|Sunday, June 25, 2000,
Elian may be back in Cuba soon
Russia, China walk out from
Elian may be back in Cuba soon
ATLANTA, June 24 (Reuters) A federal appeals court has said it will not reconsider its decision against granting Cuban castaway Elian Gonzalez a political asylum hearing, delivering what was probably the final blow to efforts by the boys Miami relatives to keep him in the USA.
Elian, caught for seven months in a politicised custody battle waged across the Florida Straits, could be back in Cuba as soon as next Wednesday. The 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday said an injunction blocking Elians father from taking his 6-year-old son home will expire on Wednesday.
The court dismissed the Miami relatives request for a rehearing of their original appeal in the drawn-out saga that turned into a passionate struggle between Cuban exiles in Miami and their nemesis Cuban President Fidel Castro, and provoked a national debate on US policy toward communist Cuba.
The only course now open to the Miami relatives, who said Elian should be allowed to live "in freedom" in the USA rather than grow up in a Communist-ruled country, would be to appeal to the US Supreme Court.
The appeals court reconfirmed its decision that the US Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS), which had ruled in January that only Elians father had the right to speak for the boy, had authority over the case.
The court said in its five-page ruling that nobody could seriously question that the INS decision-making in the Elian case was the "deliberate and official position of the pertinent agencies of the executive branch of our government," adding that such decisions were "still due some deference."
Elian survived a disastrous November 1999 migrant voyage from Cuba in which his mother and 10 other people died. Rescued at sea, he stayed in Miami with his great-uncle Lazaro Gonzalez and second cousin Marisleysis.
But after they defied repeated requests from US authorities to give him back to his father, Cuban tourism worker Juan Miguel Gonzalez, federal agents mounted a dramatic predawn raid on the house on April 22 to seize the boy.
Juan Miguel Gonzalez, Elian and their family have been staying as guests of supporters in the Washington area since the raid, blocked by legal restrictions from returning to Cuba.
In a filing earlier this week, the fathers lawyer, Gregory Craig, urged the judges "to see through Lazaros charade, stop the excruciating delays and allow this family to go home."
Meanwhile, the Miami relatives of Cuban castaway Elian Gonzalez have said they would appeal to the US Supreme Court to grant the boy a political asylum hearing, a move that could delay Elians fathers attempt to take the boy home to communist Cuba.
The announcement came shortly after an Atlanta Appeals court yesterday refused to reconsider its decision supporting US immigration officials finding that only Elians father can speak for the 6-year-old on immigration matters.
Armando Gutierrez, a
spokesman for the Miami relatives who have fought for
seven months to keep the child from returning to Cuba,
said the relatives lawyers would appeal on Monday
to the US Supreme Court to block Elians departure
until it hears the case.
Russia, China walk out from council
UNITED NATIONS, June 24 (Reuters) Russias UN Ambassador walked out of the Security Council today after members refused to allow Yugoslavia to participate in a debate on the Balkans.
"Gagging peoples mouths is not the best way to discuss the acute international problems in this way," Mr Sergei Lavrov said yesterday after the council voted 7 to 4 with four abstentions to bar Belgrades envoy from the meeting.
"To discuss the Balkan problem without Yugoslavia is nonsense," Mr Lavrov said before leaving the chamber and placing a junior diplomat in the Russian seat.
Chinas envoy exited the room a few minutes later during a speech by Mr Javier Solana, the European Unions foreign policy chief, presumably because he headed NATO during its 11-week bombing of Serbia doing the Kosovo crisis last year.
Mr Shen Guofang, however, participated in the debate on the Balkans whereas no Russian diplomat spoke after the controversy over Yugoslavias attendance.
In response, Belgrades representative, Mr Vladislav Jovanovic, told reporters the seven votes against him were from NATO members and two "extremist" Islamic nations, Bangladesh and Malaysia, thereby giving Belgrade a "moral victory".
US Ambassador Richard Holbrooke led the challenge on grounds that the Yugoslav leadership, including President Slobodan Milosevic, was under indictment by a UN tribunal for alleged crimes committed during last years Kosovo conflict.
"We recommend that the council should state clearly and unequivocally that it rejects the policies of hatred and war espoused by the Belgrade regime, that it does not tolerate abuses of human rights, and fully supports the efforts of the war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia to prosecute all of those who have been indicted," Mr Holbrooke said.
Mr Jovganovic has spoken to the council many times before on Balkan issues, the last being one year ago shortly after the indictments in May, 1999.
Diplomats said he had tried to since then but was prevented in private consultations. One key council envoy said Fridays confrontation was ordered by Mr Milosevic.
Mr Milosevic and four of his top lieutenants were inducted as war criminals by the Hague-based tribunal for crimes against humanity, including murder, during the Kosovo conflict.
Malaysia offers $ 3m
JOLO (PHILIPPINES), June 24 (DPA) Malaysia has offered $ 3 million as the price for the release of nine of its nationals among 21 hostages held by Islamic extremists for the past two months in a southern Philippine jungle, a rebel source said today.
Emissaries for the Malaysian Government have been working on a deal with Abu Sayyaf extremists since Manila suspended talks aimed at ending the stand-off two weeks ago, said the source, who requested anonymity.
"The Malaysian Government has raised the amount from $ 2.5 million to $ 3 million being the final and last offer," the source said. "Emissaries have been told to expedite the transaction for the possible release of the Malaysian hostages."
The extremists are also holding captive three Germans, two French nationals, two Finns, a South African couple, a Lebanese woman and two Filipinos in the jungles of Jolo island, Sulu province, 1,000 km south of Manila.
