- The Washington Times - Friday, November 2, 2001

Argentine president seeks new debt terms

BUENOS AIRES With his country on the brink of default on its foreign debt, President Fernando De la Rua went on national television yesterday to say he would try to renegotiate the debt to get lower interest rates in exchange for stronger guarantees of repayment.

Speaking in a prerecorded national television address, the president sought to defuse a week of increasing investor uncertainty over the country's ability to avoid default on its $132 billion debt, vowing his plan would not interrupt debt-servicing payments to creditors.

"We will meet our obligations" to creditors, Mr. De la Rua said in an address from Government House. He vowed Argentina would not default or devalue its peso currency because of the grave economic crisis.

He said he wanted to reduce the cost of the country's debt by bringing interest rates on it down to single digits.

Chechen war toll now close to 15,000

MOSCOW The Kremlin conceded yesterday that nearly 3,500 Russian soldiers and 11,000 rebel fighters have been killed in Chechnya in a 25-month war that officials again vowed would continue until the last rebel is dead.

A Kremlin spokesman responsible for information on Chechnya said 3,438 Russian soldiers had died and another 11,661 had been injured since Moscow started its "anti-terrorist" operation on October 1, 1999.

The office of Sergei Yastrzhembsky gave no estimates of civilian casualties, which human rights group fear may stand in the tens of thousands.

Budget reflects return to socialism

HARARE, Zimbabwe The Zimbabwe government yesterday revealed the troubled nation's 2002 annual budget, seen as clearly populist, and acknowledged it had failed to salvage the crumbling economy.

Zimbabwe's finance minister, Simba Makoni, painted a bleak picture of Zimbabwe's economy, predicting another year of economic depression.

The economy is expected to shrink 7.3 percent by the end of the year, against original estimates of 2.8 percent, and is projected to decline another 5.3 percent in 2002, Mr. Makoni said.

Dominican legend is dead at 92

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic Juan Bosch, a towering figure in Dominican politics for more than five decades whose leftist policies prompted a military coup and later a U.S. invasion, died yesterday. He was 92.

He had been in and out of the hospital for most of this year, most recently receiving treatment for neurological, respiratory and intestinal problems. He died about 3 a.m., said Dr. Pedro Urena.

Mr. Bosch held the presidency for only seven months following the assassination of dictator Rafael Trujillo in 1961, but was one of the Spanish-speaking nation's most influential politicians.

News of his death spread quickly, with some Dominicans waving flags as they watched reports of Mr. Bosch's death on television.

Berbers stage protest in Algeria heartland

IGHIL IMOULA, Algeria Tens of thousands of ethnic Berbers yesterday took part in a peaceful protest march in the troubled Kabylie region in northeastern Algeria to press Algiers to cede to their political demands.

The march, which covered around six miles between the villages of Ouadhias and Ighil Imoula, was called by Berber tribal and village councils to keep up the pressure on the government of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Among Berber demands are the official recognition of their language Tamazight, an economic recovery plan for Kabylie, decent unemployment benefits, the departure of gendarmes from their communities, and compensation for victims and their families injured in police-related violence.

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