- The Washington Times - Friday, December 24, 2004

SRI LANKA

Tamil Tigers spurn peace talk proposal

COLOMBO — Tamil Tiger rebels have rejected Sri Lanka’s latest proposal to revive peace negotiations despite international pressure to save the Norwegian-backed initiative, Tamil sources said Thursday.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) told Tamil reporters late Wednesday they did not accept the latest offer made through peace broker Norway. “The Tigers do not see any real substance in the proposals, and consider it an attempt to deflect international public opinion that is building against the government,” a source close to the Tigers said.

LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran warned last month the ethnic struggle would resume unless Colombo agrees to discuss his idea for an “interim self-governing authority.”

BURMA

Student group bombs Rangoon restaurant

BANGKOK — A militant Burmese student group claimed responsibility Thursday for a bombing in Rangoon, Burma’s capital, and warned more attacks will follow unless the government frees pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest.

One worker was injured when the bomb exploded Tuesday in a restaurant popular with foreign tourists in the capital of military-ruled Burma, said state media.

The Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors — behind an embassy hostage drama here in Thailand’s capital five years ago — told Agence France-Presse more bomb attacks will follow unless its demands are met.

UZBEKISTAN

Opposition banned from tomorrow’s vote

TASHKENT — This Central Asian ally of the United States in its “war on terror” votes tomorrow in parliamentary elections officially hailed as a step toward democracy, but branded by critics as a travesty of free choice.

Autocrat Islam Karimov, 66, who has ruled the agrarian nation since Soviet times, will yield little if anything to rivals. The opposition is banned from the Lower House elections and an estimated 6,000 dissidents have been jailed.

Weekly notes

Troops killed at least 22 Maoists in a fierce clash in western Nepal Thursday as the rebels torched trucks and enforced a partial blockade of the capital to protest the disappearance of activists in army detention. The rebels attacked the soldiers at Arghakhanchi, 162 miles west of Katmandu, the capital, and the two sides exchanged fire for about two and a half hours, an army source said. … Mongolia’s President Natsagiin Bagabandi has completed a rare visit to North Korea after urging a peaceful solution to the standoff over the Stalinist country’s nuclear ambitions, reports said this week. Mr. Bagabandi left Pyongyang Wednesday after a three-day visit to North Korea, according to its official Korean Central News Agency.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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