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Kalam arrives in Myanmar
Yangon, March 8
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam arrived here today on the first leg of his two-nation visit seeking to engage Myanmar’s military regime to forge closer and substantive economic ties and chalk out modalities for plugging the routes for insurgents infiltrating into India’s north-east region.


President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam is welcomed by students waving Indian and Myanmar flags upon arrival at the Yangon International Airport on Wednesday

President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam is welcomed by students waving Indian and Myanmar flags upon arrival at the Yangon International Airport on Wednesday. This is the highest-level visit from India to Myanmar since Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi travelled to Yangon in December 1987. — AFP photo





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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

Iran cautions US on nuclear issue
Vienna, March 8
The US could feel “harm and pain” if the UN Security Council took up the issue of Tehran’s nuclear research, Iran said today. Tehran vowed to pursue the programme come what may.

US forces, Iraq Govt violating law: Annan
United Nations, March 8
Kofi Annan US-led coalition forces and Iraq’s authorities may be violating international law by arbitrarily detaining thousands of people, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a report. The report, which studied the situation in Iraq over the last three months, said Iraq’s prison system remains a major concern and lamented that an investigation into allegations of torture in Iraqi Interior Ministry jails had not yet been made public as promised.


Mahatma Gandhi Street named after Gandhi
Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia), March 8
A street in the Mongolian capital city of Ulaanbaatar has been named after Mahatma Gandhi. The one-kilometre long street near the central stadium here, connecting the Olympic Avenue with the Peace Avenue, is located in the 'A' central zone of the city. A number of centralised constructions such as Japan Town and Altai Construction Town will be built in the surroundings of the street.

Pirates seek huge ransom for Indian sailors
Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), March 8
Somalian pirates are believed to be demanding large ransoms for 32 captive sailors from India and other countries whose ships were hijacked in Africa's most perilous waters, a maritime watchdog said today.

Masked gunmen rob plane
Stockholm, March 8
The Authorities evacuated parts of an airport in southwestern Sweden after masked gunmen robbed a passenger plane that had just landed from London and left a suspicious package that the police said looked like a bomb.

Teri Hatcher ‘Housewives’ star reveals sex abuse
Los Angeles, March 8
''Desperate Housewives'' star Teri Hatcher revealed that she was sexually abused by an uncle as a child but kept it secret until he was arrested years later for molesting a girl who ultimately committed suicide.


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Kalam arrives in Myanmar

Yangon, March 8
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam arrived here today on the first leg of his two-nation visit seeking to engage Myanmar’s military regime to forge closer and substantive economic ties and chalk out modalities for plugging the routes for insurgents infiltrating into India’s north-east region.

Dr Kalam, who became the first Indian President to visit Myanmar, was received by State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) Chairman Senior-General Than Shwe at the airport. He was accorded the red carpet welcome and given a 21-gun salute.

As a part of India’s “Look East Policy”, Dr Kalam is to discuss with the top military brass, headed by Senior-General Than Shwe, the entire gamut of bilateral issues, especially a trilateral gas pipeline involving Myanmar and Bangladesh and a trade route that links India with the ASEAN.

Dr Kalam, who is accompanied by Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and some other senior officials, will seek to engage Myanmar’s military junta in tackling the problem of insurgency in India’s north-east region and forging a long-term strategy in the hydrocarbon sector to meet its growing needs for energy.

The visit, at the invitation Senior-General Than Shwe, marks the culmination of upswing in bilateral relations in recent years between the two countries. It also marks the highest-level visit from India to Myanmar. Late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had travelled to Yangon in December 1987. Interestingly, this is Dr Kalam’s first visit to a neighbouring country since taking office in July 2002.

In 2003, Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat led a delegation to Myanmar. This was followed by SPDC Chairman Senior-General Than Shwe and wife Daw Kyaing making a state visit to India in October 2004. — UNI

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Iran cautions US on nuclear issue

Vienna, March 8
The US could feel “harm and pain” if the UN Security Council took up the issue of Tehran’s nuclear research, Iran said today. Tehran vowed to pursue the programme come what may.

“The United States may have the power to cause harm and pain but it is also susceptible to harm and pain. So if the United States wishes to choose that path, let the ball roll,” it said in a statement obtained by Reuters on the sidelines of a UN nuclear watchdog board meeting in Vienna.

Iran has accused Washington of helping to engineer an International Atomic Energy Agency board vote a month ago to report Tehran’s atomic project to the Security Council.

Iran denies Western suspicions that it is secretly trying to build atomic bombs, saying it seeks only nuclear-generated electricity.

“In any case, we will continue to exercise our research and development activities based on our right,” the statement said.

“There are two options before us. Either to compromise and cooperate or go for confrontation. We hope and spare no effort that the first option will be realised,” it added, alluding to now-stalled diplomacy to resolve the crisis.

An Iranian collision course with the council looked more likely after Tehran brushed aside what EU diplomats said was a Russian offer to let it do some atomic research if it refrained from enriching uranium on an industrial scale for 7 to 9 years.

The United States and its key European Union allies Britain, France and Germany also rebuffed the idea because they said it would not have prevented Iran perfecting bomb technology via enrichment research. — Reuters

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US forces, Iraq Govt violating law: Annan

United Nations, March 8
US-led coalition forces and Iraq’s authorities may be violating international law by arbitrarily detaining thousands of people, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a report.

