|Saturday, July 29, 2000,
talks with North Korea ‘must go on’
releases 86 Irish rebels
2 engines had ‘broken down’
Senate passes sex trafficking Bill
erupts in Afghanistan
meets N. Korean FM
BANGKOK, July 28 (DPA) — U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called her first meeting with North Korea’s Foreign Minister Paek Nam-sun "historic’’, but said she had limited expectations of a quick turn-around in the two countries’ troubled relations.
Ms Albright said her meeting with Mr Paek today, which went on nearly an hour longer than scheduled, was an opportunity to get acquainted and was historic as "the first bilateral meeting at the ministerial level ever held between our two countries.’’
The US Secretary of State said she was encouraged by North Korea’s recent efforts to expand diplomatic contacts and by its moratorium on long-range missile launches, but added, "we need to make sure that the missile talks continue.’’
"I was direct in stating that American concerns about all aspects of the missile threat, nuclear weapons related activities and the importance of achieving the goals of the agreed framework,’’ she asserted.
They discussed the US offer of space technology in exchange for North Korea halting its missile programme, but Ms Albright said she could not "glean’’ anything about North Korea’s position.
Ms Albright called the meeting a "substantively modest but symbolically a historic step away from the sterility and hostility of the past and toward a more direct and promising approach to resolving differences.
"The USA welcomes the (North Korea’s) decision to participate in the Asean Regional Forum because his country has the potential to contribute in important ways to a more stable Asia-Pacific,’’ she told Mr Paek.
She added she remains realistic in expectations and formally committed to improved relations.
"I made very clear it is very important to get past the 50 years of hostility and that we needed to look toward the future (and) this meeting is I think a step in that direction," she added.
Meanwhile, after their historic presidential talks in mid-June, North and South Korea were preparing today to continue their dialogue at ministerial-level talks over the weekend in Seoul.
Economic cooperation, infrastructure aid to North Korea and sporting and cultural exchanges were to be the main subjects, according to the South Korean Foreign Ministry.
The North Korean delegation led by Mr Jon Kum-jin, who represented Pyongyang in previous meetings at the Deputy Ministers’ level, was arriving via Beijing for the three-day talks opening tomorrow or on Sunday.
At their Pyongyang summit in mid-June, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and South Korean President Kim Dae-jung signed an agreement on confidence-building measures and reunification steps. This included inter-governmental talks and a visit to Seoul by Kim Jong-il. The two Koreas still have to sign a peace treaty following the 1950-53 Korean war.
AFP adds: The USA and South Korea agreed today that a North Korean offer of giving up its missile programme in return for access to space-rocket technology was "worth pursuing" a senior US official said.
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and her South Korean counterpart, Lee Joung-binn, reached this conclusion during talks here.
However, the official stressed that a decision on whether to engage Pyongyang in the offer was contingent on the full clarification of the idea conveyed to the international community earlier this month by Russian President Vladimir Putin after a visit to North Korea.
Ms Albright and Mr Lee "discussed what North Korea and Russia talked about", the official said.
THE rise of Mrs Kulsoom Nawaz, wife of jailed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, as the top leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) has led to cracks not only in the party but also in the family that controlled the reigns of power till last October. This inference can be drawn from the recent statement of Mr Shahbaz Sharif, former Chief Minister of Punjab and brother of the deposed Head of Government, that Mr Nawaz Sharif should not hold any public office in a future democratic set-up in his country.
Pakistani newspapers say that Mr Shahbaz Sharif has written an extensive letter to his elder brother outlining his impressions of the functioning of the Gen Pervez Musharraf-led military regime and the strategy that should be adopted by his party under the circumstances. There is no mention of the role Mrs Kulsoom Nawaz has been playing. What is more significant is that this highly controversial letter has been drafted after studying the views of Raja Zafarul Haq in the wake of the latter's meeting with the military ruler. It must be noted here that Mr Haq is the favoured leader of the PML (N) dissidents who are working overtime to sideline Mrs Kulsoom Nawaz.
Mr Shahbaz Sharif's suggested strategy is that the PML (N) should constitute a committee of party leaders to initiate talks with the Chief Executive with a view to ending the "persecution" of political leaders and forcing the government to take measures for the restoration of democracy. But, in his opinion, it must be declared at the very outset that the convicted Prime Minister will have no significant role to play when democracy is put back on the rails.
The dismissed Punjab Chief Minister's line of thinking has given birth to the suspicion that the ruling General has formulated a plan to weaken the position of Mrs Kulsoom Nawaz by using her brother-in-law. This is understandable from Mr Shahbaz Sharif's declared belief that the Chief Executive has no intention to weaken the PML (N) by engineering a split in the party.
