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NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) on high state of alert

Russia's security services are on high alert following a number of explosions in Moscow.

Recent bombings are being investigated to determine if they were the work of criminals or Chechen rebels. A report is due June 7 on Russia's role on the war on terrorism.

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Denmark Creates Anti-terror Intelligence Analysis Unit

COPENHAGEN (AP)--Denmark Wednesday announced the creation of a new intelligence unit that will analyze terror threats and coordinate responses among government agencies.

The Center for Terror Analysis will consist of 15 analysts from Denmark's domestic and foreign intelligence services, the Foreign Ministry and the Danish Emergency Management Agency.

Justice Minister Lene Espersen said the unit would help strengthen Denmark's terror preparedness.

"With a closer cooperation between the relevant authorities we can gain better analyses and threat assessments which would enable us to take the necessary and correct decisions to counter threats," she said in a statement.

Espersen said the government was inspired by the U.K.'s Joint Terrorism Analysis Center, which analyzes and assesses domestic and foreign intelligence relating to international terrorism.

Denmark has upgraded its two intelligence agencies following the terror attacks in the U.S., Madrid and London. Both have recruited new analysts and Arab-speaking staff.

Danish intelligence officials have noted a rise in threats of violence after the Scandinavian country early this year became a target of angry Muslim protests against the Prophet Muhammad cartoons, which first appeared in a Danish newspaper.

The only known attack in Denmark by radical Islamic terrorists occurred in 1985, when a bomb was detonated outside the offices of North West Orient airlines, killing one person and wounding 16. Three Palestinians living in Sweden were convicted of planting the bombs and sentenced to life in prison in 1989.

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Iran: Oil everywhere, but not enough to fill gas tanks

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran is flush with huge oil reserves and cash, but a refinery shortage leaves it heavily dependent on imported gasoline and diesel to keeps its cars and trucks rolling.

That’s one reason the country — already beset with economic troubles — is desperate to avoid U.N. sanctions over its nuclear program.

“Oil is where Iran is most vulnerable,” said Behzad Nabavi, a former lawmaker who also headed a state-directed oil company, Petropars. “It’s one of the great economic paradoxes.”

Concern over fuel supplies has become so serious that energy planners are considering an unpopular two-tier pricing system.

The plan would limit the amount of gasoline motorists can buy at the state subsidized price of about 32 cents a gallon and establish an unspecified market price for larger purchases. Planners believe that would help offset the cost of imports and curb consumption.

Even a moderate drop in gasoline or diesel imports as a result of sanctions would be a punishing blow for an economy with many soft spots — double-digit inflation, chronic unemployment and cumbersome state controls among them.

One of the possible sanctions under consideration Thursday at a meeting in Austria of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany will be an embargo on exporting refined petroleum products to Iran.

After a flurry of telephone diplomacy, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced Wednesday that the Americans would be ready to join in talks with Iran over the nuclear dispute.

Iran has no shortage of oil in the ground or cash in hand.

Its oil reserves are estimated at second only to Saudi Arabia’s, and Iran is OPEC’s fourth-biggest producer of crude. Rising prices — now hovering around $70 a barrel — pushed Iran’s special petrodollar fund to a record $24 billion earlier this year.

What Iran lacks are sufficient refineries to keep pace with its thirst for fuel. Iran is almost fully dependent on trucks to move goods. The number of cars is rising each year as drivers from the baby boom decade after the 1979 Islamic Revolution take the wheel.

Iran imports more than 40 percent of its gasoline and diesel needs. It comes mostly from the Middle East but also from as far away as Venezuela.

Closing the import tap could force Iran to either impose rationing — as it did during the 1980-88 war with Iraq — or raise prices and risk a backlash from a public accustomed to paying more for bottled water than gasoline.

Making up the refinery shortage would take years, meaning Iran would have no alternative fuel supplies if hit by U.N. sanctions. The United States and its European allies want sanctions imposed if Iran refuses to give up its uranium enrichment program, which is feared to be designed for producing nuclear weapons.

“Iran really does not have a lot of room to maneuver on the basic issue of refinery capacity and demand,” said Narsi Ghorban, an independent energy consultant based in Tehran.

China and Russia, permanent Security Council members, have opposed sanctions, which is what — effectively — has pushed diplomats to the Vienna meeting to examine a set of economic incentives to sway Iran.

Iranian authorities have not budged on their stated determination to continue uranium enrichment and a peaceful nuclear power program as a “national right.”

Iran’s economy, however, could make a sweet trade and technology package from abroad enticing. The country suffers from sparse direct foreign investment and a creaky telecommunications system.

“Iran has a vision of being a regional economic and technological powerhouse. They know very well this vision will not be realized ... by domestic companies alone,” said Siamak Namazi, managing director of Atieh Bahar Consulting, a Tehran-based firm providing economic surveys and analysis.

“High oil prices mean (Iran) is less reliant on outside financing. They have their own money. But that doesn’t help the technology gap,” he said.

Much of the blame, analysts say, rests at the top.

At least 80 percent of the economy is under the thumb of the ruling clerics, whose legacy includes hundreds of false starts such as unfinished bridges and roads. Official unemployment is about 16 percent, but some analysts place it above 30 percent. An estimated 25 percent of the nation’s 65 million people live below the poverty line.

Strategic planning — plotted in Soviet-style, five-year blueprints — is only now starting to warm up to privatization and foreign investment.

But Iran has proven an unreliable partner in deals with French automaker Renault SA and Turkish mobile phone network operator Turkcell, for example, with whom big plans fell through because of bureaucratic or security intransigence in Tehran.

Many other investors have either pulled out of the Iranian market or put plans on hold on fears the nuclear standoff could lead to U.N. punishments or possible military action.

Yet that hasn’t stopped everyone. Suitors keep knocking at the door for a piece of Iran’s energy wealth, including its vast natural gas reserves. China’s state energy company has signed deals for natural gas. India and Pakistan are negotiating for a possible pipeline from Iran’s natural gas fields.

Those deals display the growing disregard for Washington policy. In 1996, the U.S. said it would consider sanctions on any company that invests more than $20 million annually in the Iranian oil and gas sectors. The threat was never enforced.

A snapshot of Iran’s economy:

OIL AND GAS: Iran is estimated to have between 7 percent to 9 percent of the world’s known oil reserves and about 15 percent of natural gas reserves. Energy exports are Iran’s main source of foreign currency.

TRADING PARTNERS: In Europe, Germany, France and Italy. In Asia, Japan and China. In 2000, the United States lifted a ban on some imports, including caviar and carpets, but maintains sweeping restrictions on business ties.

PROBLEMS: Direct foreign investment remains low because of laws requiring extensive local contracts and partnerships. The level of technology, including advance telecommunications, lags behind most other Gulf nations. Official unemployment is about 16 percent, but many analysts place the figure at 30 percent or more.

DEALS: Iran is expanding natural gas and crude oil exports to China and South Asia.

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Lithuania's government collapses in acrimony

VILNIUS (AFP) - Lithuania's government has fallen apart after Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas and his whole cabinet announced their resignation following the defection of the largest party in the coalition.

"The situation today is such that I have to step down," he told reporters on Wednesday.

Under Lithuanian law, if the prime minister quits the entire government has to resign.

President Valdas Adamkus now has 15 days to name a new prime minister who, if confirmed by the parliament, would nominate members of a new cabinet for approval by the head of state.

Brazauskas insisted that "the government could continue its work, we could find new ministers and form a new programme."

Analysts have not ruled out the possibility of early elections, which can be triggered by a three-fifths majority vote in the 141-seat parliament.

Elections can also be called by the president if lawmakers do not approve the new government's programme.

Brazauskas, 73, the last head of the Lithuanian Communist Party, has been prime minister since July 2001.

He was also the country's first president, from 1993 to 1998, after the former communist state regained its independance from the Soviet Union in 1991.

The political crisis erupted when the Labour Party abruptly recalled its five ministers from government early Wednesday in protest over the actions of the president.

"We cannot tolerate the current political situation in Lithuania, where the president is trying to ruin the work of the government and parliament," Zilvinas Padaiga, deputy chairman of the Labour Party and health minister, said.

"That's why we are leaving the government," Padaiga added.

Adamkus had said in a statement Tuesday that he did not trust Padaiga and Culture Minister Vladimiras Prudnikovas, and cast doubt on the ability of the government to work effectively.

The president suggested that the government, which lacked a parliamentary majority even before Wednesday's crisis, should be put to a confidence vote in parliament.

Labour officials head the interior, economy, justice, health and culture ministries.

The crisis has been brewing since mid-May, when police searched the Labour Party headquarters. Few details have emerged of what the search turned up, but media reports have said the party is suspected of financial impropriety.

Viktor Uspaskich, the Russian-born millionaire who heads Labour, left for Russia immediately after the searches to attend his brother's funeral and has yet to return.

He said Monday that he was temporarily suspending his duties as head of the party.

Lithuanian law says a vote of confidence in the government must be held in parliament if half the cabinet ministers change.

The crisis is the second to rock the government in the Baltic state in less than two months.

Foreign minister Antanas Valionis and social security and labour minister Vilija Blinkeviciute resigned following the withdrawal from the then four-way coalition of their Social Liberal party in April.

The Social Liberals were angered that their leader, Arturas Paulauskas, was ousted as parliamentary speaker in a vote by legislators.

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Pakistani Taliban take control of wild Waziristan

TANK, Pakistan (Reuters) - When the Pakistan army's front line in its war on terrorism moved elsewhere, and the Taliban took control of his hometown, Baidar decided it was time to leave.

"The government is helpless. The Taliban is in full control there, not religious students, but militant Taliban," said the 30-year-old Wazir tribesman.

Baidar shut his medical store in the bazaar at Wana, the main town in South Waziristan, one of Pakistan's seven semi-autonomous tribal agencies, and moved to Tank, just across the boundary in North West Frontier Province.

"The real worry is for businessmen and educated people because they fear being targeted or killed by the Taliban on suspicion of being informers for the government or America," said the shopkeeper, who, unlike many others, dared to give his name.

