFP) The head of Yugoslav national airline JAT, Mr Zivorad Petrovic, was shot dead here, in what the police called a terrorist act.
Mr Petrovic was shot in the head in front of his Central Belgrade home last night at 9.30 pm, said a source at the Centre Clinic where he was declared dead.
The private television station, Studio, B said two aggressors had been seen fleeing on foot from the scene.
It was undoubtedly a terrorist act committed against a senior economic official of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, said a statement by the Belgrade Police Information Service published by the official Tanjug news agency.
Mr Petrovic, born in 1939 at Pozarevac in eastern Serbia, also hometown to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, was a transport engineer who had made his career at JAT of which he had been Director-General for several years.
It was the fourth assassination of a leading public figure in Belgrade since the beginning of the year.
On January 15 Mr Zeljko Raznatovic, the best-known Serbian militia chief known as Arkan, wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for ex-Yugoslavia, was gunned down in a hotel lobby. On February 7, Yugoslav Defence Minister Pavle Bulatovic was slain in a restaurant. And on March 20, a former Serbian militia chief, Branislav Lainovic, known as Dugi, was killed near a hotel.
TV Politika, which is
close to Mr Milosevic regime, said Mr Petrovic had been
shot probably with an automatic weapon of the
Skorpion type as he got out of his car and police
had found several cartridge cases at the
Most Americans approve raid
WASHINGTON, April 26 (Reuters) Senate Republicans grilled Attorney-General Janet Reno on the use of force during the seizure of Cuban boy Elian Gonzalez from his Miami relatives and called for a hearing to examine the operation.
But opinion poll showed most Americans approved of Saturdays night-time raid and the return of the six-year-old boy to his father, and political analysts questioned whether Republicans would gain from making it a political cause.
Elian, his father Juan Miguel Gonzalez and his stepmother and baby brother were taken from Andrews Air Force base outside Washington where they have been together since the raid and took them to an as-yet undisclosed site.
CNN reported they were being put up at a private home near the Chesapeake Bay about an hours drive from the Capital, but this could not be confirmed.
Elians Miami relatives had defied the Justice Department in not turning over the boy, triggering an international custody battle pitting Communist Cuba against the volatile Cuban American community in Miami. The relatives had cared for him since he survived a shipwreck off Florida last November.
Senate majority leader Trent Lott of Mississippi led the Senate delegation of both Republicans and Democrats most of them critical of the governments action during a nearly two-hour closed-door meeting with Ms Reno on Capitol Hill yesterday.
It was described as having a court-room atmosphere with some sharp and pointed exchanges.
Ms Reno, who has said she had no regrets whatsoever about the operation, was accompanied at the meeting by Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder and Immigration and Naturalisation Service Director Doris Meissner.
In the afternoon, Ms Reno and her Justice Department team were given a standing ovation for the operation at a White House event, where they were praised by President Bill Clinton, who appealed for the boy and his father to be given peace.
Now that they have been safely reunited, I believe it is time for all of us, including the media and those of us in public life, to give this family the space it needs to heal its wounds and strengthen its bonds, to work to lessen the pressure on them as the matter goes forward in the courts, he said.
State Department spokesman James Rubin said Juan Miguel Gonzalez has asked the government to expedite visas to bring four of the boys playmates over from Cuba to keep him company in the USA.
A court had ordered that Elian stay in the USA pending an appeal of an asylum application lodged for him by his Miami relatives, which could take weeks or months.
White House spokesman Joe Lockhart earlier blasted Republicans for what he called gratuitous attacks against law enforcement officials for how the raid was handled.
Meanwhile workers stayed home, students skipped school and businesses closed as Cuban-American called a general strike that shut down Little Havana but barely slowed the rest of the city.
The protest on Tuesday
over the Elian Gonzalez case brought honking cars and
Cuban flags to the same streets where fires and violence
broke out on Saturday after armed federal agents grabbed
Elian in a pre-dawn raid.
Israel reinforces border
GHAJAR (Israel), April 26 (AFP) Cranes guarded by Israeli soldiers with automatic rifles dig into the red soil here along the border with Lebanon as part of preparations that Israel is quietly carrying out ahead of its withdrawal from its northern neighbour due in less than three months.
Military officials and workers at the site refuse to say exactly what is being built here and in several other locations visited by AFP along the Lebanese border.
They would only say that
the works were part of efforts to improve Israeli
defences after the pullout from South Lebanon, ending 22
years of bloody occupation that claimed the lives of
hundreds of Israeli soldiers.
Supply ship for Mir launched
MOSCOW, April 26 (AFP) Russia successfully launched a supply cargo ship early today bound for the Mir space station, the flight control centre in Moscow reported.
The supply ship Progress
M1-2 was launched on a Soyuz booster rocket at yesterday
from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and jettisoned the
rocket 10 minutes later, Russian space officials told the
Itar-Tass news agency.
Korea closer to making ICBM
skull on display
that killed Nazis
Stabbed to death
smoking scenes banned
Cat shot dead by
letter bomber jailed
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