- The Washington Times - Friday, March 16, 2001

Troops in Congo begin pulling back

GEMENA, Congo The Congolese army, rebel forces and their allies began a 10-mile pullback from their front lines yesterday, their leaders said, in an important step toward reviving a stalled peace process in the war-ruined Central African country.

Rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba said his troops completed the withdrawal on Tuesday, well ahead of schedule, after the United Nations agreed to deploy military observers in several key towns.

Mr. Bemba, head of the Congolese Liberation Front, is backed by the army of Uganda one of six countries involved in the Congo conflict and their forces control most of northern Congo.

U.S. resists force for West Bank, Gaza

NEW YORK All U.N. Security Council members except for the United States yesterday supported a U.N. observer force to help quell violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. But some Western envoys conditioned their support on Israeli consent.

During an all-day debate held at the request of Palestinian U.N. delegate Nasser Kidwa, representatives of France, Britain, China, Norway and Ireland, among others, endorsed the idea of an observer force to help end nearly six months of Mideast violence and get the peace process back on track.

African states back new term for Annan

NEW YORK The group of 53 African states at the United Nations publicly endorsed U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan for a second term in office yesterday and asked him to declare his candidacy.

Diplomats said Mr. Annan was so popular that if he decided to seek re-election before his five-year term expires on Dec. 31, it would probably preclude the possibility of an Asian candidate.

Traditionally, the post of U.N. secretary-general has rotated among the world body's four geographical groups, with each officeholder limited to two terms.

Belgrade proclaims 'Remembrance Day'

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia Yugoslavia yesterday declared March 24 the day on which NATO launched air strikes against the country in 1999 a national holiday of remembrance.

"As a country and a people, we are obliged to recognize and remember the evil that had been inflicted upon us as well as the evil that we inflicted upon others," said a government statement. "That way we can avoid repetition of that evil."

The new national holiday will be called Remembrance Day in memory of all the victims of the 78-day bombing that NATO launched to force former President Slobodan Milosevic to end his attacks against ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo.

Africa hails cuts in HIV drug prices

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast The sudden wave of cost cuts in HIV drugs for Africa was welcomed yesterday in struggling clinics like Marc Aguirre's, where poor patients receive care on four beds in a converted garage.

But only as a start.

Even at drug companies' newly promised prices at or below cost for some key drugs effective treatment against AIDS will remain far out of reach for Africans hardest hit by it, Mr. Aguirre and other AIDS activists and workers across Africa said.

"Working in the trenches day to day, and seeing people suffer and die just because they don't have access to drugs, it's hard," said Mr. Aguirre.

Soldiers end protest in Papua New Guinea

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea Soldiers in Papua New Guinea ended a standoff today after raiding the country's main armory, seizing 32 M16 assault rifles, and locking themselves in their barracks in the capital, Port Moresby.

The soldiers broke into Murray Barracks armory yesterday in a protest over a defense reform plan that would see 50 percent of the force axed and the barracks closed.

"It's all over now, they are no longer locked in the barracks," acting commander Brig. Gen. Karl Malpo said.

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