The Pakistan army, in the words of President Pervez Musharraf, chased al Qaeda out of South Waziristan "valley by valley" in an offensive that lasted from late 2003 to early 2005.

Thereafter the focus switched to North Waziristan, where more than 300 militants have been killed since mid-2005.

A few of them were core al Qaeda members, such as an Egyptian wanted for the 1998 bombings of U.S. Embassies in East Africa, but most of the 75 or so foreigners killed were from
Chechnya or Islamist guerrillas from Central Asia.

In an interview with Avt Khyber TV, an independent Pashto-language channel, aired on May 19, Musharraf said the operations against al Qaeda had been very successful, but in the next breath he said: "Extremism and Talibanization are spreading ... now the focus has shifted from terrorism to extremism."

And while the fighting has intensified in North Waziristan, its southern neighbor has become quiet -- too quiet.

"If you say there is peace, I would say yes there is no trouble. But if you ask whether there is any government I would say no," said a member of the Mehsuds, the other dominant tribe in South Waziristan, who, like Baidar, has moved to North West Frontier Province (NWFP) to escape the Taliban's power grab.

"They are basically strengthening their position. They are virtually ruling the roost."

The old social order has broken down in the towns and villages of Waziristan, a region populated by some of the most recalcitrant tribes on Pakistan's side of the Pashtun belt that straddles the border with

As the military campaign moved north, political assassinations became commonplace in the south.

Unknown gunmen ambushed administrators, pro-government tribal elders and journalists, forcing many to flee with their families to the settled areas of NWFP.

"Almost all malakan (pro-government tribal elders) have left Waziristan," said Baidar.


A power vacuum opened the door for militant Muslim clerics, dubbed Pakistani Taliban by the media.

Musharraf says they have no single leader, although they may have ties with the Afghan Taliban chief, Mullah Mohammad Omar.

But Haji Mohammad Omar, a burly, heavily bearded 45-year-old is one of the new forces in South Waziristan.

Residents say his men roam around Wana with rocket launchers mounted on the back of their pick-up trucks.

"We have brought peace in Waziristan. We have eliminated excesses, oppression, robberies and drugs from Waziristan," he told Reuters by telephone from Wana.

The militants have opened offices and set up checkposts in Wana's main market, collecting fees from vehicles entering.

They have even set up a court to conduct summary trials.

Most times the mullahs increase the fine for murders, and executions are rare, although a man convicted of killing his son was shot dead in front of a crowd of 150 tribesmen in late March.

A veteran of the mujahideen guerrilla war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, Omar later fought with the Taliban and met al Qaeda chief
Osama bin Laden.

Now, after being granted an amnesty and being paid to stop making trouble in 2004, Omar openly admits recruiting fighters to send them across the border to fight U.S. and Afghan forces.

He accuses Musharraf of "allying with infidels."

Critics say the government erred by giving militant leaders among the tribes too much respect, and by buying them off.

"These deals gave legitimacy to these people and that's why they are now expanding their influence," said Rahimullah Yusufzai, a newspaper editor and expert on tribal affairs.

"Much of the Talibanization was spread by the very militants who were handed out massive bribes," a Daily Times editorial in May said bluntly.

Worse still, the vast majority of the deeply conservative and largely illiterate people support this self-styled Taliban of Waziristan, according to intelligence and government officials.

Waziristan's Taliban advise men to grow beards and veil their women, cameras are banned, and the militant mullahs are trying to stop people watching television or listening to music.

Musharraf cited a report he had received of televisions being set ablaze in Malakand, another tribal region on the frontier.

"This is a Talibanized mindset. It has spread. It has to be stopped. Now we are in a different ball game," Musharraf said.

The government is trying to set up councils of respected tribal elders and administrators, but it will take time.

Meantime, Musharraf says military operations must go on, although critics fear Pakistan will suffer from the backlash for years to come.

He warned that the Taliban influence was spreading from tribal areas to neighboring settled areas.

In Tank armed men roam the streets at night on motorcycles. They're Taliban, townsfolk mutter in fear.

"It is just like cancer. It is bound to spread if not properly treated," a senior security officer in Peshawar said.

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Developments in Iraq on May 31

May 31 (Reuters) - The following are security and other developments in Iraq on Wednesday as of 0930 GMT.

The new Shi'ite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki has vowed to rein in insurgent and sectarian violence that has killed thousands of people since U.S.-forces invaded Iraq in 2003.

Asterisk denotes a new or updated item.

*MUQDADIYA - The mayor of Muqdadiya was killed along with his brother and his cousin when a bomb planted in his office exploded in the town 40 km (25 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

*MOSUL - A car bomb exploded, wounding 20 people including five policemen, in the northern city of Mosul, 390 km north of Baghdad, police said.

*NEAR BAGHDAD - Iraqi police found the bodies of four poeple with bullet wounds in their bodies in an area 65 km south of Baghdad, police said.

*KIRKUK - Iraqi police found a corpse bearing signs of torture with gunshot wounds in his head in Kirkuk, police said.

*BAGHDAD - Gunmen killed Ali Jaafar, sports anchorman for Iraqi state television, as he left his home, police sources said.

SAMAWA - A civilian was wounded when a roadside bomb went off near a military patrol in the southern city of Samawa, 270 km south of Baghdad, police and witnesses said.

KIRKUK - Iraqi police arrested an insurgent in Kirkuk, 250 km north of Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD - Forty-two bodies have been found dumped in various parts of Baghdad over the last 24 hours, many of them shot, bound and showing signs of torture, police sources said.

KHALIDIYA - An Iraqi soldier was killed and four others were wounded when a roadside bomb went off near their patrol in Khalidiya, 85 km west of Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD - Two policemen were seriously wounded when a roadside bomb went off near their patrol in Baghdad, police said.

TIKRIT - Gunmen killed two police officers in two different incidents in Tikrit, 175 km north of Baghdad, on Tuesday, police said on Wednesday.

KIRKUK - Gunmen killed a civilian and wounded two others on Tuesday night outside a mobile shop in the city of Kirkuk, police said.


BAGHDAD - The trial of Saddam Hussein and seven co-accused for crimes against humanity is due to resume in Baghdad on Wednesday.

BASRA - Iraq's prime minister vowed on Wednesday to crack down with an "iron fist" on gangs threatening security in the oil-rich city of Basra, which is in the grip of a power struggle between Shi'ite factions. Nuri al-Maliki, in an address to local officials broadcast live on state television, also said he would order his security services to come up with an urgent plan to restore security in Iraq's second city.

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Taliban kill, kidnap dozens of Afghan police

KABUL, May 31 (Reuters) - Taliban fighters killed at least a dozen Afghan police and abducted up to 40 in two separate attacks in southern Afghanistan, while U.S.-led forces launched an offensive in a nearby province, officials said on Wednesday.

In the southern province of Zabul, a senior police official, Mohammad Rasoul, was killed and four other people, including two senior provincial officials, were wounded after the Taliban hit their car with a rocket on Tuesday night.

"They were part of a reinforcement sent to help a group of highway police who had come under Taliban attack on a road of Zabul," said Yousuf Stanizai, the Interior Ministry spokesman.

An official in Zabul, who declined to be identified, said more than 10 policemen were killed in the Taliban assault.

The raid in Zabul came hours after the Taliban attacked a police base in Chora district of neighbouring Uruzgan province and abducted up to 40 policemen, an official in Kabul said on condition of anonymity.

A Reuters reporter received a phone call from an unknown person who described himself as Mullah Ahmad, a Taliban commander, and said the militants had taken the police hostage and the Taliban's leadership would decide their fate.

He said militants had killed 12 police in the attack before kidnapping the others.

Separately, coalition and Afghan troops on Wednesday scoured villages for Taliban insurgents in several areas of Ghazni province, said Sher Alam Ibrahimi, the region's governor.

The operation was launched following a series of Taliban attacks in the province recently and amid reports the militants had regrouped there, Ibrahimi said.

Coalition forces captured six suspected Taliban fighters, but there were no reports of fighting, he added. A coalition spokesman could not be contacted for comment.

Meanwhile, the capital Kabul was calm on Wednesday following anti-U.S. riots two days earlier, in which at least seven Afghans were killed. The riots were sparked by a U.S. military truck killing five civilians after its brakes failed.

A night curfew has been in place in the city, and Afghan troops were patrolling the streets.

The U.S. military has offered compensation to family and dependents of those killed in the accident.

The violence in Zabul and Uruzgan comes amid a series of operations by coalition forces in the south in the past two weeks.

Some 350 people have been killed, many of them in air strikes. Most of those killed were militants, but the toll also includes dozens of police, at least 17 civilians and four foreign troops.

It is the bloodiest period in the insurgency since coalition troops overthrew the Taliban government in 2001 for refusing to hand over al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The Taliban and their Islamist allies are mostly active in the southern and eastern areas.

Some 23,000 coalition troops are hunting the militants while a NATO-led force has begun expanding its mission into the south.

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SOMALIA: Fresh fighting breaks out in Mogadishu

NAIROBI, 31 May (IRIN) - At least five people were killed and a dozen others wounded when fighting between Islamic court militiamen and forces loyal to an alliance of secular leaders erupted in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, early on Wednesday.

Witnesses said militia allied to the Islamic courts raided the Maslah area in northern Mogadishu's Huriwa District and engaged fighters loyal to Botan Isse Elmi, a local leader and a member of the newly formed coalition, the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism. Forces of the anti-terror group were driven out of the Maslah area, and a large garage they had occupied was taken over by court loyalists. Scores of people were seen fleeing from Maslah as the fighting raged.

"At least five dead bodies are lying in the battle area, and about a dozen others are wounded," said an area resident via telephone. "The Islamic court [militia] have driven Botan Isse's militiamen out of the area they occupied in the livestock market, near Maslah road. The area captured includes Orfano garage." The witness wished to remain anonymous for safety reasons. The court loyalists, who arrived in the battle area by public transport, seized five armed vehicles from Botan Isse's men, he said.

Wednesday's fighting broke three days of tentative calm in the city, following a clash on Saturday during which at least 12 people were killed.

