- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 15, 2003

Powell backs abstinence in battle against AIDS

LONDON — U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said yesterday that U.S. funds of as much as $15 billion to combat AIDS would include spending on education to foster sexual abstinence in polygamous African societies.

Speaking to CNN, Mr. Powell also said Washington is working closely with drug companies and the United Nations to bring down the costs of antiretroviral treatments sought by millions of those with HIV in poor countries.

On May 27 President Bush signed into law a $15 billion plan to help combat AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean, tripling U.S. spending on the disease during the next five years.

LIBERIA

U.S. forces sent for evacuation

The U.S. amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge was ordered to the West African coast for a possible evacuation of American citizens from strife-torn Liberia, the Pentagon says.

The Navy said in a statement on its Web site that the Kearsarge, which is based in Norfolk “has been directed to join forces in support of Operation Shining Express, to aid in the potential evacuation of U.S. citizens from the country of Liberia.”

Diverted from its return voyage home after action in Iraq, the Kearsarge and its force of 3,000 Marines and sailors, and attack helicopters was cruising in waters near the Liberian capital of Monrovia, according to media reports.

ZIMBABWE

Mugabe mocks detained rival

HARARE — President Robert Mugabe has mocked detained opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai as a puppet of the West, saying he deserved to be jailed for calling mass protests intended to oust the president.

State media reported yesterday that Mr. Mugabe said at a rally of his ruling Zimbabwe Africa National Union Patriotic Front Friday that Mr. Tsvangirai had been ill-advised in organizing opposition.

Mr. Tsvangirai, who leads the Movement for Democratic Change, was arrested June 6 and charged with treason, for a second time, after the MDC organized a week of protests as a “final push” against Mr. Mugabe.

SAUDI ARABIA

Crackdown continues on Muslim extremists

RIYADH — At least five more suspects have been arrested in connection with last month’s suicide bombings at Western residential compounds in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s interior minister said in remarks published yesterday.

One of the five might have had a “main role” in the attacks, which killed 26 persons, including eight Americans, Prince Naif told the Saudi daily Al-Riyadh. Nine attackers were also killed.

Prince Naif said at least 30 persons have been linked to the bombings, including people in custody and 12 who died during or after the attacks.

SRI LANKA

Tiger ship explodes in battle with navy

COLOMBO — A Tamil Tiger rebel ship exploded and sank yesterday during a standoff with a Sri Lankan navy patrol off the northeastern port town of Trincomalee, military officials and rebel sources said.

All 12 rebel crew members jumped off the vessel moments before the explosion, rebel sources said. It was not clear what caused the blast.

Both the rebels and the government had been observing a cease-fire signed in February 2002 to end 19 years of fighting, and navy patrols in the area seek to prevent the rebels from smuggling in weapons.

NIGERIA

Al Qaeda said to be targeting country

LAGOS — Nigeria faces a real threat of terror attack from Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network, the U.S. ambassador to the West African nation was quoted by a newspaper as saying yesterday.

Ambassador Howard Jeter said in an interview with the independent newspaper Saturday Punch that Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, is an al Qaeda target because of its close ties with the United States.

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