- The Washington Times - Friday, January 21, 2005

BRITAIN

India, China invited to G-7 finance talks

LONDON — India and China plan to attend part of the Feb. 4-5 meeting of Group of Seven financial leaders in London, a British Treasury source said this week, signaling India’s debut at a meeting of the world’s richest nations.

Britain, current chair of the G-7, wants the group to hold talks with the two emerging economies on issues such as the global economy, foreign exchange, debt incurred by African countries and climate change, the source said.

Talks with China and India are expected to be held separately from a regular meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

AZERBAIJAN

Hostile rivals vie for U.S. friendship

BAKU — At home, the armies of Azerbaijan and Armenia only see each other through gun sights pointed across one of the world’s deadliest cease-fire lines, but in Iraq, the two are fighting on the same side for a common cause: American friendship.

This week, a group of 46 Armenian soldiers joined the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq which has included since 2004 a contingent of 100 peacekeepers from Armenia’s longtime foe Azerbaijan.

Although the stated aims of both nation’s troop deployments are to help stabilize the situation in Iraq and protect holy sites there, observers say the bitter rivals are really on a mission to outdo each other in front of Uncle Sam.

AFGHANISTAN

Caution urged during fight against opium

BRUSSELS — Afghan authorities are determined to destroy the country’s $2.8 billion opium trade, but they must take care not to provoke unrest among farmers who depend on the crop, Afghanistan’s new counter-narcotics minister said here this week.

Habibullah Qaderi appealed for international aid to wean farmers from growing opium and to help train anti-drug forces to stem the flood of cheap Afghan heroin onto world markets.

“To take away the livelihood of the farmers could be dangerous in some parts of Afghanistan, particularly in this period ahead of elections” this spring, Mr. Qaderi told reporters during a visit to NATO headquarters.

Weekly notes

Tens of thousands of Sri Lankans displaced by the island’s long-running ethnic conflict should be included in Colombo’s post-tsunami resettlement plans, the U.N. refugee agency has urged. About 80,000 people, displaced by the war, have been living in makeshift camps in the east and north of the country for years and need proper housing, said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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