The two sides have engaged in intermittent warfare in Mogadishu since 18 February. More than 300 people are believed to have died in the violence, and some 1,500 others have been wounded. On Monday, an armed group occupied a major hospital that offers surgical services to civilians wounded in the fighting in north Mogadishu, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Somali Red Crescent Society.

The United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Eric Laroche, has expressed concern over the targeting of civilians and medical facilities during the fighting and warned that "any deliberate attempt to prevent wounded or civilians receiving assistance and protection during fighting in the city may constitute elements of future war crimes."

Laroche said the fighting had the potential to spread to other areas of southern Somalia and cause more hardship to populations affected by the recent prolonged drought. He said it was "ethically unacceptable" that people could fight in Mogadishu at a time when southern Somalia was experiencing a humanitarian emergency.

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Iranian drone plane buzzes U.S. aircraft carrier in Persian Gulf

Ria Novosti: TEHRAN: A pilotless Iranian reconnaissance plane circled for 25 minutes over a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf before returning safely to its base, a senior Iranian official said Tuesday.

"Our pilotless reconnaissance plane flew over the USS Ronald Reagan in the Persian Gulf unnoticed to the Americans for 25 minutes," the official said, according to Iran's Fars agency.

He did not say when the flight took place, but added that U.S. radars picked up the unmanned aerial vehicle after 25 minutes, and that four USAF fighters and two helicopters were scrambled to intercept it. However, the Iranian plane had already crossed the border back into Iran and landed at its base.

"This points to holes in the U.S. military reconnaissance systems

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U.A.E. invited to develop Turkmen oil

ASGABAT, Turkmenistan, May 31 (UPI) -- Turkmen President Saparmyrat Turkmenbashi has invited oil companies from the United Arab Emirates to develop a Caspian Sea oil deposit, Turkmen TV reported.

The Turkmen president met with a delegation from the United Arab Emirates, including the ruler of Ra's al-Khaymah, Qasimi Shaykh Saqr Bin-Muhammad, and representatives from the Gulf country's oil and banking establishment, in Asgabat Monday, where the development of a Caspian Sea oil deposit and the upgrading of the country's eastern Seydi oil refinery were discussed.

"The Yaslar deposit (in south-eastern Turkmenistan) has not been developed yet. Its oil contains sulfur, and it just needs purification. A plant for purifying crude oil from sulfurs should be built there," Turkmen TV quoted the president as saying.

Qasimi was cited as having said that he looked forward to the prospect of expanding the work done by the United Arab Emirates Dragon Oil Company in Turkmenistan; the company already operates in western Turkmenistan, also in the Caspian Sea.

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Iran to build two more nuclear plants

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran plans to build two 1,000 megawatt nuclear reactors and will solicit bids within the next two months, a senior official told Reuters on Wednesday.

The tender will be open to domestic and international firms.

The decision to build two more nuclear plants comes amid mounting Western pressure on the Islamic state to suspend its uranium enrichment work.

"We want to build two nuclear power plants through an international tender," said Mohammad Saeedi, deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization.

"Iranian and international companies can participate in the tender, which will be within the next two months," he added.

He did not say where the reactors would be located.

In recent years, Iran has built plants generating 12,500 megawatts of electricity, and its first 1,000 MW nuclear power plant, being built with Russian help in the southern port of Bushehr, will come on stream in late 2007.

Washington and its allies fear Iran could use even limited enrichment facilities to master the technology to produce bomb-grade fuel. But Tehran insists its nuclear program is only to generate electricity to satisfy booming demand.

Russia has said it is interested in bidding for more nuclear work in Iran. Tehran has repeatedly said that Russia would have an advantage over other countries for the construction of Iran's new nuclear reactors.

The five permanent
U.N. Security Council powers and Germany are planning to meet in Vienna on Thursday to try to finalize a package of incentives for Iran to halt uranium enrichment along with penalties if it keeps defying international pressure.

Iran insists it has the right to process the uranium it mines in its central deserts for use in these power and Tehran has so far dismissed the initiative, saying no incentives will convince it to give up what it calls its national right.

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Canada spy warns of home-grown terror

ISN SECURITY WATCH (Wednesday, 31 May 2006: 13.30 CET) – A Canadian intelligence official has warned lawmakers that the country faces a threat of home-grown terrorists and could see itself the victim of an attack similar to the 7 July bombings of London's transport network.

Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) Deputy Director Jack Hooper told lawmakers in Ottawa on Monday that some Canadian citizens had trained in al-Qaida camps and that his agency lack the capability to investigate 90 per cent of immigrants coming into Canada in the past five years, Voice of America reported.

Hooper told the Canadian Senate Defense Committee on Monday that young Canadians with immigrant backgrounds were being radicalized through the internet and would likely seek targets at home, in Canada, according to CBC News.

"They are virtually indistinguishable from other youth. They blend in very well to our society, they speak our language, and they appear to be - to all intents and purposes - well-assimilated," Hooper told the committee.

"[They] look to Canada to execute their targeting," he said.

He compared the situation to Britain, warning of a repeat of the London bombings.

"I can tell you that all of the circumstances that led to the London transit bombings, to take one example, are resident here now in Canada," he said.

In an attempt to support his theory, he pointed out that a man who trained the bombers who attacked the US embassy in Nairobi in August 1998 was a Canadian resident who fought in Afghanistan.

Hooper suggested that the number of second- and third-generation extremists, born and raised in Canada and able to easily blend into the population, was increasing. He also said the number of non-traditional adherents to Islamic extremism was increasing, though it was unclear what he was basing this information on.

"We have cases of white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants converting to the most radical forms of Islam," he said. "These are people who blend in with us and our neighbors."

Some see Hooper's statement as a plea for additional intelligence funding, particularly to screen immigrant applicants.

At the same time, Hooper's grave statements could also spark a backlash of discrimination against immigrants in Canada, fanning the flames of suspicion and fear.

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Pakistan, India exchange lists of wanted criminals

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and India on Tuesday exchanged a list of wanted criminals but did not hold any discussion on the matter, official sources told Daily Times.

Syed Kamal Shah, Pakistan’s interior secretary, exchanged the list with his Indian counterpart VK Duggal, on the sidelines of two-day talks between the two countries.

Sources said the exchange of lists was not part of the agenda of the talks, which focussed on exchange of civilian prisoners and fighting drugs and terrorism.

The list given to the Indian home secretary by Pakistan included 58 wanted criminals believed to be hiding in India. Sources said one of the prominent names was Javed Langra. The Indian list contained 38 wanted criminals including Hafiz Saeed, Azhar Masood and Dawood Ibrahim.

Sources said the Indian home secretary also sought extradition of five hijackers of an Indian flight which was hijacked from Nepal and taken to Kandahar in December 1999.

India claims that Pakistani nationals Mohammad Ibrahim Athar Alvi, Zahoor Ibrahim Mistri, Shahid Akhtar Sayed, Shakir Mohammad and Azhar Yusuf were involved in the hijacking.

Sources said there was a little likelihood that the two countries would sign an extradition treaty for the exchange of criminals. They said the criminals wanted by Pakistan were “heroes” in India and vice-versa.

Sources said Pakistan denied India’s claim that Dawood Ibrahim – India’s most wanted man – was living in Karachi. Pakistani authorities made it clear that they had no information on Dawood’s whereabouts.

Sources said Shah rejected Indian allegations that Pakistan is involved in cross-border terrorism and observed that Pakistan was itself a victim of terrorism because it was a frontline state in the war against terror.

The Pakistani side also raised the issue of Indian consulates in Afghanistan, which Islamabad believes are abetting militants in Balochistan.

During the meeting the two sides agreed to provide consular access to prisoners within three months of their arrest. This would quicken the time it takes to repatriate prisoners. The two sides also agreed to quickly notify each other if their nationals were arrested.

India released 59 Pakistani fishermen on Monday while Pakistan released 71 Indian fishermen on Tuesday, but sources said 472 Pakistani prisoners were still in Indian jails. Of these, 147 prisoners do not have consular access and Shah demanded that Pakistan High Commission officials be allowed to contact them.

The Indian home secretary also demanded consular access to the 505 Indian fishermen and 109 other Indian civilians held in Pakistani jails.

The two sides also reviewed the progress of talks between the two countries on drugs and narcotics control. The officials discussed the possibility of cooperation on police training and crime investigation.

“The talks will continue tomorrow and a joint statement will be finalised and signed at the conclusion,” said an official press statement.

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Two Turkish soldiers, PKK rebels killed in clashes

ISTANBUL, May 30 (KUNA) -- Two Turkish soldiers were killed during a clash with Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) members in the Southeast province of Cirnak, Turkish military official said on Tuesday.

Members of the banned Party engaged in a shoot out with security forces that resulted in killing of two of PKK members, Turkish news agency (IHLAS) said.

Violent clashes between the PKK and security forces have increased, especially during this month, since the jailed party leader Abdullah Ojalan, in Emirili Island, called off a unilateral cease-fire in 2004.

The PKK or groups linked to it have also carried out attacks on civilian targets all over Turkey. (end)

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

China, India sign MoU on defense cooperation

TOKYO, May 30 (KUNA) -- China and India have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on their defense cooperation during Indian Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee's visit to China, official media reported here Tuesday.

The Chinese side holds that the signing of the MoU will be beneficial to the growth of Sino-Indian military relations and "will not target any third country," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao, according to Xinhua News Agency. The Indian defence minister, who arrived in Beijing on Sunday for his six-day visit to China, visited the Academy of Military Sciences of the People's Liberation Army. He received a briefing from top experts at the academy and took part in a discussion on military technology, it said. This is Mukherjee's first trip to China since the assumption of his post in 2004. Chinese Defense Minister Cao Ganchuan and Mukherjee held talks on Monday, pledging to deepen military exchanges between the armed forces of the two countries. China has pledged to step up strategic and cooperative relations with India in 2006, a year of friendship between China and India, said its Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing during a meeting with Mukherjee on Monday, it added. (end)

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Iran Nuclear Effort Reportedly Slows

The pace of Iran’s effort to produce nuclear fuel appears to have slowed in recent weeks, the New York Times reported yesterday (see GSN, May 26).

