- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 1, 2001

Arafat is accused of ordering attacks

JERUSALEM The commander of Israel's armed forces charged yesterday that Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority is ordering attacks against Israel.

"The authority is being converted into a terrorist entity," said Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz, the military chief of staff, charging that "senior security officials" are directing attacks against Israel by militias that are "operational arms" of the Palestinian Authority.

Israeli officials in the past have complained that Mr. Arafat has encouraged, or at least not stopped, armed attacks by Palestinians during five months of violence, but this was the first time Israel charged that his quasi-government has adopted terrorism as a policy.

Beijing ratifies pact on human rights

BEIJING China ratified a key U.N. human rights treaty yesterday after years of prodding by foreign governments and rights campaigners.

Approval of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights came four years after China signed it and two weeks before a U.N. human rights conference in Geneva where Beijing's human rights record again will come under scrutiny.

The pact and a companion treaty on political rights provide a framework for safeguarding basic civil liberties, which overseas human rights groups say are mostly lacking in China.

The United States signed the pact in 1975 but it still has not ratified it.

Colombian rebel chief won't 'beg' U.S.

BOGOTA, Colombia Colombia's rebel leader, responding to President Bush's refusal to participate in peace talks, said yesterday he would not "beg" the United States to join negotiations he is holding with the Colombian government to end the country's 37-year-old war.

Manuel "Sureshot" Marulanda, head of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), made his comments one day after Mr. Bush, at a meeting at the White House, rejected a request by President Andres Pastrana to participate in the 2-year-old dialogue.

"What else can we do? We are not going to beg them."

Australia bars grapes from California

CANBERRA, Australia The government announced yesterday it is barring the import of California table grapes amid fears they may carry a devastating grape virus that could wipe out the local industry.

Agriculture Minister Warren Truss said an application to import the grapes has been rejected by the nation's quarantine watchdog, Biosecurity Australia.

Mr. Truss said Biosecurity fears the California grapes will bring with them the glassy-winged sharp shooter, an insect that carries Pierce's disease, which last year wiped out much of the California grape harvest.

Curtain rings down on Rio Carnival

RIO DE JANEIRO Rio de Janeiro's annual Carnival celebrations ended at Sambadrome stadium yesterday with the thunderous drumbeats of the samba parade group that bested more than a dozen rivals.

The award ceremony for Imperatriz samba school, which took home its third consecutive champion's title, crowned five days of pre-Lenten revelry in the streets and two nights of lavish parades by the city's top samba schools.

Rio's top 14 samba schools clashed for the champion's title in an internationally televised gala on the 700-yard-long Sambadrome runway, built for the annual parades and lined with viewing stands and VIP boxes.

Milosevic defended by Socialist allies

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia Senior members of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party met Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic late yesterday to call for a halt to moves against their leader, a party official said.

"We asked Mr. Djindjic to stop the campaigns aimed at scaring people to clear the way for the arrests of those whose only guilt is to have defended their people," said Zivorad Igic, the party's deputy president.

"It is unacceptable and illegal that some government ministers are accusing and condemning when the country's courts still haven't discussed the matter," he added.


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