The report, which studied the situation in Iraq over the last three months, said Iraq’s prison system remains a major concern and lamented that an investigation into allegations of torture in Iraqi Interior Ministry jails had not yet been made public as promised.

While Annan praised Iraq’s December elections, he also noted a rise in sectarian strife and said attacks against places of worship were higher than ever. Baghdad's Forensic Institute alone received 787 bodies, 479 of which had gunshot wounds, since early December.

“Repeated bombings against civilians, mosques and more recently against churches are creating fear, animosity and feelings of revenge,” Annan wrote.

While many of the claims were not new, Annan’s criticism of Multinational Forces and the Iraqi authorities in responding to violence was among the strongest he has made. He said the detainment of thousands of Iraqis “constitutes de facto arbitrary detention.” “The extent of such practices is not consistent with provisions of international law,” the report said.

Annan also demanded that Iraqi and coalition forces release the results of an investigation into allegations of torture at an Interior Ministry detention centre in Baghdad’s Jadiriyah district.

The US Mission to the UN refused to comment on the report.

Annan repeated his strong concern about the February 22 bombing that destroyed the golden dome atop a Shiite shrine in the Sunni city of Samarra. — AP

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Street named after Gandhi

Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia), March 8
A street in the Mongolian capital city of Ulaanbaatar has been named after Mahatma Gandhi. The one-kilometre long street near the central stadium here, connecting the Olympic Avenue with the Peace Avenue, is located in the 'A' central zone of the city. A number of centralised constructions such as Japan Town and Altai Construction Town will be built in the surroundings of the street.

The Ulaanbaatar City Khural (Assembly) of Citizens' Representatives made a decision to name the street after Mahatma Gandhi within the scope of the measures planned for the 50th jubilee of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between Mongolia and India.

Present at the street's opening ceremony held yesterday were Indian Ambassador to Mongolia Gauri Shankar Gupta, Ulaanbaatar city Mayor Ts. Batbayar, Head of the Asian Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs S. Khurelbaatar, and the Head of Mongolian-IndianFriendship Society, Ch. Dambajav.

A street in Delhi was also named after the Ulaanbaatar city last year.— MONTSAME

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Pirates seek huge ransom for Indian sailors

Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), March 8
Somalian pirates are believed to be demanding large ransoms for 32 captive sailors from India and other countries whose ships were hijacked in Africa's most perilous waters, a maritime watchdog said today.

Owners of the Indian-flagged merchant ship 'Bhaktisagar' began talks this week to secure the freedom of 21 Indian crew members who were taken hostage on February 26 off the Somali coast, said Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting centre here.

Separately, 11 seafarers comprising six Somalians, three Tanzanians, an Indian and Sri Lankan have been held for more than three months by Somali gunmen who stormed their Georgian-registered cargo vessel, MV Julia-54, in early December.
— AP

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Masked gunmen rob plane

Stockholm, March 8
The Authorities evacuated parts of an airport in southwestern Sweden after masked gunmen robbed a passenger plane that had just landed from London and left a suspicious package that the police said looked like a bomb.

Stunned passengers waiting to disembark the Scandinavian Airlines jet yesterday, witnessed the brazen robbery at the Landvetter airport outside Goteborg, Sweden's second largest city.

At least five robbers, some armed with assault rifles, crashed through a gate at the airport and held up luggage handlers as they were unloading crates of foreign currency from the plane, police spokeswoman Anna Rosenberg said .No one was injured.

The robbers left a suspicious package on the tarmac, prompting the police to evacuate parts of the airport and call in bomb disposal experts to investigate.

``We suspect it may be a bomb,'' ms Rosenberg said. The package was to be taken to Stockholm for further examination, national broadcaster SVT reported.

The robbers sped off in two vehicles — a Volvo and a Jeep — and spread nails on the road to block the police from pursuing them, she said. Both vehicles were found burnt a few kilometres from the airport.

A police helicopter and several patrol cars were searching for the robbers Ms Rosenberg said, adding that passengers and other witnesses were being questioned.

It was not immediately known how much money the robbers stole, but Rosenberg said it was “a big sum.” SAS Cargo spokesman Ulrik H. Marschall confirmed that the thieves stole cargo being transported by the company on the flight from London, but would not give details. — AP

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‘Housewives’ star reveals sex abuse

Los Angeles, March 8
''Desperate Housewives'' star Teri Hatcher revealed that she was sexually abused by an uncle as a child but kept it secret until he was arrested years later for molesting a girl who ultimately committed suicide.

In an interview appearing in Vanity Fair magazine yesterday, Hatcher said she told prosecutors about her abuse in 2002 because she was haunted by thoughts of the 14-year-old girl who shot herself and feared that her uncle might escape conviction.

''I was just blown over by this girl's pain,'' the 41-year-old television star told Vanity Fair, recalling she learned about the case from newspaper clippings.

Richard Hayes Stone, who was married to Hatcher's mother's sister when she was a girl, pleaded guilty to four counts of child molestation in December 2002 and was sentenced to 14 years in prison after Hatcher agreed to testify against him.

Hatcher is best known for her TV role on ABC's hit show ''Desperate Housewives.''
— Reuters

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