European officials have described the findings by international inspectors to White House and State Department officials in an effort to push Washington toward bilateral talks with Tehran. Tehran might be trying to reduce tensions in the nuclear standoff, diplomats say.

“The pace is more diplomatic than technical,” said a senior European diplomat who monitors the Iranian program. “They could probably have gone faster. But they don’t want to provoke.”

Bush administration hard-liners, however, expressed skepticism over the reported slowdown.

“It could simply mean we’re not looking in the right places,” said one senior official.

Nuclear experts said the slowdown could mean Iran faces technical difficulties. Diplomats said Iranian engineers stopped putting uranium hexafluoride into centrifuge arrays after 12 days.

Iran has announced that its next goal is to install nearly 1,000 new centrifuges by the end of the year. Experts have said Iran has not made substantial progress in that effort, and International Atomic Energy Agency findings combined with Tehran’s statements have raised questions about its claims of nuclear breakthroughs, according to the Times. Inspectors found that Iran used material from China in its first enrichment effort because its domestic uranium supplies are reportedly full of impurities. Tehran also appears to operating inefficient centrifuges.

While Iran’s cascade worked, “It didn’t operate well,” said David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security.

However, one European nuclear expert said such low efficiencies are not uncommon for initial centrifuge efforts, and that the results would likely be improved over time

Meanwhile, Russian National Security Council chief Igor Ivanov held a three-hour meeting with Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani. Officials in Tehran said they discussed the possibility of conducting uranium enrichment for Iran in Russia, and that Ivanov promoted a European incentives package aimed at ending Iran’s sensitive nuclear work. (Broad/Sanger, New York Times, May 29).

The Bush administration is pushing for significant financial sanctions on Iran from Europe and Japan, the Washington Post reported yesterday.

A Treasury Department task force developed the plan, which is designed to freeze the assets of every Iranian official, individual and entity the Bush administration considers connected to nuclear efforts, terrorism, government corruption, suppression of religious or democratic freedom and violence in Iraq, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories, according to the Post.

Internal U.S. assessments, however, indicate that the sanctions would not affect Tehran without also creating economic difficulty for Japan and Europe.

“I have been very open with people about the costs that could fall on them,” said Stuart Levey, Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

U.S. sanctions on Iran, which have been in place for decades, have not had much effect on Tehran. However, multilateral penalties would “isolate the Iranian regime” and see it “shunned by the international financial community,” according to one internal Bush administration memo.

The plan calls for the allies to freeze Iranian government accounts and assets in their respective countries, and Iranian officials who appear on U.S. blacklists would be barred from opening accounts, trading on foreign markets or obtaining credit, the Post reported.

U.S. officials said they hope the plan would be implemented if Iran refuses a package of incentives to be offered by Europe in coming weeks.

U.S. allies have not yet embraced the strategy, according to the Post. European officials said their reliance on Iranian oil, domestic legal constraints and the fear a new conflict in the Middle East made them reluctant to sign on.

“The sanctions could make Iran miserable, and Iran can respond by making everyone miserable back,” said one senior Western official. “In the end, the whole world is miserable and Iran gets to keep its nuclear program” (Dafna Linzer, Washington Post, May 29).

Foreign ministers from the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany and European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana are scheduled to meet Thursday on the issue, Agence France-Presse reported.

Political directors from the six foreign ministries are also expected to discuss the pending European incentives package in a telephone conference today, diplomats in Vienna told AFP.

A Western diplomat said France, Germany and the United Kingdom “are working hard now to revise their package to respond to concerns, mostly from (Iranian allies and trading partners) Russia and China.” The diplomat said disagreements about the timing of a Security Council resolution and possible sanctions remained.

“There are still significant areas of disagreement” such as “the detail and commitment in the package to a specific menu of sanctions,” the diplomat said.

Possible sanctions include an arms embargo, according to a draft text seen by AFP (Agence France-Presse I/IranMania.com, May 29).

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday that world powers are prepared to fully support Iran’s right to develop nuclear energy, AFP reported.

“We are prepared to guarantee Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear energy on the condition it answers the questions the IAEA has raised,” he said, according to Russian news agencies.

“We are ready and mutually interested in drawing Iran into full economic cooperation as well as in cooperation in regional security,” he said (Christopher Boian, Agence France-Presse II/Yahoo!News, May 29).

The Russian Foreign Ministry announced Sunday that Lavrov discussed the standoff with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the Associated Press reported (Associated Press I/MosNews.com, May 28).

Meanwhile in Washington, there is growing debate within the Bush administration on conducting direct talks with Iran, the Times reported.

European officials said Rice and top aides are discussing the matter, but others indicated that she remains resistant to direct talks, fearing that such a move would show weakness and disrupt negotiations with Europe.

Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld oppose even informal bilateral talks, administration officials said.

Several former U.S. officials, however, have begun pushing for direct talks.

“Diplomacy is much more than just talking to your friends,” former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told the Times. “You’ve got to talk to people who aren’t our friends, and even people you dislike. Some people in the administration think that diplomacy is a sign of weakness. In fact, it can show that you’re strong.”

Solana and Germany Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier have called on Rice to consider direct contacts, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel raised the issue with Bush in Washington earlier this year, according to the Times.

“It’s a European aspiration for talks to happen,” said one European official. “Nothing is likely at the moment” (Steven Weisman, New York Times, May 27).

Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Javad Zarif said Friday that Tehran could accept a limit to its uranium enrichment capability, AFP reported.

“This cap I think should be below 10 [percent uranium 235 in the fuel], meaning reactor grade,” he said. “Iran is prepared to put in place other measures to ensure fuel produced is not re-enriched and used for nuclear (weapons) purposes” (Agence France-Presse III/IranMania.com, May 26).

Iran also indicated today that it would consider Europe’s pending incentives package, AFP reported.

“We have to wait and see what kind of proposal will be made. We haven’t seen it yet. They have to submit it so it will be studied and we will see how it can be followed up,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi.

Asefi added, however, that Tehran had no plans to freeze its fuel cycle work.

“Halting or stopping enrichment is not on the agenda,” he said (Farhad Pouladi, Agence France-Presse IV/Yahoo!News, May 30).

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said today that the overextended U.S. military could not attack his country, AFP reported.

“They can’t. The U.S. is not in a position to impose another crisis on taxpayers. There are a lot of difficulties in Iraq and Palestine. They are not in a position to create a new crisis in the region,” he said (Agence France-Presse V/Yahoo!News, May 30).

Foreign ministers from the Nonaligned Movement nations today were to express support for Iran’s nuclear program, AP reported.

The ministers “reaffirmed the basic and inalienable right” of all countries to develop, produce and use atomic energy “for peaceful purposes, without any discrimination and in conformity with their respective legal obligations,” according to a copy of one declaration obtained by AP.

The bloc also demanded that Israel accede to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, according to the draft (Vijay Joshi, Associated Press II, May 30).

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UK national arrested on terrorism charges

A BRITON was charged on 30 May by police with possessing information likely to be useful to a terrorist, Reuters reported.

Yassin Nassari, 27, from London, was charged under the Terrorism Act 2000. A house in Eindhoven, in the Netherlands, was also being searched by Dutch police as part of the inquiry.

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Chavez says Russia to help Venezuela make rifles

CARACAS, Venezuela, May 30 (Reuters) - Russia will help Venezuela build plants to make Kalashnikov rifles and ammunition after the United States restricted arms sales to the South American nation, President Hugo Chavez said on Tuesday.

Chavez also told a press conference in Quito, Ecuador, that a delivery of 30,000 Kalashnikov automatic rifles was due to arrive from Russia in early June.

"The Russians are going to install a Kalashnikov rifle plant and a munitions factory. So we can defend every street, every hill, every corner," he said in remarks broadcast in Venezuela.

Washington banned all weapons sales to Chavez's leftist government this month because of U.S. concern about his ties with Cuba and Iran and what it called his inaction against guerrillas in neighboring Colombia.

The sanctions led to a diplomatic freeze with Venezuela, a major U.S. energy supplier and the world's No. 5 oil exporter.

Chavez rattled the White House earlier with a deal to buy 100,000 Russian automatic weapons.

Earlier this year, the United States expressed concern about Spain's plans to sell $1.56 billion in military ships and planes to Venezuela.

Chavez charges the United States with orchestrating a 2002 coup that briefly toppled his government and frequently accuses the United States of planning to invade Venezuela.

"The invasion plan is prepared, we even have part of this plan. They change it of course," Chavez said, although he added he was working to avoid such an attack.

Washington denies it plans to invade Venezuela and says Chavez is destabilizing the region.

Russia is the world's No. 2 oil exporter. Russia's Gazprom is exploring for natural gas in Venezuela, and Russian oil major LUKOIL says it wants to invest up to $1 billion in developing Venezuelan deposits.

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Malaysia captures 12 Islamist militants

KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 (Reuters) - Malaysian police have captured 12 Islamist militants, most of them from Indonesia, who are suspected to have planned terrorist attacks in the region, the Star newspaper said on Tuesday.

The dozen men were arrested recently after six months of police surveillance in the Malaysian state of Sabah, on Borneo island, the daily said, quoting unnamed sources.

Malaysia's police special branch were not immediately available for comment.

Indonesia, which has seen deadly terrorist attacks in Bali and Jakarta, welcomed the report on Tuesday, saying it would help weaken militant networks in the region.

"I believe this is a good sign and an important step to fight terrorism," Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda told reporters during a visit to Malaysia.

He said that Indonesian police with the cooperation of their Malaysian counterparts had arrested several people a few months ago for smuggling explosive materials from Sabah into Indonesia.

Regional police forces had been monitoring suspicious groups on Borneo island and in the southern Philippines, he added.

The Star newspaper said police had seized firearms and documents from the 12 men, including bomb-making instructions downloaded from the Internet.

The men included at least two Malaysians and had been travelling through Sabah when police nabbed them, it added.

"However, it is not immediately known what the group's targets were or when its plans would be executed," the Star said.

