Monday, October 22, 2001, Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

Bush, Putin agree to  cut N-arms arsenals
Accord to stop mass-destruction arms output

Shanghai, October 21
U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed “significantly lowering” nuclear arsenals on Sunday and said they had made progress on the fate of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

500 Taliban men ‘defect’ to Alliance
Jabal Saraj (Afghanistan), Oct 21
A spokesman for a leading Afghan opposition commander said on Sunday that about 500 fighters from the ruling Taliban militia had given themselves up near the northern town of Mazar-i-Sharif. The key city has been the focus of fierce fighting between the Northern Alliance opposition and ruling Taliban militia since the US air strikes began two weeks ago.
Northern Alliance's Foreign Minister Dr Abdoulah Abdoulah (R) and Ahmed Massoud, son of late Afghan opposition forces leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, take part in a memorial ceremony on the 40th day of his death in Dushanbe on Sunday. — Reuters photo

He holds the key to peace in Kabul
London, October 21
The peaceful future of Afghanistan depends on the United Nations, and particularly on one man: the UN special representative for Afghanistan, Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi. No one could be better qualified than Mr Brahimi to understand the complexities of that country and to attract the trust of both Westerners
and Muslims.

Anthrax not linked to Al-Qaida: Bush
Washington, October 21
Investigators have found no link between the anthrax attacks in the USA and the Al-Qaida terrorist network of Islamic militant Osama bin Laden, US President George W. Bush has said as the authorities made a third discovery of anthrax at a US Capitol building.


A Palestinian Christian cries over the body of his wife killed in crossfire between Palestinians and Israeli troops in the West bank town of Bethlehem on October 21, 2001. Israel's army held on to positions in and around six Palestinian West Bank cities on Sunday in its broadest offensive in a year of violence, sparking fresh fighting in which two Palestinians were killed. — Reuters

EARLIER STORIES
 

Women supporters of pro-Taliban Islamist Jamiat Ulma Islaami held a demonstration outside the Press Club in Quetta
(28k, 56k)

Musharraf next target, say Taliban
Teheran, October 21
There will be no kamikaze attacks by Al-Qaida terrorist cells against any nation, the security chief of the ruling Afghan Taliban, Qari Ahmadollah, said in an interview published today.

3 Bangladeshis die in crossfire
Dhaka, October 21
Three Bangladeshis were killed near the Indo-Bangla border in north-eastern Sunamganj district after they were caught in a crossfire between paramilitary frontier forces of the two countries, according to press reports received here today.

Manila peace talks ‘suspended’
Kuala Lumpur, October 21
Peace negotiations between the Philippines Government and Muslim rebels were “suspended” at the weekend after hitting a snag, a rebel spokesman said today.
  “We cannot agree on certain points. We will go back for consultation with our principals in the Philippines,” said Murad Ebrahim, Military Affairs Vice- Chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

20 Tigers die in sea battle
Colombo, October 21
Twenty LTTE cadres were either killed or injured and three rebel boats destroyed in gunfire by the Sri Lankan navy off the island’s northern coast today, the Defence Ministry said.

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Bush, Putin agree to cut N-arms arsenals
Accord to stop mass-destruction arms output

Shanghai, October 21
U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed “significantly lowering” nuclear arsenals on Sunday and said they had made progress on the fate of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

The two leaders, meeting after a Pacific Rim summit, also issued a tough statement vowing to cooperate more closely to stop weapons of mass destruction — including biological weapons — being used for terrorism.

Bush praised Putin, saying the Russian leader strongly supported U.S. military operations in Afghanistan following the September 11 hijack attacks on the USA.

Putin, in turn, called Washington’s response “measured and adequate”. That response has included two weeks of military strikes on Afghanistan, its Taliban rulers and their guest Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden, the prime suspects in the attacks.

On arms control, Bush said he gave Putin no concrete figures on missile cuts and repeated his view that the 1972 ABM treaty banning missile defence systems, the bedrock of arms control for three decades, was “outdated and, I believe, dangerous”.

But he added: “Today, we discussed significantly lowering offensive nuclear weapon arsenals, within a framework that includes limited defences, defences that are able to protect both our lands from political blackmail, from potential terrorist attack.”

