- The Washington Times - Monday, August 20, 2001

Colombian army attacks FARC column
BOGOTA, Colombia Thousands of soldiers backed by jets and helicopter gunships pursued a column of rebels through Colombia's southern jungle yesterday, killing 20 guerrillas, including a high-ranking commander, the military said.
In a major assault, the army deployed 3,500 soldiers, dozens of helicopters and fighter planes after locating more than 1,000 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, in the jungle about 185 miles southeast of Bogota.
Soldiers killed Urias Cuellar, "the second man in the military hierarchy of the FARC," Gen. Carlos Alberto Fracica, commander of the Army's Rapid Response Force, said in an interview with the television station RCN.
The army said that three soldiers were killed in the fighting late Saturday and early yesterday.


Israeli centrist party joins ruling coalition
JERUSALEM Israel's small Center Party accepted an invitation yesterday to join Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's coalition government, which already contains a broad spectrum of political parties.
The Center Party has five members in Israel's 120-seat parliament, the Knesset, and Mr. Sharon has promised top jobs to three of them, all former members of his conservative Likud Party.
Roni Milo, a Center Party member who will become minister of regional cooperation, said the decision was pragmatic. "It is preferable to be inside the government and have an influence on decisions and processes," he said.

Tropical Storm Chantal heads for Mexico
MEXICO CITY Chantal, the Caribbean's first tropical storm of the year, threatened to develop into a hurricane yesterday, churning its way past Jamaica. It was projected to hit land on Mexico's Yucatan peninsula by late today.
The fast-moving storm, which formed early Thursday, soaked small islands in the Caribbean and generated lightning that killed two brothers collecting rainwater in Trinidad.
Computer models show the storm touching land late today or early tomorrow anywhere along the 200-mile stretch of coastline between Belize City, Belize, and Cancun, Mexico, where hurricane watches are in effect.

U.S. arms official en route to Russia
MOSCOW A top U.S. arms official flies into Moscow this week for talks with Russian officials hungry for pledges on nuclear-arms cuts that could clear the way for a deal on missile defense.
John Bolton, U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control, will meet Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov tomorrow. He will be the fifth top U.S. official to visit Moscow in a month.
Russia wants to nail down the outline of a new arms-reduction accord, which many analysts see as vital to securing Moscow's grudging acceptance of U.S. plans to develop missile defense.

Bulgaria's prime minister announces tax reform
SOFIA, Bulgaria Bulgaria's prime minister, in his first public speech after June elections, pledged yesterday to overhaul the tax system, reduce the size of government and raise the minimum wage for state workers.
Former King Simeon II said his government would make the privatization process transparent, cut state administration by 10 percent and raise the public sector minimum wage by 17 percent.

Gates vaccine program comes to Asia
SIEM REAP, Cambodia In the shadow of the famous Angkor Wat temple, infant Chan Rasmey yesterday became the first child in Asia to be immunized by the Vaccine Fund, a $1.8 billion initiative funded largely by Bill Gates.
The inoculation marked the start of the immunization drive in Asia and its five-year commitment to Cambodia.
Its aim is to inoculate newborns across the country of 11 million with three vaccines, including one to prevent the deadly hepatitis B-diphtheria virus.


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