The men belonged Indonesia's Darul Islam movement, it added, but Wirajuda said that group had ceased to exist long ago.

"We don't have a formal organisation called Darul Islam anymore since it was defeated in the 1960s," he said in the Malaysian administrative capital of Putrajaya where he was attending a meeting of non-aligned states.

"But as an ideology, as a political orientation, it remains clandestinely upholding this aspiration for an Islamic state."

Darul Islam, which wants to establish an Islamic state in Indonesia, is seen by security experts as the well-spring of militant splinter groups like Jemaah Islamiah, which is suspected to have carried out a series of deadly bombings in Indonesia.

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China Unveils Plan For Developing Defence Tech by 2020

CCG: The Chinese government plans to enhance its capability to innovate, develop and rapidly supply new-generation weaponry over the next 15 years under a new national development program.

The outline of the development program of science and technology for national defense for 2006 to 2020 was passed by the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense at a meeting on Thursday in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province.

The outline states that national defense industry will focus on development of:

- new and high-tech weaponry;
- high-tech industries for both military and civilian purposes;
- manufacturing technologies for military industries;
- basic and frontier technologies for national defense;
- and guaranteeing technological innovation for national defense.

The outline stresses that the country will develope high and new tech weaponry to reinforce a mechanized and information-based army.

The coming 15 years will also see improvements in new technologies and their industrialization for both military and civilian use.

The program will include new and high-technologies for the space industry, aviation, ship and marine engineering, nuclear energy and fuel, and information technology for both military and civilian purposes.

The outline says that China will upgrade its defense industry with digital technology.

The program will include new and high-technologies for the space industry, aviation, ship and marine engineering, nuclear energy and fuel, and information technology for both military and civilian purposes.

Special projects to be carried out include large aircraft, pressurized water reactor and high-temperature gas-cooled reactor nuclear power stations, manned space missions and lunar probe programs

According to the outline, the program will form a team of world-class experts in the research of key basic and frontier technologies, and a guaranteeing system will be created to support the work.

The outline says that efforts should be exerted to rev up upgrading and application of industrial technologies, improve the system integration of frontier technologies, and effectively smash bottlenecks in basic technologies, which hinder the development and production of new- and high-tech weaponry.

Between 2006 and 2020, overall planning will be conducted for construction of key scientific and technological laboratories, state laboratories and major-discipline laboratories for national defense. Several centers for research and application of industrial technologies will be set up, together with basic experiment bases and large, comprehensive scientific research facilities and bases.

Meanwhile, international cooperation will be intensified on scientific and technological researches for national defense and related resources will be shared by military and civilian institutions and businesses.

Endeavors will be also centered on protection of intellectual property rights and industrialization and commercialization of research results, the outline says.

Over the past five years, China made impressive achievements in scientific and technological development for national defense, with a modern defense technology regime having taken shape.

The defense industry is a strategic sector of the state and the material and technological base for the development and production of weaponry.

China's defence budget stood at 211.7 billion yuan (26.5 billion U.S. dollars) in 2004, or 5.77 percent of that of the United States. This year China has set the annual defence budget at 283.8 billion yuan (35.1 billion U.S.dollars), up 14.5 percent over the 2005 level.

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Canada: Some citizens al-Qaida trained

TORONTO - Canada's spy agency said Monday that some Canadian citizens or residents received terror training in al-Qaida-run camps in Afghanistan, providing official reinforcement to what security analysts have warned for years.

The deputy director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Jack Hooper, told a Senate committee studying Canada's role in Afghanistan that there are people living in Canada who fought with al-Qaida during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

The Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defense held a full day of hearings on Canada's military mission in Afghanistan, and how it relates to security at home.

The hearings come as Canadians and some lawmakers voice growing concern over the deaths of Canadian soldiers serving in Afghanistan as part of a
NATO force. Parliament voted earlier this month to extend Canada's mission in Afghanistan until 2009.

Canada has about 2,000 soldiers based in Afghanistan, most of them in Kandahar.

In outlining the domestic threat, he pointed to examples of people who had lived in Canada who later took part in terrorist attacks. A common thread among them was time spent at training camps in Afghanistan.

"When we talk about the homegrown terrorist phenomenon, these are people ... in most instances who are Canadian citizens," he said. "A lot of them were born here. A lot of them who were not born here emigrated to Canada with their parents at a very young age."

Hooper did not provide any specifics on numbers of potential terrorists or their whereabouts. It also wasn't clear what the agency was doing in relation to monitoring or possibly questioning and detaining potential terrorists. Canadian Press news agency said Hooper did not respond to questions from reporters after the hearing.

"I can tell you that all of the circumstances that led to the London transit bombings ... are resident here and now in Canada," said Hooper, the service's operations director, referring to the bombings in Britain's capital that killed 52 civilians and four terrorists last July 7.

Committee chairman Sen. Colin Kenny said the attacks on Britain should serve as a wake-up call for the problems Canada could encounter with homegrown terrorists.

"They'd been born in country," Kenny said of the London bombers. "They had all of the slang and comfort with the culture that you and I have, and yet, boom, here they are committing terrorist acts."

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284 Algerian gunmen surrender

ALGIERS, Algeria, May 30 (UPI) -- Nearly 300 Algerian gunmen have surrendered to the authorities, benefiting from the pardon available to them under the National Peace and Reconciliation Pact.

The general deputy of the local court in Boumedras province, Mojarab Daoudi, said Tuesday that 284 armed Islamic militants had returned to their homes after all judicial suits against them were dropped in exchange for turning themselves over to the authorities.

Daoudi said the authorities also released 125 gunmen who were previously convicted, also in line with the pact which provides for the liberation of all former rebels who were not involved in massacres, bombings or rapes.

President Abdel Aziz Boutefliqa threatened resisting armed groups who rejected the reconciliation pact with combat if they did not surrender within the six-month grace period, due to expire in July.

The pact was endorsed by a large majority of the Algerian people at a referendum in 2005.

Government figures indicate that between 700 and 800 gunmen are still active in the rugged mountains of east Algeria. At the start of violence in the North African Arab state in 1992, the number of gunmen was estimated at more than 27,000.

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Police clash with youth in Paris suburb

PARIS(AP) - Police in a troubled Parisian suburb clashed Tuesday with dozens of young people armed with baseball bats, an incident that revived fears of more riots like those that shook the nation last year.

French media reports said seven police were injured in the melee in the town of Montfermeil, where masked youths hurled projectiles and swung bats at police officers.

A police official for the Seine-Saint-Denis region north of Paris said the clashes started late Monday night and lasted three hours before police dispersed the crowd early Tuesday.

Montfermeil is near Clichy-sous-Bois, the flashpoint for the riots late last year. Two youths were electrocuted there in October while hiding from police in a power substation, prompting violence by disenfranchised youths, many of immigrant origin, in suburbs across the country.

The riots laid bare decades of discrimination and France's failure to integrate immigrants and provide opportunities for impoverished youth.

Transport Minister Dominique Perben called the overnight incident a "reminder" of last year's riots.

"The question of the suburbs is a question for the entire political class," he said on I-tele television Tuesday morning. "We must have the courage to look things in the face."

Tension in Montfermeil has remained high since the mayor last month banned teenagers from circulating in groups of more than three, and ordered youths under 16 to be accompanied by an adult in public. A court later overturned the bans after protests from civil liberties groups.

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DOD: China fielding cyberattack units

China is stepping up its information warfare and computer network attack capabilities, according to a Defense Department report released this week.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is developing information warfare reserve and militia units and has begun incorporating them into broader exercises and training. Also, China is developing the ability to launch pre-emptive attacks against enemy computer networks in a crisis, according to the document, “Annual Report to Congress: Military Power of the People’s Republic of China 2006.”

The Chinese approach centers on using civilian computer expertise and equipment to enhance PLA operations, the DOD report states.

“During a military contingency, information warfare units could support active PLA forces by conducting ‘hacker attacks’ and network intrusions, or other forms of ‘cyber’ warfare, on an adversary’s military and commercial computer systems, while helping to defend Chinese networks,” according to the report. These units would be composed of computer experts from academies, institutes and IT industries, it states.

In 2005, the PLA began to incorporate offensive computer network operations into military exercises, with the goal of developing first strike capability, “The PLA considers active offense to be the most important requirement for information warfare to destroy or disrupt an adversary’s capability to receive and process data,” the report states.

Computer Network Operations is an important part of the Chinese strategy to achieve electromagnetic dominance in any conflict, and as a force multiplier, according to the report. The PLA seeks to combine CNO with electronic warfare, kinetic strikes against C4 nodes, and virus attacks on enemy systems, to form what PLA theorists call “Integrated Network Electronic Warfare,” it noted.

This year’s DOD report on Chinese military modernization is the latest of six annual installments. Congress mandated the annual reports in the fiscal 2000 Defense authorization bill.

China has often criticized the reports as an attempt to exaggerate its military modernization and demonize China. A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry called this year’s report an attempt to spread the China threat theory with a Cold War mentality, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

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Developments in Iraq on May 30

May 30 (Reuters) - The following are security and other developments in Iraq on Monday as of 1200 GMT.

Asterisk denotes a new or updated item.


BAGHDAD - A car bomb killed at least 25 people and wounded 65 in the northern Baghdad district of Husaniya, police said.

HILLA - A suicide bomber in a car killed at least 12 people and wounded 36 near a car dealership, police said.

BAGHDAD - A bomb killed nine people and wounded 10 others in a bakery in eastern Baghdad, police sources said.

BAGHDAD - The bodies of two marines who went missing after their helicopter crashed on Saturday in western Iraq have been recovered, the U.S. military said on Tuesday.

MOSUL - A U.S. soldier was killed by small arms fire on Monday in the northern city of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said on Tuesday.

BAGHDAD - Two women employees of the Ministry of Interior were killed and four policemen were wounded by a rocket which landed near the ministry, police said.

BAGHDAD - The bodies of three people were found in different districts of the capital, police said.

