- The Washington Times - Monday, December 3, 2001

Swiss citizens reject anti-military referendum
GENEVA Swiss citizens yesterday rejected a proposal to scrap the country's armed forces, cherished by many as vital protection for the small, neutral Alpine country in the heart of Europe.
The proposal was put forward by a coalition called Switzerland Without an Army under a law that allows anyone to force a referendum by collecting 100,000 signatures from voters. Of those participating, 384,991 persons, or 21.9 percent, voted in favor of the initiative.
The plan would have added the phrase "Switzerland has no army" to the federal constitution, going on to say that the country's national security policy is built around reducing the injustices that lead to conflicts, both within the country and abroad.

Military plane crashes in Russian far east
MOSCOW A military cargo plane with 18 persons on board caught fire and crashed yesterday in the far east of Russia while attempting an emergency landing, officials said.
A rescue helicopter was sent to the site of the Il-76 airplane crash, but found no survivors before having to give up the search when night fell, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.
The pilot reported a fire on board at an altitude of 29,000 feet. He said he was preparing for an emergency landing when radio contact with the aircraft broke and the plane disappeared from radar screens, the report said.
The plane fell apart when it attempted to make an emergency landing near Novaya Inya, a village about 65 miles east of Okhotsk in the far east, the Interfax news agency said.

Turkey eases objection to EU defense force
ISTANBUL Turkey said yesterday talks with British and U.S. officials last week had paved the way toward ending a standoff concerning EU plans for a rapid-reaction force.
The European Union is set to declare the first elements of the force at a summit of leaders in Brussels later this month.
EU candidate Turkey holds a veto on the force's automatic use of NATO assets, and has demanded a guaranteed right to join EU-only operations when they do not involve NATO as a whole.
Diplomats said British Foreign Office officials assured Ankara in the three-way talks that the 60,000-strong NATO force, due to be operational by mid-2003, would not be used in any crisis involving Cyprus or the Aegean Sea.

Religious violence flares on Sulawesi island
JAKARTA, Indonesia Dozens of houses were torched and four soldiers were shot yesterday in fighting between Muslims and Christians on Sulawesi island, witnesses and hospital officials said.
The clashes cap a week of sectarian violence that has killed at least seven and caused thousands to flee their homes. Fighting between Muslim and Christian villagers on the island has killed nearly 1,000 people in the past two years.
The violence has been blamed on the arrival of hundreds of fighters belonging to the Laskar Jihad, a paramilitary Muslim group. accused of stoking a sectarian conflict in neighboring Maluku province.
About 9,000 have died in Maluku since 1999.

First black candidate seeks French presidency
PARIS A far-left party has made Christiane Taubira, a female politician from French-ruled Guyana in South America, the first black candidate to run for president of France.
The nomination for the 2002 race "is especially a victory for all those who, throughout history and across the world, fight for the values in which I believe: fraternity, solidarity and the equality of different cultures," Miss Taubira said in an interview on French radio.
Prime Minister Lionel Jospin is seen as the main challenger to President Jacques Chirac in the elections expected next spring. Miss Taubira's party is part of Mr. Jospin's ruling leftist coalition.

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