Putin gave no spirited defence of the ABM treaty as he has in the past simply calling it “an important element” of stability in the world.

“I believe we do have understanding that we can reach agreement taking into account national interests of Russia and the USA and taking into account the necessity to strengthen international stability in this very important area,” the Kremlin chief said.

“We agree we should think about the future, look into the future and discuss possible threats in the future,” he told the news conference. “We are willing to discuss this with our American partner.”

In a joint statement issued by the Kremlin press service in Shanghai, Putin and Bush pledged to increase cooperation to prevent the export and distribution of nuclear, chemical and biological materials.

The two countries pledged to prevent nuclear, biological and chemical weapons being used for terrorism and to stop money funding those involved. They would also cooperate in many fields in the anti-terrorism fight.

“They agreed to increase bilateral and multilateral actions to prevent the export and distribution of nuclear, chemical and biological materials, the technology connected with them and the means for their delivery...,”the US-Russian statement said.

With an anthrax scare sweeping the USA in the wake of the launch of the strikes on Afghanistan, the issue of biological and chemical warfare has been on the minds of many.

Putin and Chinese President Jiang Zemin yesterday reaffirmed their commitment to the ABM treaty, which Bush wants wants to abandon to allow deployment of a hi-tech missile defence system.

Bush has vowed to reduce the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile below the 3,500 warheads for each side set by START-II, which has never been ratified by the U.S. Senate. Putin has proposed a ceiling of 1,500 each. The USA has about 7,000 strategic nuclear warheads while Russia has about 6,000. Some in the US military want to cap the arsenal at around 2,200 to 2,500.

Bush and Putin are set to meet again next month at the U.S. President’s ranch in Crawford, Texas. U.S. officials said Sunday’s session was part of the process “leading to Crawford and beyond”.

The USA or Russia can withdraw from the ABM treaty at six months’ notice, a step Washington is coming under increasing pressure to take because of the timetable of tests for a system costing billions of dollars.

Their statement, which mentioned the need for a broad-based government in Afghanistan, went well beyond an anti-terrorism statement issued earlier by the leaders of the 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum after their Shanghai summit.

“The presidents of the two countries are fully resolved to increase cooperation in the fight against new terrorist threats in the nuclear, chemical and biological fields, as well as in the field of computers,” said the Russian so.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Jiang Zemin has said North Korea would be welcome to take part in the APEC forum if it wanted to.

The communist state is a notable absentee from the 21-member group, created in 1989 to foster free trade and investment.

Speaking at a news conference after APEC’s two-day annual summit, Jiang said South Korean President Kim Dae-jung had raised the issue of Pyongyang’s role in APEC, as he did during last year’s gathering in Brunei.

“If North Korea expresses their desire to take part in APEC-related activities, then we will give them our welcome and support,” Jiang said. Reuters
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500 Taliban men ‘defect’ to Alliance

Jabal Saraj (Afghanistan), Oct 21
A spokesman for a leading Afghan opposition commander said on Sunday that about 500 fighters from the ruling Taliban militia had given themselves up near the northern town of Mazar-i-Sharif.

The key city has been the focus of fierce fighting between the Northern Alliance opposition and ruling Taliban militia since the US air strikes began two weeks ago.

“Yesterday evening about 500 Taliban soldiers, including 10 commanders, surrendered to Gen Ustad Attah,” Attah’s secretary Kodrattullah told Reuters by satellite telephone from his base south of Mazar-i-Sharif.

There was no independent confirmation of the defections, and it was not clear whether the 500 would now swap sides and fight for the opposition, as is often the case in Afghanistan.

Kodrattullah also said there were now 15 Americans with Gen Abdul Rashid Dostum, an Uzbek warlord fighting alongside Attah to recapture Mazar-i-Sharif, which straddles supplies lines towards the capital of Kabul to the south. “They are with General Dostum, but there are also representatives with them from other generals, including Attah.”

Kabul: Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban said today that they had executed five men in the key northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif for spying for the USA.

“Two commanders by the name of Saboor and Yosuf along with their three men were executed for acts of sabotage, provoking people and spying for the Americans,’’ said Abdul Hanan Himat, a Taliban Information Ministry official. Reuters 

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He holds the key to peace in Kabul

London, October 21
The peaceful future of Afghanistan depends on the United Nations, and particularly on one man: the UN special representative for Afghanistan, Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi.