BAGHDAD - A police commando was killed and three were wounded when a roadside bomb went off near their patrol in southern Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD - The Iraqi army arrested 31 suspects on Monday from the cities of Mosul and Tal Afar, north of Baghdad. They arrested three insurgents in Baghdad, the army said on Tuesday.

BAGHDAD - The Iraqi army said it arrested an insurgent who opened fire at guards at the Ministry of Transport, the army said.

SUWAYRA - The police killed three people with suspected links to al-Qaeda in Iraq on Monday near Suwayra, south of Baghdad, police said on Tuesday.

AZIZIYA - Two people from the Mehdi Army militia run by fiery Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr were wounded on Monday night during clashes with members from the Iraqi Accordance Front, a Sunni Arab Umbrella Group, in Aziziya, a small town between Baghdad and Kut, 170 km (105 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD - Gunmen killed the preacher of a Sunni Mosque in the Shula district of the capital, police said.

SAMARRA - Gunmen killed two brothers on Monday night while they were walking in the street in the city of Samarra, 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad, the Joint Coordination Centre run by the U.S. and Iraqi military, said.

TIKRIT - The U.S. forces arrested a former major general in Saddam Hussein's army along with his three sons in Tikrit, 175 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad, the Joint Coordination Centre said.

BALAD - Gunmen kidnapped an employee of the Oil Protection Facility in Balad, 90 km (55 miles) north of Baghdad, the Joint Coordination Centre said.

TIKRIT - Gunmen wounded an Egyptian national while he was driving in his car in Tikrit, the Joint Coordination Centre said.


*ABU DHABI - The United Arab Emirates said on Tuesday that its kidnapped diplomat in Iraq, Naji al-Noaimi, was freed on Tuesday. He was kidnapped earlier this month.

BAGHDAD - Iraq's new prime minister Nuri al-Maliki threatens to use force against oil gangs in Basra, to overrule coalition allies in naming security ministers and to probe killings of civilians by U.S. troops.

BAGHDAD - A witness for Saddam Hussein appeared to dispute prosecution allegations that 148 people were executed after a failed assassination bid in 1982, telling the court on Tuesday that some of them were still alive.

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Bomb targets Greek minister's residence

ISN SECURITY WATCH (Tuesday, 30 May 2006: 16.10 CET) - A bomb exploded near the Athens residence of Greece's culture minister George Voulgarakis on Tuesday. The explosion happened days after Pakistani immigrants filed charges against him for abduction.

No one was injured in the blast and the minister was not home at the time, though the residence and several vehicles were damaged, according to news reports.

The bomb was placed under a car about 70 meters from his house and detonated by a timer.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blast.

On 12 May, Greek prosecutors filed charges against unidentified suspects in connection with the alleged abduction of 28 Pakistanis in Greece in the wake of the July 2005 bombings in London.

A week later, three of the Pakistani immigrants who claim they had been kidnapped filed a criminal lawsuit against Voulgarakis, who was the public order minister at the time of the alleged abductions.

The three men have accused Voulgarakis of instigating the alleged abductions, shielding guilty parties, and lying in parliament about the incident.

Prosecutor Nikos Degaitis filed criminal abduction charges against "unknown persons" for illegally kidnapping at least ten Pakistanis last July in the wake of the attacks on London's transportation system last July.

Fifteen of the 28 Pakistani men who claim they were abducted have filed official complaints, according to news reports.

Voulgarakis called the matter a "provocation or farce".

The prosecution has not been able to find evidence that foreign intelligence agents were involved in the alleged abductions, and a British secret agent who is alleged to have participated in the kidnappings may not be questioned because of diplomatic immunity.

Britain's MI6 station chief in Athens was recalled to London after a Greek newspaper named him as one of the alleged kidnappers and claimed that he had been present during the alleged interrogation of the Pakistani men.

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Monday, May 29, 2006


Mogadishu, 29 May (AKI) - The provisional Somali cabinet confirmed on Monday a report that terror network al-Qaida has recruitment centres in the capital Mogadishu, Kuwaiti news agency KUNA reported on Monday. Palestinian magazine al-Manar claimed, citing anonymous sources, that Islamic militants arrive in the capital from all over the country to join al-Qaeda. The militants are reportedly first recruited by a local network linked to Osama bin Laden's organisation before training in Mogadishu. US secret service agents are in Somalia to monitor the recruitment centres, the Palestinian magazine also said.

Somalia has been without an effective central government since President Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991. Today's administration, the 14th attempt to establish a cabinet since 1991, has no civil service or government buildings and faces a formidable task in attempting to bring reconciliation to a country divided into clan fiefdoms.

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Pentagon pushes for rapid strike weapon

ISN SECURITY WATCH (Monday, 29 May 2006: 16.17 CET) – The Pentagon is pressing the US Congress to approve the development of a new weapon capable of striking distant targets, the International Herald Tribune (IHT) reported Monday.

The Pentagon proposal calls for the deployment of a non-nuclear version of the submarine-launched Trident II missile.

The missile would be used to attack enemy missile sites, suspected biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons facilities and enemy missile sites, military officials told the IHT.

The head of the US Strategic Command, General James Cartwright, said the weapons system would enhance the US military's ability to "pre-empt conventionally" with great accuracy while limiting "collateral damage".

The IHT reports that development of the missile system would cost an estimated half a billion dollars over five years.

The Pentagon has asked congress for US$127 million to make a start on the program but has run into opposition from legislators who fear that the weapon could increase the risk of an accidental nuclear confrontation.

The Trident II has long been fitted with a nuclear warhead, and the Pentagon has confirmed that both nuclear and non-nuclear Trident II missiles would be carried on the same submarines.

A Senate Armed Services Committee member, Senator John Reed, told the IHT: "There is great concern this could be destabilizing in terms of deterrence and nuclear policy […] It would be hard to determine if a missile coming out [of] a Trident submarine is conventional or nuclear."

Legislators are demanding that the White House present proposals for mitigating attendant risks before approving the funding allocation.

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EU Parliamentary group condemns Iran’s “terror attack” in Iraq

Iran Focus

London, May 29 – A European Parliamentary group condemned on Monday an attack earlier in the day on a passenger bus in Iraq which left more than a dozen killed and at least 15 wounded.

On Monday, a bus transporting Iraqi workers from the town of al-Khalis, northeast of Baghdad, to Ashraf City, the main base of the Iranian opposition People Mojahedin (PMOI/MeK), was targeted by a roadside explosive device killing 13 people and wounding 15 others, according to a statement by the Friends of a Free Iran.

“This terrorist attack comes in the wake of several threats made by the Iranian regime on the Iraqi authorities regarding the presence of the PMOI in Iraq and has all the characteristics of the recurrent terrorist attacks masterminded by the Iranian regime in Iraq”, the statement said, highlighting that the attack was carried out just one day after Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki visited Iraq.

The EU parliamentary group expressed its condolences to the Iraqi authorities, the MeK, the people of al-Khalis, and the families of the victims of the attack.

It urged the European authorities to press the Iranian regime to “step down its policy of promoting terrorism in Iraq” and called on the Iraqi government to grant political asylum to members of the MeK in Ashraf City.

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Developments in Iraq on May 29

May 29 (Reuters) - The following are security and other developments in Iraq on Monday as of 1730 GMT.

Asterisk denotes a new or updated item.


*DHULUIYA - U.S.-led and Iraqi forces scuttled 32 boats to prevent insurgents from using them to move men and supplies across the River Tigris near the city of Dhuluiya, scene of recent clashes, the U.S. military said.

BAGHDAD - Two British journalists working for U.S. television network CBS, cameraman Paul Douglas, 48, and soundman James Brolan, 42, were killed in Baghdad when a roadside bomb destroyed the U.S. military vehicle they were travelling in.

American correspondent Kimberly Dozier, 39, was wounded and in a critical condition, CBS said in a statement.

A U.S. soldier and Iraqi contractor were also killed.

KHALIS - A bomb apparently planted in a bus killed 11 Iraqis travelling to work at the base of an Iranian exiled opposition near the town of Khalis, about 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad on Monday, police said.

The Iranian group, the People's Mujahideen Organisation (MKO), accused Tehran of being behind the attack and also blamed its Shi'ite Islamist allies running the new Iraqi government, noting that Iran's foreign minister was in Baghdad last week.

BAGHDAD - At least eight people were killed and nine were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded in the Shi'ite Kadhimiya district of northwestern Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD - Twelve people were killed and 24 were wounded when a car bomb targeting an Iraqi army patrol detonated in Adhamiya district, northern Baghdad, police said. Most of the victims were students from a nearby university.

RAMADI - U.S.-led forces killed three insurgents as they tried to plant roadside bombs near the city of Ramadi on Sunday, 110 km (68 miles) west of Baghdad, the U.S. military said on Monday.

FALLUJA - A roadside bomb killed a policemen and wounded two soldiers near Falluja, police said.

BAGHDAD - A car bomb exploded near the Abu Hanifa Sunni mosque in Adhamiya, northern Baghdad, killing five people and wounding seven, police said. Following the attack, clashes erupted between insurgents and the Iraqi army in the area.

BAGHDAD - A car bomb targeting a police patrol exploded in Karrada district, central Baghdad, killing one person and wounding four people, police said.

BAGHDAD - Gunmen shot at a police patrol in the Yarmouk district, west-central Baghdad, killing three policemen, a police source said.

BAGHDAD - A roadside bomb exploded in the central Karrada district of the capital, killing one person and wounding two others.

BAGHDAD - One person was killed and two others wounded when a roadside bomb went off near a minibus in southwestern Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD - One policeman was killed and two others were wounded when a roadside bomb went off near their patrol in central Baghdad, police said.

NEAR DUJAIL - Gunmen opened fire at an army checkpoint on Saturday, killing one soldier and wounding two others near the town of Dujail, 90 km north of Baghdad, the U.S/Iraqi Joint Coordination Centre said on Sunday.

BASRA - Two British soldiers have been killed in a suspected road side bomb attack in Basra, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence in London said on Monday. The incident occurred on Sunday evening.


BAGHDAD - Iraq's parliament discussed the security situation in the southern city of Basra and in the town of Dhuluiya north of Baghdad. Members of parliament voted to form a committee to deal with the deteriorating security situation.

