- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 6, 2001

U.S. tells travelers to avoid Nepal
The United States yesterday stepped up its warning to Americans considering traveling to Nepal, telling them to stay away from the Himalayan country entirely amid the resurgence in Maoist violence.
The State Department, which had already barred U.S. diplomats from most travel outside Katmandu owing to the rebel attacks, said the security situation could deteriorate further in view of the general strike that has been called for tomorrow.
"The Department of State warns Americans to defer travel to Nepal," it said in a statement. "Americans in Nepal are urged to avoid travel outside the Katmandu Valley, particularly by road."

Bloodshed mars voting in Sri Lanka
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka Sri Lankans voted for a new parliament yesterday in an election overshadowed by political bloodshed and a long-running separatist Tamil rebellion in the north.
Polls closed after a day marred by violence, accusations of fraud and calls for fresh elections in areas where government actions prevented tens of thousands of Tamils from voting.
"We are convinced that today's election has been severely marred by widespread incidents of violence, rigging and other electoral malpractices," said Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, head of the independent Center for Monitoring Election Violence.
Electoral violence, mostly blamed on militants of the ruling People's Alliance and the main opposition United National Party, killed eight persons Tuesday and yesterday, raising the death toll to 49, with 700 injured.

Saudis act to grant women basic rights
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates Under pressure to give women more rights, Saudi Arabia has begun issuing identity cards to female citizens for the first time, a government official said yesterday.
About 2,000 women have been issued their own identity cards since the program started last month, said an official in the department responsible for the cards, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The cards include a picture of the woman's uncovered face.
Previously, Saudi women were only named, but not pictured, on a "family ID" card identifying them as dependents of their fathers or husbands. For cultural and religious reasons, Saudi women do not reveal any part of their bodies but for the hands, eyes and feet to most men except close relatives.

Swiss set to rebuild Buddha statues
BASEL, Switzerland The head of a Swiss museum devoted to Afghanistan yesterday offered to rebuild two giant Buddha statues destroyed by the Taliban militia early last year, saying he possessed detailed measurements of the structures. Paul Bucherer, the head of an Afghanistan institute and museum in the town of Bubenberg, said his organization could rebuild the two ancient statues, which are some 53 meters (170 feet) in height and located in Afghanistan's Bamian Valley.

Japan is bracing for recession woes
TOKYO A global technology slump coupled with the fallout from the terror attacks in the United States and the discovery of mad cow disease at home knocked Japan into recession in the third quarter, economists said.
Gross domestic product data, to be released tomorrow, will show a quarter-on-quarter contraction of 0.6 percent over the July-September period, according to market consensus.

Vaccine tests for malaria set
LONDON The quest for the first anti-malaria vaccine took a step forward yesterday when British pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline announced plans to conduct tests on a drug in Mozambique next year.
GSK is to team up with the U.S. nonprofit Malaria Vaccine Initiative and a local health research institute in Mozambique to begin a program of preliminary tests of the effectiveness of the vaccine.
GSK said its vaccine, RTS,S/AS02, already had shown promising results.

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