- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 1, 2001

U.N. envoy to Rangoon meets Suu Kyi, leaves
RANGOON, Burma — U.N. envoy Razali Ismail left Burma Thursday after four days of meetings with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the military government, but failed to meet the state's top general.
Mr. Razali remained tight-lipped throughout his visit, refusing to comment on progress in the reconciliation talks between Mrs. Suu Kyi and the government, but a spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan later said the reconciliation effort remained on track.
"Ambassador Razali was pleased to confirm that all parties remain committed to the process of national reconciliation," spokesman Manoel Almeida e Silva told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York.
Diplomats in Rangoon who were briefed by Mr. Razali said the dialogue had reached a sensitive stage.
Sources close to the talks said he was to return to Burma within two months.

Delaying Caspian talks called 'expedient'
ASHKHABAD, Turkmenistan — A summit to discuss how to share the hydrocarbon wealth of the Caspian Sea could be postponed for a third time, Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov said this week.
Mr. Niyazov had proposed holding the event at the end of October to coincide with the 10th anniversary of his country's independence.
However, this was reported to have dismayed some countries.
The Turkmen leader said it was "expedient" to delay the summit — perhaps until November or December — national television and newspapers reported.
The summit of presidents of Caspian littoral states — Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Russia — is due to focus on the division of the sea, which is rich in oil and gas.

India accused of hoarding grain
NEW DELHI — India's opposition parties accused Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's government this week of letting millions of poor people starve despite adequate national stocks of food grain.
Shivraj Patil from India's main Opposition Congress Party told Parliament on Thursday that it was a shame that people were starving "despite government granaries bursting at the seams" with surplus wheat and rice.
"The federal government should direct the states to take necessary steps to ensure availability of food grains to all sections of society," Mr. Patil said.
Media reports have highlighted starvation deaths coming from the flood-hit eastern Indian state of Orissa and the northern desert state of Rajasthan.

Weekly notes …
British Labor Party Parliament member Lindsay Hoyle demanded parity for retired British army Gurkhas in Nepal, some of whom live in poverty, he claimed, because their pensions are linked to Indian army rates. "But even worse than that," he said, "some of them have to travel for days on end from remote areas to pick up their pensions from a central point." … Banks in Bangladesh have recovered at least $8.62 million worth of bad loans as people scrambled to pay off their debts in order to run in the forthcoming general election, banking sources report. Those defaulting on loans are banned from seeking election, although they can do so if they reschedule their loans and pay 10 percent of the amount due.

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