BAGHDAD - Senior figures in Saddam Hussein's ousted government testified for the defence as the trial for crimes against humanity resumed, including two of his former interior ministers.

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Pro-govt tribesman killed in Pakistan's Waziristan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, May 28 (Reuters) - Suspected Islamist militants shot dead a pro-government tribal chief in Pakistan's restive North Waziristan region on Sunday, officials said.

Five masked men attacked and killed Malik Takhti Khan Bakakhel in the main market of Mir Ali town in an area where security forces are fighting al Qaeda militants and their Taliban allies.

Bakakhel backed the government's efforts to flush out foreign militants in the region that straddles with Afghanistan, local administration official, Mohammad Fida Khan, said.

"He had very strong links with government and that's why he was killed," Khan told Reuters.

A number of government officials and tribal elders have been killed in Waziristan in recent years for supporting the government or over suspicions of acting as informers for U.S. forces operating across the border in Afghanistan. Many al Qaeda and Taliban militants fled to Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal region after they were chased out of Afghanistan by U.S.-backed forces in 2001.

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Israeli jets, artillery bombard Lebanon border area

BEIRUT, May 28 (Reuters) - Israeli jets and artillery bombarded southern Lebanese border areas on Sunday and its forces exchanged fire with Hizbollah guerrillas.

The Israeli army ordered residents living in northern areas to head for bomb shelters.

Israeli planes also attacked two bases run by a Syrian-backed Palestinian faction in Lebanon, killing one Palestinian fighter, hours after rockets fired into northern Israel wounded an Israeli soldier. Lebanese witnesses said areas near Rmeish, Aita, Yaroun, Mais al-Jabal and Ghajar, towns along different parts of the Lebanese border with Israel, were hit by Israeli aircraft.

The Israeli army said it fired aircraft and artillery rounds at suspected Hizbollah positions in southern Lebanon.

Israel's orders to its residents followed a gun battle between Hizbollah guerrillas and Israeli soldiers near Kibbutz Menara and mortar and rocket fire into northern Israel, Israeli security sources said.

Hizbollah guerrillas also exchanged fire with Israeli forces in the disputed Shebaa Farms border area, witnesses and security sources said.

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ALO news/statements

Ahwaz Liberation Organization news/statements recieved.

القسم الثقافي والإعــــلام

29/ مايس/2006

يوم الأربعاء الأسود نقطة سوداء في جبين حكام طهران القتلة

يوم 29/مايس/1979 يوم الأربعاء الأسود يوم المذبحة الوحشية التي ارتكبها حرس الخميني بأمر وتخطيط منه وبتنفيذ من كلبيه المفترسين الوحشيين حجة الإسلام والمسلمين المقبور صادق خلخالي والمفترس الوحشي المجرم الأميرال أحمد مدني الحاكم العسكري المفروض في الأحواز والذي اسماه الخميني ( عينه اليمنى) أي عين العجوز الخرف الخميني اليمنى المفقوسة والذي ذهب ضحية هذا الهجوم الوحشي في مدينة المحمرة حوالي ألفي شهيد بينهم من الأطفال والنساء والمئات من الأسرى والجرحى التي أعدمتهم سلطات الاحتلال الايراني فيما بعد.

ففي مثل هذا اليوم وبهجوم وحشي تتري استهدفت قوات الاحتلال الايراني الأبرياء العزل من البر والبحر بالأسلحة الرشاشة والآلية وبسماح ومخطط من عجوز جماران داخل البيوت وفي الشوارع وابتدأت المذبحة وكأنما فتحت طاقة الجحيم لتخرج لهبا يحرق الأجساد, فاختلطت اصوات الطلقات النارية من مختلف العيارات اختلطت ببكاء الاطفال وعويل النساء وبتأهوات الرجال المكبوتة وهم يقتلون وأصوات الجرافات العملاقة وهي تهد البيوت فوق أهلها ولتحفر المقابر الجماعية واحمرت شوارع مدينة المحمرة الصامدة بدماء المواطنين الأحوازيين وامتلأ نهر كارون بأجساد الشهداء. ومجموعات من الشباب الذين قد صفوا على الحائط وتم حصدهم بالرشاشات الإسلامية, وتلك عن امرأة احوازية تحتضن ابنها ولم تتركه حتى بعد أن قتلت وهي تحاول الهرب فسقطت على الأرض ولم تترك وليدها لتأخذه معها إلى السماء.

وصورة أخرى جثث احوازيين آخرين بعد أن قتلوا ومثلوا بهم بمقص وذبحوا من الوريد إلى الوريد وكأنما لم يكن الرصاص بكاف ليعطي وحوش الخميني النشوة الكاملة في القتل فاعملوا بأجساد الشهداء تشويها. وهناك الأطفال الأبرياء وهم واقفين أمام أبواب بيوتهم ينظرون ولا يعرفون بطفولتهم البريئة حقيقة ما ينظرون إليه وهم يشاهدون الصحائف التي تمر أمام أعينهم ولا يدركون مغزى تلك الصحائف أضدادا متناقضة وأشباها مختلفة, مجموعات من الناس من نساء ورجال وشيوخ واطفال تتراكض هاربة على وجوهها يبدو الخوف ومن عيونها يتطاير الرعب والهلع يتعقبها صفوف ثانية من نفس الناس ولكن وجوهها تحمل الحقد الدفين والانتقام والتشفي ويتطاير من عيونها الشرر وحب القتل ورغبة رعناء حيوانية لسفك الدماء تنطلق من أياديها في كل رعشة مئات الطلقات من الرصاص تحصد ما تلحقه من أفراد المجموعات الإولى ويتساقط الناس أمامهم غرقى بالدماء يتصارخون وتفيض نفوسهم إلى السماء .

ويذكرنا الطفل الرضيع الشهيد منتظرالكعبي شهيد حي الثورة ابن الأربعين يوما يذكرنا بالطفل الشهيد فرزان شهيد يوم الأربعاء الأسود في المحمرة الذي عندما كان واقف أمام بيته ببراءة الطفل وبعفوية الجاهل يضحك فرزان وبنفس البراءة وبنفس العفوية ينخرط بالبكاء وتمر عليه مجموعة من صنف وحوش الخميني ولا تسرهم ضحكته ثم تغضبهم دموعه الساخنة المتساقطة على خديه ويلتفت واحد من القتلة ويصوب فوهة بندقيته الرشاشة ليزرع رصاصها في جسم الطفل البريء لكونه طفل احوازي ويتضاحك المجرمون وهناك في طهران في حظيرة (حسينية) جماران يهتز الوحش الخميني من الضحك لأن طفلا عربيا احوازيا قتل وسفكت دماءه بسلاح حرسه الإسلامي... فالعار والشنار لكم يا قتلة الأطفال والنساء والعزل.

وبالرغم من كل ذلك نرى اليوم أن شعبنا الصامد ونخص منه الشباب بالذكر وهم يجاهدون جهاد الأبطال المناضلين ضد هذا العدوان, فالشباب الأحوازي كان ما يزال هو شعلة الانتفاضة التي تشع النور فتضي من حولها وهو الذي يجيش صدره بالحماس وعلى أكتافه يحمل أعباء المسؤولية ورسالة الحرية والثورة التي يأب الشباب... كل الشباب إلا أن يكتبها بمداد من دمه مستلهما في جهاده وحي صدره وفي استشهاده تراب قبره فهو مؤمن كل الإيمان أن شعبه مجيد وعريق في أصالته, لذا فهو يستحق النضال والتضحية والاستشهاد في سبيل حريته واستقلاله لأنه جدير بذلك وجدير بأن يحيى الحياة الحرة الكريمة.

فأصبحت بعد ذلك رسالة الثورة هي رسالة جيلنا الشاب, فيتلقى رصاص العداء صامدا مجاهدا وهو يهتف....مرحبة بالثورة ضد هذا العدوان فهي سبيل الخلاص وهي السبيل إلى الانتصار, أروع الانتصار.

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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Clinton Administration Knew of Secret North Korean Uranium-Based Weapons Program, Experts Say

The Clinton administration knew North Korea was developing a uranium-based nuclear weapons program, even though it had pledged in 1994 to give up all nuclear work in exchange for two light-water reactors provided by a U.S.-led international consortium, experts said this week (see GSN, May 25).

The Bush administration in 2002 presented evidence to North Korea on the secret uranium program. Pyongyang denied the charge, and the dispute undid the 1994 Agreed Framework, under which Pyongyang had agreed to freeze its nuclear activities in return for the light-water reactors and other aid. North Korea subsequently expelled international inspectors and withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

The Clinton administration probably was aware of the North Korean program, according David Albright, president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security.

“What alarmed the Bush administration was when they started seeing procurement for thousands of centrifuges,” Albright said. “That’s what qualitatively changed the situation.”

Robert Gallucci, the top U.S. negotiator of the 1994 deal, confirmed the Clinton administration’s knowledge of the uranium program earlier this week.

“The Clinton administration concluded ... that North Korea cheated on the Agreed Framework, that getting gas centrifuge components from Pakistan was inconsistent with the framework,” he said (Lee Dong-min, Yonhap News Agency I, May 25).

South Korea and the United States today reaffirmed their support for the six-party talks aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programs, Agence France-Presse reported.

Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, the lead U.S. negotiator for the stalled talks, said Washington “takes very seriously the six-way talks process” following a meeting in Seoul with Chun Yung-woo, South Korea’s top envoy.

Chun said North Korea should resume negotiations without expectation that such action alone would result in rewards.

“There is no other way but North Korea making up its mind and returning to the talks,” he said.

Chun said he and Hill were preparing ways to “prevent the negotiation from lapsing back into a stalemate once they resume in the future” (Agence France-Presse/Yahoo!News, May 26).

Experts at the International Institute of Strategic Studies said yesterday that North Korea’s reported preparations for a missile launch is likely a pressure tactic, Yonhap reported.

“Reported activity at a test site for the long-range Taepodong missile may be North Korea’s way of sending a reminder that it has its own ways to increase pressure,” the think tank said in a report.