No one could be better qualified than Mr Brahimi to understand the complexities of that country and to attract the trust of both Westerners and Muslims. He is widely respected by diplomats as a master of their art: sophisticated, highly informed and sceptical, without the cynicism that is their professional disease.

Mr Annan has urgently reappointed him, to oversee UN activities in Afghanistan and to make plans for its rehabilitation. And Americans appear more prepared to listen. As the US adviser on peacekeeping, John Hirsch, explains: ‘He represents exactly that kind of conjunction between the West and the developing world that is needed in this crisis.’

He has already swung into action in New York. He has discussed a transitional post-Taliban government in Afghanistan with the Security Council, and will be talking to Washington next week. Last week, he spent a day in London talking to UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Mr Brahimi is expected soon to travel to Central Asia, where he will try to propose a new government in Kabul, perhaps including the ex-King, now in Rome.

Friends have warned Mr Brahimi he is embarking on a mission impossible. He will still have to confront Afghanistan’s powerful neighbours who each have their own agenda, including corrupt Pakistani interests which first armed the Taliban and harboured Osama bin Laden’s terrorists. And he knows better than anyone the limitations of the UN’s power. He warned last week that it must not send a peacekeeping force into Afghanistan until it has a functioning government; and such a force would take at least three months to prepare.

PESHAWAR: The world could face further attacks like the September 11 suicide crashes in the USA if the United Nations does not send peacekeeping troops to pacify Afghanistan soon, said a leading opposition commander.

Mr Haji Mohammad Zeman, a veteran commander who has challenged the ruling Taliban to surrender the eastern city of Jalalabad or face attacks, said the Afghan war could widen to other countries if it is not contained.

Opposition efforts to return exiled former King, Zahir Shah, to Kabul to oversee a transition to a post-Taliban government suffered a major setback last Wednesday when the UN declined his urgent request to provide peacekeeping troops to assure his safety, Afghans said.

“Afghanistan needs — and I need — United Nations peacekeeping forces to come and bring peace to Afghanistan,” Mr Zeman told Reuters at his home in Peshawar late yesterday.

“If the UN refuses to send peacekeeping troops and peace does not come to Afghanistan, the war will spread. Other countries will also not be at peace. There will be more troubles like on September 11.”

Afghan opposition leaders backing the former King believe his return to Afghanistan after four decades in roman exile would spark off mass desertions from the Taliban military and force the hardline Islamic government to crumble.

Mr Zeman (44) who fought among the Mujahideen (holy warriors) as a commander during the war of resistance against the 1979-89 Soviet occupation, said his group would first send religious leaders from the Pashtun tribes to meet Taliban leaders in Jalalabad to urge them to surrender. The Observer, Reuters

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Turkish troops to protect Kabul?

Islamabad, October 21
Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer has expressed his willingness to provide troops for the protection of Kabul, as also to serve the long-term economic interests of Islamabad.

This was conveyed by Islamabad-based diplomats to The News before President Serzer visits Pakistan next week. ANI

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Anthrax not linked to Al-Qaida: Bush

Washington, October 21
Investigators have found no link between the anthrax attacks in the USA and the Al-Qaida terrorist network of Islamic militant Osama bin Laden, US President George W. Bush has said as the authorities made a third discovery of anthrax at a US Capitol building.

“We do not yet know who sent anthrax to the United States Capitol or several different media organisations,” Mr Bush, in Shanghai for an Asian-Pacific summit, said yesterday in a radio address to the nation. “We do not, at this point, have any evidence linking the anthrax to the terror network that carried out the attacks of September 11.

“We do know that anyone who deliberately delivers anthrax is engaged in a crime and an act of terror, a hateful attempt to harm innocent people and frighten our citizens.’’

Later, a police official announced the discovery of anthrax spores in a House of Representatives office building that handles mail for Congressmen, the first such discovery in a House facility.

Meanwhile, in a country already traumatised by the September 11 attacks, bioterrorism has put to the test the psyche of Americans, who have to live with something they are not really accustomed to: fear.

