- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 22, 2001

America's U.N. debt hits $2.3 billion

NEW YORK — The U.S. debt to the United Nations has reached a record high of $2.33 billion as of July 31, the world body reported yesterday.

About $1.8 billion of total is for peacekeeping missions for 2001 and in past years. The balance is Washington's share of the United Nations' regular $1.1 billion annual administrative budget, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

Even the $582 million that the U.S. Senate promised to pay this year has been held up in the House.

Conservatives are seeking to attach the funds to a bill that bars American cooperation with a new International Criminal Court, which most U.S. allies support.

The House measure would demand parties to the court, which include all of NATO and other allies of the United States, exclude U.S. servicemen from any prosecution, a position that has been rejected several times by nearly every country.

South African torch raised against racism

PRETORIA, South Africa — South African dignitaries lit an Olympic-style torch in Pretoria yesterday to symbolize their opposition to racism, as thousands of Muslims took to the streets of Cape Town to protest what they said was Israel's continuing oppression of Palestinians.

The two events came 10 days ahead of a U.N.-sponsored global conference on racism, which will be held in the east coast city of Durban from Aug. 31 to Sept. 7.

Diplomatic bid fails on jailed Christians

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Diplomats from the United States, Germany and Australia returned from Afghanistan yesterday after a failed weeklong effort to meet with eight aid workers jailed by the ruling Taliban for purportedly preaching Christianity.

The three diplomats called for the swift release of their compatriots — who include two American women — and said they were encouraged that care packages were delivered to the foreigners, who work for a group called Shelter Now International. But they were unable to persuade the authorities to let them see the detainees.

Seoul transport chief sacked after U.S. snub

SEOUL — President Kim Dae-jung today sacked South Korea's transport minister, Oh Jang-seop, after the United States downgraded the country's air-safety rating.

The president's office said Mr. Oh had been sacked to take responsibility for South Korea's downgrade by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration last Friday.

The downgrade means South Korean airlines cannot start new services to the key U.S. market, nor enjoy other cooperative arrangements with U.S. airlines.

Brazil urged to nix space-launch treaty

BRASILIA, Brazil — Brazil's Congress should reject a landmark treaty paving the way for U.S. satellite launches from the tropical Alcantara base because the deal's tough conditions show "contempt" for Brazilian sovereignty, a key legislator recommended yesterday.

Lawmaker Waldir Pires' report may well determine how Congress' important Foreign Affairs Committee will vote on the treaty, which is seen by Brazil's government as key to developing the country's space program.

The treaty would give the United States the exclusive right to guard areas at the base where U.S. equipment is being used, undermining Brazilian sovereignty, the report argued.

Liberia says fighting in north intensifies

MONROVIA, Liberia — The government of President Charles Taylor said yesterday fighting has intensified in the north, where for more than a year troops have been battling dissidents they say crossed from Guinea.

The report came on the eve of a planned meeting between ministers from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone to discuss the security situation in the diamond-rich region of West Africa at the junction of their borders.

A Defense Ministry statement quoting front-line commanders reported heavy fighting around the town of Kpatazu, adding that a Liberian commander had been wounded.

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