“Pyongyang judges that the Bush administration is not serious about negotiations and that the financial controls are evidence of hostile intent,” the report says, referring to Washington’s financial crackdown on Pyongyang’s alleged money laundering, smuggling and other illicit operations.

The report adds that neither side believes the other willing to make concessions necessary for resolution of the nuclear standoff.

“The Bush administration sees financial sanctions, and an increasing emphasis on human rights in North Korea, as justifiable in their own right,” it says (Yonhap News Agency II, May 25).

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A byzantine plot in Turkey

Turks are giving second thought to the reported reasons why an alleged islamist gunned down a judge earlier this month.

By Nicolas Birch for Eurasianet (26/05/06)

When a gunman killed a judge in Turkey’s highest administrative court in mid May, it looked like a cut-and-dried case of religious terrorism. Now, the certainty that propelled tens of thousands of Turks to protest what they saw as an Islamist assault on the country’s secularist system has evaporated.

Initially after the 17 May incident - in which Council of State judge Mustafa Ozbilgin died, and four other judges were wounded - the accused gunman, Alparslan Arslan, was depicted as a religious radical. After being taken into custody, Arslan reportedly said his actions were motivated by a desire to "punish" the judges for a February ruling upholding a ban on women wearing the Islamic headscarfs in public institutions.

In recent days, however, investigations have been unable to provide convincing evidence in support of the contention that Arslan is an Islamist. Even the widely-reported claim that he shouted "Allah is great" before opening fire has been refuted by one of the four judges wounded in the attack.

Turkish media are now revising their portrait of Arslan, painting him instead as a man steeped in the violent world of ultra-right-wing nationalism since his days as an Istanbul law student. Judging by the 17 men police are questioning in connection with the shooting, Arslan also has friends in patriotic places. Most of the suspects are small-time organized crime figures, and at least one man claims he received money for his work. But media attention has focused largely on Muzaffer Tekin, a former army captain whose CV reads like an encyclopedia of Turkey’s shadowy anti-democratic opposition.

Suspected by police of being the gang’s mastermind, Tekin’s links with some of Turkey’s more notorious organized crime bosses have made headlines for days. For skeptics, his arrest after an apparent suicide bid dispelled all notions of an Islamist plot. Two other individuals besides Arslan and Tekin are now in custody in connection with the shooting incident, and Turks have begun to suspect the involvement of the so-called "deep state".

The phrase is shorthand for ultra-nationalist elements close to the security forces willing to take the law into their own hands to defend what they see as Turkey’s best interests. "We know the murderer’s identity", columnist Ergun Babahan wrote in the mass-market daily Sabah on 23 May. "Whenever there is an increase in demands for democracy, freedom and justice, his signature is on acts designed to frighten people back into the authorities’ arms."

After decades spent watching the state cover up its relations with the criminal underworld, few Turks expect police to get to the bottom of Ozbilgin’s murder. But it hasn’t escaped the attention of most Turks that the attack did considerable political damage to the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP). Accused by secularists and pro-establishment media of encouraging Islamic extremism with their religious-minded brand of politics, several ministers were physically attacked by crowds as they tried to attend the judge’s 19 May funeral. The next day, Turkey’s normally mild-mannered army chief, Gen. Hilmi Ozkok, called on the public to maintain protests, drawing a swift condemnation from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

During a meeting of the AKP parliamentary faction on 24 May, Erdogan said that the "bloody conspiracy, behind which stands a gang of traitors, targeted economic and political stability, as well as democracy," according to the Zaman Online web site.

Relations between the AKP government and staunchly secular elements of the state apparatus have never been warm. Many members of the judiciary and army believe that the AKP’s fast-fading, pro-European reformism is a ploy aimed at weakening Turkey’s secularist tradition.

Recent comments by AKP members about the need to rethink Turkish secularism have generated considerable controversy. But commentators say the main reason that staunch secularists want to send the present government packing is connected with the upcoming rotation of the country’s presidency. The term of the incumbent, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, is set to expire in May 2007. Some believe Erdogan is angling to succeed Sezer.

Though largely ceremonial, the president is seen as the figurehead of Turkey’s secular state. Veteran commentator Mehmet Ali Birand has no doubt the killing of the judge was a veiled warning to the AKP. "Something’s become very clear: a secular lobby will not let Erdogan get the presidency," he says. "If he tries, it will be as bloody as we have witnessed."

For months, opponents of the government have been calling on it to take the country to early elections. Now, some of their supporters are joining in. A political analyst sympathetic to the AKP, Cengiz Candar points out the growing signs of stress in Turkey’s economy. "To ward off more tension and potentially even worse crises ahead," he wrote in the daily Bugun on 24 May, "the public must be asked its opinion."

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Explosion, clashes in Pakistani tribal agency kill two people

ISLAMABAD, May 27 (KUNA) -- At least two persons were killed and three others were wounded Saturday in clashes between two rival groups and a bomb explosion in a women college in Pakistani tribal agency of South Waziristan, bordering Afghanistan, said official sources.

The clashes between two armed groups over land dispute near Wana, the main headquarters of the agency, killed two persons and wounded two others, the sources told KUNA. They feared increase of the death toll.

Meanwhile, a time bomb went off in a building under construction of a government women degree college in Wana, they said.

They said the explosion poked down skeleton of the building, adding that it also wounded a worker. (end) amn.

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Militants blow up ladies health center, kill US spy in Pakistani tribal belt

ISLAMABAD, May 26 (KUNA) -- Suspected Taliban militants Friday blew up a ladies health center and shot dead a trader, accused of spying for the US troops in Afghanistan, said security officials.

The ladies health center was blown up in Hamzoni district of North Waziristan tribal agency, officials told KUNA.

However, they said there were no casualties as at the time of explosion, no body was in the center. "The explosion badly damaged the center building", they added.

Meanwhile, militants shot to death a local carpet trader in the main market of Miramshah, the regional headquarters, for spying on them for the US troops, officials said further.

Militants in last two weeks have killed at least five US spies in the agency.

In a related incident, militants damaged a vehicle of local Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) near Miramshah, officials said.

They added that the driver received serious injuries but is said to be in stable condition.

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Hugo Chavez visits Bolivian coca region

SHINAHOTA, Bolivia - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who often accuses the U.S. of plotting to overthrow him, warned Bolivia's president Friday he could be facing the same prospect.

Chavez spoke during a visit to the heart of Bolivia's coca-growing region with Bolivian leader Evo Morales and Cuban Vice President Carlos Lage — a trip designed to bolster trade ties among three leftist governments.

Chavez responded to
President Bush's comment Monday that he was "concerned about the erosion of democracy" in Bolivia and Venezuela.

"If the U.S. president says he's worried the democracy is eroding in Bolivia, this simply means that he's already given the green light to start conspiring against the democratic government of Bolivia," said Chavez, dressed in a traditional Bolivian poncho and wooly hat with Morales and Cuban Vice president Carlos Lage at his side.

"You have to tell this gentleman that democracy is being reborn in Bolivia and Venezuela, that they're now creating their own laws and not the laws (the United States) wants to impose," he added.

Chavez, an ally of Cuba's
Fidel Castro, has repeatedly accused the United States of trying to overthrow him to seize his country's vast oil reserves. U.S. officials have denied that and accused him of being a threat to democracies in the region.

Bush has expressed concern about a growing Venezuelan-Cuban-Bolivian partnership, and on Monday tacitly sided with the governments of Peru and Nicaragua, which have accused Chavez of interfering in their presidential elections. The U.S. imposed a ban last week on arms sales to Venezuela because of what it says is a lack of support by Chavez's government for counterterrorism efforts.

Bolivia recently nationalized its natural gas industry and the U.S. is concerned such policies discourage foreign investment and curb the region's enthusiasm for signing trade pacts with the United States.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Janelle Hironimus responded to Chavez's remarks by saying: "We don't have any plans to overthrow the Bolivian government."

Morales has called his alliance with Cuba and Venezuela an "axis of good" and refers to Chavez as a "tutor." He recently signed their "Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas," a trade pact based on socialist principles, and criticizes the U.S. trade deals other Latin American countries are signing.

"If some countries want to be subordinated by free trade agreements, there will never be Latin American integration, and for that, it's important to liberate ourselves, liberate the people," Morales told thousands of Bolivians gathered in Shinahota, 370 miles southeast of the Bolivian capital of La Paz.

The crowd, mostly coca leaf farmers, witnessed Morales, Chavez and Lage seal a close alliance and celebrate new economic accords between Venezuela and Bolivia.

Chavez has already pledged more than $140 million in donations and loans to Bolivia. Morales and Chavez also are creating a joint mining company.

But Bolivia's huge natural gas reserves are the real prize, and Morales clearly needs outside help.

Negotiations with a half-dozen foreign energy firms have been slow since Morales nationalized the natural gas industry earlier this month. Bolivia's cash-strapped state energy company won't be able to extract and profit from this resource without major new investments.

Venezuela's oil minister, Rafael Ramirez, has confirmed plans to invest $500 million in the short term for a gas processing plant, and up to $1.5 billion long term in Bolivia's gas industry.

Now Chavez is promising to make Venezuela's state-owned energy firm, Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, a minority partner with Bolivia not only to build the plant but also to explore for gas and certify Bolivia's reserves.

Bolivia — South America's poorest nation — has long been dependent on foreign aid.

The United States remains Bolivia's largest donor, giving about $150 million annually. But much of the money is tied to the war on drugs, which Morales has said unfairly targets poor farmers of coca leaf — the raw ingredient for cocaine — and gives the Washington too much sway with Bolivia's military.

Morales brought Chavez and Lage on Friday to the Chapare region where he rose to power leading the coca farmer's union. It is also where farmers led by Morales have clashed with Washington-backed Bolivian troops sent to eradicate plants used for cocaine production.

Chavez is supporting Morales' call to legalize and industrialize the coca leaf by offering Bolivia $1 million to research the uses of coca and to build factories to process coca flour or tea.


Associated Press Writer Fiona Smith contributed to this report from La Paz.

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