- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 27, 2001

Putin opens door to land ownership

MOSCOW Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a long-awaited land code yesterday, striking a blow at the restrictions on private property that have hampered market-oriented economic reform and discouraged foreign investment for a decade.

The move, coming against the backdrop of an improving economy, sent a strong signal to business and political leaders who are meeting next week in Moscow for a World Economic Forum session.

However, the new code falls far short of full liberalization of land sales in a country where most land remains government property.

Referendum backed for Montenegro

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia Montenegro should hold a referendum on whether to continue its partnership with Serbia in the Yugoslav federation, leaders of the two republics agreed at talks in Belgrade yesterday.

Leaders of Montenegro, the smaller of the two partners in the federation, favor independence but a general election in April in the coastal republic seemed to show voters fairly evenly split over the issue.

Serbian leaders want a reformed Yugoslav federation a stance broadly backed by Western powers, who fear any change of borders in the Balkans could trigger unrest in the region.

Taiwan fears takeover in terrorism war

TAIPEI, Taiwan The United States has given the Republic of China on Taiwan great comfort by pledging that its support for the island will not be withdrawn in exchange for China's backing in the war on terrorism, President Chen Shui-bian said yesterday.

Many in Taiwan fear that with U.S.-China ties improving since the Sept. 11 attacks, Washington might reward Beijing's anti-terrorist efforts by no longer supporting Taiwan a self-ruling island that China considers part of its territory.

In an interview, Mr. Chen endorsed cooperation between the United States and China against terrorism, calling it "necessary" and saying Taiwan has "no objections."

Pinochet hospitalized amid health rumors

SANTIAGO, Chile Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet checked into a hospital yesterday amid recurring rumors that his health was worsening rapidly.

But a spokeswoman for the 85-year old general, who ruled this South American nation with an iron fist for 17 years, said he was in stable condition and was admitted for a checkup.

"These are routine checkups his health is stable and has not deteriorated," Luz Maria Guerrero, spokeswoman for the Augusto Pinochet Foundation said.

Chilean courts ruled in July that he was mentally unfit to stand trial for death squad killings shortly after his 1973 coup.

France deploys missiles at nuclear installation

LA HAGUE, France France deployed ground-to-air missiles at its most important nuclear installation yesterday, indicating its readiness to shoot down hijacked passenger aircraft such as the ones used in the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.

Air force personnel installed two batteries of Crotale missiles near La Hague nuclear waste-reprocessing plant in Normandy. Crotale radar systems were deployed there a week ago.

The radar has a range of 95 miles and is used primarily for detecting aircraft at low and medium altitude. The missiles have a range of five miles.

Low coffee prices a blow on 3 continents

LONDON Families in the coffee regions of three continents face hunger and sickness as market prices remain locked at their lowest in 36 years.

Across the coffee-producing world, farmers are amassing crippling debts as revenue falls far short of their needs.

"In previous years, I paid my son's college fees with the money I made from selling coffee. But now the price is not enough to buy rice for my family," said Indonesian grower Wijadi, who owns a small plantation in a mountainous area in Lampung.

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