- The Washington Times - Friday, January 19, 2001

Armenian genocide marked in Paris

PARIS French deputies provoked a deep rift in their country's relations with Turkey yesterday by adopting a bill that recognizes as genocide the killings of hundreds of thousands of Armenians under Turkish rule more than 80 years ago.

Turkey immediately recalled its ambassador to France for consultations and said that "serious and lasting harm" had been done to Turkish-French relations.

"The Turkish government strongly condemns this resolution … which dares to accuse Turkey of a genocide crime it has not committed, and ignores historical facts," a government statement said.

Armenians say that 1.5 million people died in orchestrated massacres and mass deportations between 1915 and 1917, but Turkey says a much smaller number died in the chaos of the dissolution of the Ottoman empire.

Kostunica shrugs off Montenegrin gambit

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia President Vojislav Kostunica said yesterday Serbia had no interest in a future alliance with Montenegro if it decided formally to split from the Yugoslav federation and become independent.

Mr. Kostunica, who wants the two republics to remain together inside a reformed Yugoslavia, also warned that if Montenegro becomes independent, further territorial changes in the still-volatile Balkans could follow.

Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic wants the two republics first to become independent states and then form a new, far looser association.

Meanwhile, the United States plans to announce today an end to U.S. economic sanctions on Yugoslavia, according to a White House official.

U.S. defense ties reaffirmed by France

PARIS French Defense Minister Alain Richard said yesterday he had told Russian leaders the European Union's burgeoning defense efforts should not be interpreted as a loosening of ties with the United States.

"Europe's strengthening of its defense should be clearly seen by all as reinforcing the solidity and efficiency of the Atlantic Alliance," Mr. Richard told ambassadors and defense attaches from EU and NATO embassies based in Paris.

Poor harvests raise famine risk in Niger

NIAMEY, Niger Poor cereal-grain harvests, and low stocks and high prices for staple foods threaten people in northeast Niger with famine and have triggered an exodus from the area, the country's disaster-management agency said Thursday.

People had resorted to searching ant hills for grain the insects had collected, it said.

In several villages, about half of the population had left, it added. In the northwest of the country, people still had food, but only enough for one meal a day and small children were suffering from malnutrition, the report said.

Mayor in Colombia is assassinated

BOGOTA, Colombia Suspected leftist guerrillas executed a mayor in a remote jungle village in Colombia yesterday as government negotiators met with rebel leaders to revive peace talks to end a 4-decade-long civil war.

Henry Perea Torres, mayor of the northwestern town of Jurado in steamy Choco province, was dragged out of his office in broad daylight by two armed assailants who shot him twice in the head, authorities said.

"Apparently, the men identified themselves as members of the FARC," said Gilberto Toro, director of the Colombian Federation of Municipalities, referring to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the hemisphere's oldest rebel group.

Albright hopeful on talks in Burma

Outgoing Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright expressed hope yesterday that talks between Burma's military government and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi are a genuine effort at national reconciliation.

Speaking to reporters, Mrs. Albright noted the United States has imposed sanctions against Burma to promote democratic change and has worked to keep the country's democratic opposition alive.

According to U.N. officials, secret talks between government officials and Mrs. Suu Kyi began in October. They were officially disclosed last week.

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