Clipping the wings of Mrs Kulsoom Nawaz suits both Mr Shahbaz Sharif and General Musharraf. She has emerged as the latest threat to both. Her fast growing popularity among the masses shows that in any future election she may easily lead her party to victory. This situation will not only deprive Mr Shahbaz Sharif of an opportunity to emerge as a Prime Ministerial candidate in future but also create serious problems for the ruling General when he relinquishes power. Hence the possibility of an undeclared understanding between the two to create hurdles in the way of Mrs Kulsoom Nawaz.
She is, however, no longer the simple, home-loving woman she was when her husband was guiding the destiny of Pakistan. She has blossomed into an astute politician who understands the moves of her adversaries. She has hit hard at her scheming brother-in-law saying, "Shahbaz should give this advice (of reconciliation) to Pervez Musharraf, who is his friend, or to the people whom he met." Mrs Kulsoom Nawaz asserts that it is the present regime, not the PML (N) leadership, which has been pursuing a confrontationist policy. Her confidence stems from her conviction that she "has the backing of 140 million people" of Pakistan.
Mr Shahbaz Sharif's conciliatory approach does not end with the formation of the committee he has suggested. A report in The Nation says: "Mian Shahbaz does not see any harm if the PML (N) leadership admits the mistakes it had committed in the past. But he thinks that it needs to be emphasised that 'our intentions were honest and whatever policies we framed, our government continued to watch the interests of Pakistan and the Muslim League'."
Despite his soft line vis-a-vis the Musharraf regime, Mr Shahbaz Sharif does not approve of the Accountability Bureau's activities, as he believes that the prevailing Ehtesaab system is "partisan and draconian", aimed at disenfranchising politicians. He favours the setting up of an independent accountability commission to be headed by a Supreme Court judge. But his views on subjects like the Ehtesaab factor cannot dispel the suspicion of Mrs Kulsoom Nawaz and the other members of the Sharif family sympathising with the jailed Prime Minister that the former Punjab Chief Minister has entered into a deal with General Musharraf. Perhaps, the wily General is depending on the famous dictum: divide and rule.
Lahore HC rejects Sharif’s plea
ISLAMABAD, July 28 (UNI) — A full Bench of the Lahore High Court yesterday rejected a writ filed on behalf of the deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif challenging his conviction by the accountability court in the Attock Fort.
Mr Sharif’s lawyer Aitazaz Ahsan, a prominent Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader had challenged that any court which does not function as an open court can not be called a court. Such courts including the one in Attock Fort, do not enjoy any lawful authority, he said.
Mr Ahsan said the Chairman of the Accountability Bureau did not apply his wisdom to hold Mr Sharif’s trial in Attock Fort.
He demanded that the deposed Prime Minister be released on bail and the trial be held in a free atmosphere.
Rejecting the petition, the court headed by the Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court said according to the accountability law, the government can set up the accountability courts at any place.
UK releases 86 Irish rebels
BELFAST, July 28 (Reuters) — Britain released the first batch of 86 jailed republican and loyalist guerrillas whom it says will be set free on Friday under northern Ireland’s landmark Good Friday peace accord.
An unidentified prisoner, believed to be a pro-British loyalist, stepped from the high-walled Maze-top security prison, 10 miles south of Belfast, was warmly greeted by his friends in the crowded visitors’ car park.
Britain says it will free 78 prisoners from the Maze, and eight from other jails, who qualify for early release from long sentences because their groups are operating cease-fires that underpin the province’s fragile peace process.
The releases bring the number of Protestant loyalist and pro-Irish Roman-Catholic Republicans freed under the 1998 accord to 428. The Maze — which gained notoriety as western Europe’s biggest guerrilla jail — would now be left with around 16 inmates and would be closed by the end of the year, officials said.
Concorde’s 2 engines had ‘broken down’
PARIS, July 27 (AFP) — The doomed Air France Concorde had problems with its two port-side engines and a landing gear malfunction as it took off from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport, the French Accident Investigation Bureau (BEA) revealed today.
Citing information gleaned from the supersonic jet’s two black boxes, the BEA confirmed that the pilot signalled a breakdown in the interior engine on the left wing, engine number two, just before the disastrous crash on Tuesday.
But it said that one of the black boxes, the flight data recorder, showed that the outer engine on the same wing, engine number one, had also lost power twice in the moments before the plane swerved to the left and crashed.
The other black box, the cockpit voice recorder, indicated that the crew also told the control tower that the undercarriage would not retract, a BEA said.
Remains of tyres had been found on the runway, it added.
"During the take-off, when the aircraft had passed the point where it could no longer abort, the control-tower signalled to the crew that there were flames at the rear of the plane," BEA said.
Meanwhile, a French prosecutor promised a swift probe to decide whether to lay criminal charges in connection with the Air France Concorde jetliner crash that killed 113 persons, even as new reports of a series of mechanical failures continued to trickle in.
