- The Washington Times - Monday, December 6, 2004

FRANCE

Police change policy after luggage mishap

PARIS — French police yesterday ended their practice of hiding plastic explosives in air passengers’ luggage to train bomb-sniffing dogs after one such bag got lost, possibly ending up on a flight out of Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport.

There has been no sign yet of the luggage that police used Friday for the exercise, hiding nearly 5 ounces of explosives in a passenger’s suitcase. Three flights that arrived in Los Angeles and New York were searched without turning up the material.

Police say there was no chance the explosives could go off, since they were not connected to detonators.

AFGHANISTAN

U.S. force reductions foreseen by summer

KABUL — The United States could cut its forces in Afghanistan next summer if Taliban militants accept an amnesty to be drawn up by President Hamid Karzai and neighboring Pakistan, the senior U.S. commander here said yesterday.

“By next summer, we’ll have a much better sense if the security threat is diminished as a result of, say, a significant reconciliation with large numbers of Taliban,” Lt. Gen. David Barno said in an interview.

He said the 18,000-strong mainly American combat force in Afghanistan was unlikely to shrink before parliamentary elections slated for April.

THAILAND

Air Force ‘bombs’ south with origami

PANARE — About 50 Thai Air Force planes “bombed” the largely Muslim south with 100 million paper birds yesterday as a symbol of peace for a restive region where nearly 500 people have been killed since January.

Villagers stared into the sky awaiting the deluge of birds, one of which was signed by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and carried the promise of a scholarship or a job for the finder.

Drops were made over hundreds of villages in the three southern provinces near the Malaysian border. It was one of the biggest operations in the history of the Thai Air Force.

MOZAMBIQUE

Ruling party headed for landslide victory

MAPUTO — Businessman Armando Guebuza was heading for a landslide victory in elections to succeed veteran Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, an umbrella group of non-governmental organizations said yesterday.

The Electoral Observer Group said that with 90 percent of the votes counted, Mr. Guebuza, candidate of the ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique, had about 60 percent of the vote.

His main challenger, Afonso Dhlakama of the former rebel Mozambique National Resistance, had 35 percent. Three other candidates shared the remainder.

TAIWAN

Name-game marches draw thousands

TAIPEI — Some 75,000 people took part in two marches called by opposing political parties yesterday to campaign about Taiwan’s name on the last weekend before legislative elections.

The pro-independence Taiwan Solidarity Union gathered an estimated 15,000 people to urge the government to change the island’s name to “Republic of Taiwan” and sever its ties to China — a move that could provoke Beijing to declare war.

Just a few streets away, the opposition Nationalist Party and People First Party mobilized some 60,000 supporters to march in support of Taiwan’s official name, the Republic of China.

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