- The Washington Times - Friday, February 23, 2001

Spain captures Basque terrorist

MADRID The suspected military chief of the Basque separatist group ETA, who was one of Spain's most wanted fugitives, was captured in southern France yesterday just hours after a car bomb killed two persons in Spain's Basque region.
Francisco Xabier Garcia Gaztelu, who was seized by French police in the town of Anglet, was believed to have ordered yesterday's bombing in the Basque coastal city of San Sebastian, Spanish state radio reported.
It was the second fatal attack linked to ETA this year, bringing to 26 the number of killings it has been accused of carrying out since it called off a 14-month cease-fire in December 1999.

Ecuador protesters seize oil wells

QUITO, Ecuador Protesters seized control of oil wells in Ecuador's crude-rich Amazon provinces yesterday in an escalation of demands for government aid to combat poverty and protect peasants from Colombian rebels crossing the border.
Television reports showed roads blocked throughout jungle provinces of Sucumbios and Orellana, two of the poorest in this Andean nation of 12.4 million people.
According to an oil industry source who requested anonymity, eight state-owned oil stations in the Amazon are in the hands of some 800 demonstrators.

Elephant flattens Moscow trainer

MOSCOW An elephant crushed its trainer to death after a performance at a Moscow theater, employees said yesterday.
Two employees at Durov's Little Corner, a small animal theater named after a famous family of circus performers, said trainer Alexander Terekhov had been crushed to death in the elephant's pen after the evening performance.

Belarusian leader warms to U.S.

MINSK, Belarus Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko was quoted as saying yesterday he wanted to improve ties with the United States, which last year dismissed a parliamentary election in the former Soviet republic as neither free nor fair.
The Belarusian leader has been shunned by the West since a referendum in 1996 in which he extended his presidential term and dissolved parliament. Western groups have criticized him for eroding human rights in the country of about 10.5 million people.
Interfax news agency quoted Mr. Lukashenko as telling U.S. Ambassador Michael Kozak he wanted to improve ties, which had worsened since his election in 1994.

German pilot claims speed record

BERLIN A former Luftwaffe pilot says he broke the sound barrier first not Chuck Yeager, but the German's claim cannot be verified, at least not yet.
Flying alone over Austria on April 9, 1945, at the end of World War II, Hans Guido Mutke pushed his Messerschmitt 262 to full throttle in hopes of reaching a friend who had bailed out under U.S. attack.
Mr. Mutke says he later realized the shaking and loss of control he felt before the plane reached 690 mph meant he had broken the sound barrier.
"I knew nothing about a sound barrier," he said yesterday from Munich. "I just went full speed to help a comrade."
Now age 79 and a retired doctor, Mr. Mutke has asked an aeronautics professor to help substantiate his claim using computer simulation.
By all accepted accounts, on Oct. 14, 1947, Mr. Yeager was the first human to break the sound barrier when he flew his rocket-powered X-1 over Rogers Dry Lake in southern California.

India extends cease-fire

NEW DELHI India extended its unilateral cease-fire against Islamic separatists in Kashmir for another three months to give peace efforts another chance, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said yesterday.
Mr. Vajpayee ordered a three-month cease-fire in the disputed Himalayan region Nov. 28 to coincide with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Pullback timetable for Congo outlined

NEW YORK The U.N. Security Council set a new timetable yesterday for the warring sides in Congo to pull back troops from front lines and for U.N. observers to verify their departure.
In a resolution negotiated with the fighting factions, the council demanded that the forces start an initial nine-mile pullback by March 15, and to prepare a plan for their complete withdrawal from Congo by May 15.
Around that time, the council may send a delegation to the region to discuss the next steps.
The resolution was unanimously adopted at the end of a two-day meeting of the council, ministers of the six warring countries and representatives of Congo's three main rebel groups involved in the conflict.

Albright criticizes Cuba policy curbs

Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright says President Bush would be unable to respond to creative change in Cuba because U.S. law prevents him from doing anything "until a near-perfect democracy was in place."

Mrs. Albright made the comments this week at the Organization of American States, which made a copy of her speech available yesterday.

Her remarks were directed at congressional action in recent years that prevents the executive branch from making changes in the U.S. embargo against Cuba or altering the rules governing travel by Americans to Cuba.

Current law regarding Cuba, Albright said, "is a prescription for paralysis."

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