- The Washington Times - Monday, March 26, 2001

Japan, Russia extend Kuril Islands talks

IRKUTSK, Russia President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori agreed yesterday to hold further talks on resolving the Kuril Islands dispute that would make possible a peace treaty formally ending World War II.

Mr. Putin and Mr. Mori met for 90 minutes in the eastern Siberian city of Irkutsk, and the Russian president said the talks were a continuation of work on finally concluding a treaty.

Mr. Mori said the dialogue was "very open, between friends." Mr. Putin said he was certain that in the near future "we will concentrate on working out the concrete basis for moving toward a peace treaty."

Russia occupied the four islands in the southern Kuril chain during the closing days of World War II, and both countries continue to claim the islands as their own.

Kostunica criticizes extradition of Serb

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia Renewing his criticism of the U.N. war crimes tribunal, President Vojislav Kostunica yesterday said last week's arrest and extradition of a Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect was against Yugoslavia's laws.

Mr. Kostunica, a staunch critic of the Netherlands-based U.N. court investigating war crimes in former Yugoslavia, acknowledged that cooperation with the tribunal was his country's obligation but insisted relations must be legally determined first.

Mr. Kostunica's comments suggest that he was not informed in advance about plans to arrest and hand over Milomir Stakic, the former mayor of the northern Bosnian town of Prijedor who was wanted by the court in connection with atrocities committed during Bosnia's 1992-95 war.

Experts urge Bush to re-evaluate accord

A bipartisan group of U.S. foreign policy specialists urged President Bush to consider possible revisions to a landmark nuclear accord that has frozen North Korea's nuclear program since 1994.

While stressing there should be "no unilateral changes by any party," the group concluded "circumstances require a fresh look" at the pact, according to a letter to Mr. Bush to be released today.

The 28-member working group on Korea of the Council on Foreign Relations was headed by former senior State Department official Morton Abramowitz and James Laney, president emeritus of Emory University.

Bodies pulled from crash wreckage

GUSTAVIA, St. Barthelemy Emergency workers removed bodies yesterday from the charred wreckage of a twin-engine plane that slammed into a house on the Caribbean island of St. Barthelemy, killing all 19 persons on board and one on the ground, authorities said.

Air Caraibes Flight 1501 from nearby Dutch St. Maarten crashed Saturday afternoon as it approached the runway at St. Jean Airport, authorities said.

Most of the passengers were believed to be French, and one American was on board, said Georges Alexandre, local manager for Air Caraibes. Two crew members also were on board, the airline said.

Police were interviewing witnesses and searching for clues as to what could have caused the crash in clear weather on St. Barthelemy, an island of glitzy resorts administered by France that has nearly 7,000 residents and is frequented by tourists who stay at some of the most expensive hotels in the Caribbean.

Mbeki heads to Cuba for talks with Castro

JOHANNESBURG South African President Thabo Mbeki left for Fidel Castro's Cuba yesterday, seeking to cement a relationship with one of the foremost backers of the armed struggle against apartheid.

An official said Mr. Mbeki flew out to start a four-day day visit to Havana, the first such official trip to the Communist-ruled Caribbean island state by a South African head of state.

Cuba trained fighters and supplied weapons to the exiled African National Congress (ANC) in its battle against minority rule and poured thousands of its troops into Angola against white South African forces who were supporting a rebel army.

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