Jordan plans pullout from Sierra Leone
NEW YORK Jordan has said it intends to withdraw its 1,800-strong contingent from the U.N. peacekeeping force in Sierra Leone the second setback in a month for the world body’s peace mission there.
Jordan officially informed Secretary-General Kofi Annan of its decision in a letter, U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe said yesterday.
Jordan had been the third-largest contributor to the 13,000-strong force. It had 1,753 troops and other staff on the ground and had been considered one of the better-prepared and equipped battalions.
Last month, India announced it was withdrawing its 3,059-strong contingent the second-largest after Nigeria but said it would pull out the troops in phases to avoid a security vacuum as the United Nations tried to find replacements.
Spy case in Moscow called incoherent
MOSCOW The lawyer for an American accused of spying in Russia said yesterday the prosecution’s case is incoherent and fails to explain how Edmund Pope communicated with his supposed contact when they don’t speak each other’s languages.
“The man is accused of holding negotiations with the purpose of obtaining secret materials although he has absolutely no Russian. And the person who is accused of stealing those documents speaks no English,” lawyer Pavel Astakhov said after yesterday’s hearing.
“They couldn’t have reached an agreement without a translator, and a translator would become an accessory. But only Pope is sitting in the dock,” he said.
British secret agents fight to block book
AUCKLAND, New Zealand Members of Britain’s Special Air Services (SAS) have flown to New Zealand in an effort to block publication of a book about the secretive unit, local media reported today.
The British government is attempting in the Auckland High Court to halt publication of “Soldier 5” by a New Zealander writing under the pen name Mike Coburn, the New Zealand Herald reported. The author served in the British SAS between 1990 and 1997, the newspaper said.
He was captured during the Persian Gulf war after being dropped behind enemy lines as a member of the Bravo Two Zero patrol. Three of the eight-man patrol were killed and four, including himself, were captured.
Equal role for women in peace talks urged
NEW YORK Raped, made homeless and forced across borders in wars around the world, women asked the U.N. Security Council yesterday to make sure they have an equal role with men at peace negotiations.
Angela King, the U.N. special adviser on women, said the United Nations should appoint more women as civilian or special envoys in charge of peacekeeping missions and make sure women’s issues are part of each operation.
Noting that the United Nations did this in Namibia and South Africa, Miss King, in her speech to the council yesterday, said this had little or no impact on its missions that followed in the early 1990s in Cambodia or Bosnia.
Venezuela bristles at border crossings
CARACAS, Venezuela Venezuela said yesterday that 30 Colombians had crossed its border and up to 650 more could seek shelter in coming days from escalating violence related to a U.S.-backed anti-drug offensive in the neighboring Andean nation.
Foreign Minister Jose Vicente Rangel called on the Colombian government to ensure the safety of its frontier regions. He blamed the Plan Colombia, a $7.5 billion offensive against drug trafficking in the world’s biggest cocaine-producing nation, for increasing violence in border regions.
Muslim Brotherhood draws Egyptian fire
ASHMUN, Egypt Police fired on opposition supporters and beat them with batons as clashes erupted during parliamentary runoff elections yesterday. One person died and dozens were wounded.
Scores of voters denied entrance to polling stations in Ashmun gathered outside the courthouse yesterday and pelted police trucks with stones. Police responded with tear gas, live ammunition and batons.
The runoff vote in Ashmun, 25 miles northwest of Cairo, pitted a candidate backed by the Muslim Brotherhood against one running on the ticket of the ruling National Democratic Party.