The hostages were kidnapped from the Malaysian diving island resort of Sipadan on April 23 and were brought to Jolo by boat.
The source said the
emissaries were now trying to persuade Abu Sayyaf rebels
to release at least one of the Malaysian hostages
"as a symbol of acceptance of the proposed
conditions offered by the Malaysian Government and also
India victim of
Pak exported terrorism
WASHINGTON, June 24 U.S. Congressman Frank Pallone has reacted angrily to a virulently anti-India letter being circulated in the House of Representatives, saying the missive makes "outrageous and false charges" against New Delhi.
The letter, signed by 20 lawmakers who comprise the usual coterie of regular India-bashers on the urging of the separatist Council of Khalistan and the Pak-PAC (Pakistan Political Action Committee), renews the charge that the March 20 massacre of Kashmiri Sikh villagers was carried out by Indias Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and security forces. It calls on President Bill Clinton to declare India a terrorist nation and to stop all aid to New Delhi.
Pallone, the co-founder of the Congressional Caucus on India, took to the floor of the House to say, "It is with a sense of disappointment and concern that I rise to respond to a misguided initiative that some of my colleagues in the House are involved with."
"Several members of Congress have attached their names to a letter to President Clinton that makes some outrageous and false charges about recent events in India. I believe these claims cannot go unchallenged," he said. "The only way to respond to such claims is with the facts. The truth is that India is the victim of Pakistani-exported terrorism."
The lawmaker, who has introduced legislation calling for Pakistan to be declared a state sponsor of international terrorism, said, "In terms of addressing abuses by security forces, India has acted in an honest and effective way that makes it a model among the nations of Asia and throughout the developing world."
"I truly regret that my colleagues, many of whom I admire, have bought into these claims and have lent their good names to this type of campaign," Pallone said.
Pallone, who was part of the Clinton entourage that visited India in March, acknowledged, "This tragic and shocking massacre did cast a shadow over the trip. It left a deep sense of sadness among all of us in the American delegation and among all the people of India that we encountered. President Clinton condemned the attack in the strongest terms."
He pointed out that less than a week after the attack, Indian investigating agencies in Jammu and Kashmir made an arrest in the case, apprehending one Yakub Wagey, a terrorist belonging to the Hizb-ul Mujahideen. He noted that Wagey, a resident of Chittisinghpora, revealed that the massacre was the work of a group of 16 to 17 terrorists, including six extremists of the Hizb-ul Mujahideen and 11 to 12 mercenaries owing allegiance to the Lashkar-e-Toiba. "Both these terrorist organisations are on the long list of terrorist organisation that receive support from Pakistan," Pallone said.
Pallone argued, "Its no coincidence that this massacre took place during President Clintons visit to South Asia. I believe that these terrorist groups, and their supporters in Pakistan, wanted an incident that would draw attention to the Kashmir issue."
"Pakistan has been seeking to internationalise this conflict for years. What better time to perpetuate a high-profile atrocity like this than when the president of the USA is in the region, with all of the attendant diplomatic and media attention that such a visit beings with it?" he asked.
"Which makes the claim that India as behind the massacre all the more absurd," Pallone asserted. "At a time when India was before the world stage, what possible motive would there be for such an ugly incident to detract from all of the positive publicity India was seeking to generate? It doesnt make sense."
Pallone said, "One of the motives behind trying to link India to the attack against the Sikh villagers in Kashmir is to try to generate separatist sentiment among Indias Sikh community." He said while the Council of Khalistan was trying to whip up such sentiments, "the democratically-elected Sikh political leaders in Punjab are not buying the claims of Indian government responsibility for the atrocity that took place in Kashmir this past March."
Putin coming to India on Oct 2
MOSCOW, June 24 (IANS) Ending speculation about the dates of the his visit to New Delhi, Russian President Vladimir Putin himself declared that he would be in India from October 2 to 4.
Mr Putin made the confirmation during his meeting in Kremlin with Indian External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, who is here on a three-day official visit.
"Intensive dialogue in the international arena, interaction in the military and technical spheres and economic cooperation constitute the backbone of our relations with India," Mr Putin said, adding that "the time has come for my meeting with the Indian Prime Minister (Atal Behari Vajpayee) and discussing the entire gamut of questions concerning our relations with that country."
Mr Putin said there was a possibility that he might extend his India visit by a day, as requested. He, however, did not reveal who had made the request. Indian embassy officials and Russian diplomats were also reluctant to reveal where the request had come from.
Mr Putins visit to
India would be the first in seven years by a Russian
President, making it a landmark in bilateral ties. Former
President Boris Yeltsins visit to India was put off
four times owing to his failing health.
Indian soldiers shifted
UNITED NATIONS, June 24 (PTI) Twenty Indian peacekeepers detained by Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels at Pendembu in Sierra Leone have been shifted to a Red Cross compound in the town, the UN has said.
No other details were available and it was not clear whether the shifting of the peacekeepers to a new location was a prelude to their release.
President of Liberia Charles Taylor had been trying to secure the release of the Indians.
However, there is no change in the situation of 222 other Indian peacekeepers and 11 military observers surrounded by the RUF in Kailahun in the eastern part of the country.
Jackson sued for $ 20m
3 Indians jailed
on robbery charge
groups plea to Vatican
for India, Pak
hit earth: study
luxurious yacht sold
win him brides hand
4 killed filming
fund organ transplant
Rights bill for
members penalty wish granted
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