Mr Xavier Salvat, prosecutor for the Val d’Oise region where the luxury supersonic jet went down in flames on Tuesday, said he had appointed three investigative magistrates, instead of just one, because the investigation was likely to be complex and witnesses could be called to give testimony.
Mr Salvat said the probe would decide as to who, if anyone, should be charged with involuntary homicide and involuntary injury.
The first of these offences is defined as a "negligent killing" and is punishable with up to three years’ imprisonment.
"We want to act in such a way that the proceedings determine the cause of the accident quickly and provide information to the families of the victims," he said. He gave no time frame for completing the probe, but said it could go on for months.
Mr Salvat also declined to
disclose what his team had learned since the investigation began on
Wednesday, a day after the Air France Flight 4590 caught fire while
taking off from Charles de Gaulle Airport and crashed two minutes
later into a small hotel in Gonesse, a town just outside Paris.
Fighting erupts in Afghanistan
PESHAWAR (Pakistan), July 28 (DPA) — Fierce fighting erupted between the ruling Taliban faction and its opponents today in the northern Afghanistan province of Baghlan, the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) agency reported.
The AIP said the fighting followed the arrest of the local commander, Mohammad Bashir Baghlani, by the Taliban three days ago.
It quoted unidentified sources as saying that the Taliban started the fighting by launching attacks on the forces of the northern alliance led by Ahmad Shah Masood in the Nehreen area of the province.
Before the ground attacks, the Taliban bombed the area, it said.
Four Taliban soldiers where killed and eight wounded in early fighting. The casualties on the other side were not known.
Baghlani was an ally of the Taliban and was arrested on the charge of conspiring with Ahmed Shah Masood.
‘Star’ websites fail to attract Net surfers
IF the words ‘Britney Spears’ and ‘Internet entrepreneur’ ring hollow when heard in the same sentence, how about inserting the names of Cindy Crawford instead, or Michael Jackson or Melanie Griffith?
The names of some of the world’s biggest stars may not tumble naturally from the lips when discussing the future of the Internet industry, but pop superstars and Hollywood celebrities alike are queuing to launch dotcom firms, and are no longer content to hover on the sidelines spouting consumer-friendly endorsements.
Danny DeVito, Peta Wilson and Stephen Baldwin were spotted at the Digital Coast Executives’ dinner last week, a forum where Internet bigwigs hobnob with Hollywood types to discuss the industry.
They are just the beginning: the value of dotcom companies may be falling through the floor, but that hasn’t stopped Crawford launching her ‘‘babystyle.com’’, or Spears dipping her toe in the ether with ‘‘sweet16.com.’’ Joanna Lumley recently teamed up with Tiny Rowland’s son, Toby, to launch ‘‘clickmango.com’’ and Courtney Love maintains her own site, ‘‘holemusic.com’’, where she chats with fans and posts ad hoc photos of herself and her friends.
But the curious thing is that these sites receive so little attention. In an age where a single grainy picture of Posh and Becks at their banal best can boost a newspaper’s circulation by hundreds of thousands and generate an avalanche of gossip, why have so few of us heard of Griffith’s ‘‘OneWorldLive’’ or Jackson’s ‘‘HollywoodTickets’’?
Rob Fried, a film industry veteran and chief executive officer of ‘‘whatshotnow.com’’, believes Hollywood has missed the point of the Internet and, as a result, that these fledgling businesses will flop.
‘‘Hollywood is generally a closed environment that has a set way of entertaining’’, he said. ‘‘The net, however, is interactive, and interactivity is utterly different from what Hollywood is used to’’.
Crawford’s site advising fans on the most flattering trousers to wear during pregnancy remains stubbornly unvisited. The sites raking in the ratings are those set up by individuals willing to let the public into their ordinary lives.
Jennicam, the widely visited ‘‘homecam’’ site, has presented visitors with a live, unedited footage of the life of 24-year-old Jennifer Ringley for the last two years. It receives more than 100 million hits a week and has spawned a generation of imitators whose success is echoed in British TV’s Big Brother programme.
US Senate passes sex trafficking Bill
WASHINGTON, July 28 (Reuters) — The US Senate has passed legislation aimed at combating the growing and lucrative trade in women and girls, who are sold into virtual slavery for sexual exploitation.
The Bipartisan Bill, which passed unanimously in the Senate, was designed to help Law Enforcement officials crack down on sex trafficking, which is believed to involve hundreds of thousands of women worldwide each year.
NEW YORK, July 28 (Reuters) — An unidentified armed man, who took control of a National Airlines passenger jet last night at Kennedy International Airport, surrendered early this morning after all passengers escaped and the pilot and co-pilot were released, according to the authorities.
The gunman was escorted from the plane by FBI agents, the CNN reported.
Sting loses Net case
Pitt, Jennifer to
wed this weekend
Tsar on way
rare lung condition found
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