- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 24, 2001

Iraq calls weapons charges 'a new lie'

BAGHDAD Iraq yesterday characterized as a "new lie" U.S. charges that factories that could be used for making chemical or biological agents have been rebuilt since U.S.-British air strikes on the country in 1998.

"Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction," Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh was quoted by the Qatari satellite television network Al-Jazeera as saying.

On Monday, the New York Times reported that three factories were located in an industrial complex in Falluja, west of Baghdad.

A defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said it was not known whether the plants were producing chemical or biological agents because with no international weapons inspectors on the ground, "we can't see inside."

Top Tokyo planner quits in scandal

TOKYO Japan's top economic planner resigned yesterday in an influence-peddling scandal, the third minister to quit Prime Minister's Yoshiro Mori's unpopular administration within 10 months.

The resignation of Fukushiro Nukaga, state minister for the economy, industry and information technology, focused attention on the murky subject of money politics six months ahead of elections to the upper house of parliament.

"It's really damaging to Mr. Mori," said Shigenori Okazaki, a political analyst at UBS Warburg Dillon Read. "It's definitely going to impact the election."

Twins in tug of war to stay in foster care

BIRMINGHAM, England A court ruled yesterday that 6-month-old girls at the center of a trans-Atlantic tug of war will remain in foster care while a judge wrestles with a case that spotlights concerns over the use of the Internet to broker adoptions.

The case has captured worldwide attention and sent Britain scrambling to regulate overseas adoptions more closely amid a legal tangle that extends from California to Arkansas to Wales.

Judith and Alan Kilshaw, the Welsh couple who found the girls through an Internet service, adopted them and brought them to Britain, have pledged to keep up their fight for custody.

The Kilshaws' adoption of the twins named Belinda and Kimberley in Arkansas is being contested by a California couple who found the girls through the same Internet service and had cared for them for two months while preparing to adopt them. The babies' birth mother also says she wants them back.

Putin said to welcome Turner's TV offer

MOSCOW A leading Russian politician said yesterday that President Vladimir Putin welcomed the idea of CNN founder Ted Turner buying a stake in the country's leading independent television station.

But a senior presidential aide made it clear the Kremlin thought Mr. Turner was wrong to seek some kind of political guarantee for his bid.

Media-Most, NTV's biggest shareholder, has come under official pressure in recent months via investigations into its finances, which it links to Kremlin efforts to muzzle the media.

India extends truce in Kashmir one month

NEW DELHI India extended its 2-month-old truce against militants in Kashmir for another month yesterday, prompting a guarded reaction from rival Pakistan and scorn from separatist guerrilla groups.

"The government believes violence must be ended and peace … given every chance," Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh said in a statement after a meeting of the Cabinet committee on security.

"The present phase of peace … is being extended, in that hope, by another month," he added.

Colombian troops sent near guerrilla haven

BOGOTA, Colombia The Colombian army said yesterday it airlifted about 600 counterinsurgency troops to an area near a leftist guerrilla safe haven as attempts to revive peace talks to end a 4-decade-old civil war stalled before a key deadline.

The dispatch of the troops, who were reinforcing about 2,500 government soldiers based near a Switzerland-sized area under the control of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), came after rebel leader Manuel "Sureshot" Marulanda Monday rejected government proposals to restart formal peace talks.

President Andres Pastrana must decide by Jan. 31 whether to allow the FARC to remain in the demilitarized territory in southern Colombia that he granted the rebels two years ago to start a peace dialogue.

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