In contrast to the suicide attacks by hijacked planes, as massive and visible as they were, the recent emergence of anthrax cases in New York, Washington and Boca Raton, Florida, is silently feeding a national psychosis.

At this stage, only one person has died and eight persons have developed the disease.

The element of surprise is always there. But this time, the threat is more pernicious, anonymous, appearing in letters sent to people.

The threat is also more difficult to grasp because Americans were confronted with an unknown and rare disease and the initial mishandling of the crisis by authorities has spread confusion and heightened hysteria.

Experts say the attacks and the cases of bioterrorism, created a collective malaise, even if the long-term psychological impact remains to be evaluated.

LONDON: Anthrax hoaxers in Britain face up to seven years in jail under strict new laws, Downing Street has announced.

People who carry out hoaxes involving biological, chemical, radioactive or nuclear weapons will be dealt with under the tough new legislation. Under current British law, only hoaxes relating to explosive devices are an offence. DPA, AFP

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Musharraf next target, say Taliban

Teheran, October 21
There will be no kamikaze attacks by Al-Qaida terrorist cells against any nation, the security chief of the ruling Afghan Taliban, Qari Ahmadollah, said in an interview published today.

Osama bin Laden and Taliban spiritual chief Mullah Mohammad Omar had reached an agreement not to undertake any kamikaze attacks against any country but instead focus on fighting US forces in Afghanistan, told the Teheran daily Entekhab in a telephone interview.

“We have no direct contact with Bin Laden, but we know that he is well,’’ Ahmadollah said. Mullah Mohammad Omar was well, too, with “a high fighting spirit’’, he said.

Referring to Islamabad’s alliance with the USA, he said Pakistan as country and nation was still a friend of the Taliban but this does not include Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

“Musharraf is our enemy and the next target in due time,’’ he said.

He claimed that the Taliban had 500 Stinger missiles and that all commanders and forces of Gulbeddin Hekmatyar, the Pashtoon Prime Minister of the ousted Afghan Government, had joined the Taliban in their fight against US forces.

“We cannot cope with US air superiority, but we will show it to them on the ground,’’ the security chief said. DPA

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3 Bangladeshis die in crossfire

Dhaka, October 21
Three Bangladeshis were killed near the Indo-Bangla border in north-eastern Sunamganj district after they were caught in a crossfire between paramilitary frontier forces of the two countries, according to press reports received here today.

The daily Bangladesh Observer said the dead included two local Garo tribal farmers whose bullet-ridden bodies were found near the common frontier some 410 km north-east of the capital city.

Eyewitnesses said the Bangladeshi frontier guards were responding to firing from across the frontier early on Sunday when the three were shot down. The third victim was identified as a 16-year-old Muslim youth. DPA

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Manila peace talks ‘suspended’

Kuala Lumpur, October 21
Peace negotiations between the Philippines Government and Muslim rebels were “suspended” at the weekend after hitting a snag, a rebel spokesman said today.

“We cannot agree on certain points. We will go back for consultation with our principals in the Philippines,” said Murad Ebrahim, Military Affairs Vice- Chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Murad, who headed an 18-member MILF delegation to the six-day talks in Malaysia, said the two parties disagreed on how to use the money that would be allocated for development projects in conflict-affected areas.

ZAMBOANGA CITY: At least 16 Muslim Abu Sayyaf rebels were killed on Sunday when fighting erupted between the guerrillas and Philippine troops, the military said.

Col Roland Detabali said nine soldiers were also wounded in the fighting in the hinterlands of Talipao town, Jolo island, 1,000 km South of Manila. AFP, DPA

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20 Tigers die in sea battle

Colombo, October 21
Twenty LTTE cadres were either killed or injured and three rebel boats destroyed in gunfire by the Sri Lankan navy off the island’s northern coast today, the Defence Ministry said.

The mid-sea encounter took place when naval patrol craft deployed to block possible LTTE shipments detected five rebel boats in the morning, about 55 nautical miles East of Point Pedro and attacked them.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, who feels that there should be an immediate halt to hostile military operation by both sides, has said that there will be no offensive military operations from the government side unless something happens on the part of the Tamil Tigers, which could disturb the situation. PTI, UNI

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