- The Washington Times - Friday, April 19, 2002

Talks collapse on Congo deal

SUN CITY, South Africa Peace talks on the future of the Democratic Republic of Congo collapsed early this morning as the Kinshasa government and the two main rebel movements failed to agree on an end to the civil war and the establishment of an interim government, participants at the South African-sponsored talks said.

The collapse risks reigniting the 4-year-old war, in which four foreign armies are fighting, and which has left an estimated 2.5 million people dead.

The failure of the talks means that a power-sharing agreement between the government and the Ugandan-backed Congolese Liberation Movement will go ahead. The main loser: the Rwandan-backed Congolese Rally for Democracy.

Chechens strike as Putin boasts

MOSCOW A bomb blast killed at least 17 pro-Moscow police in rebel Chechnya yesterday, two hours before Russian President Vladimir Putin declared an end to war in the territory in a nationally televised address.

The attack brought the reported death toll in 24 hours of violence to 26. In one of the bloodiest days of a conflict that had raged throughout Mr. Putin's two years in office, two children and a pregnant woman were among those reported killed in mortar attacks earlier.

U.S. boosts troops in the Philippines

MANILA The United States is sending 2,700 more troops to the Philippines for a joint military exercise, three months after a smaller U.S. force was dispatched for a counterterrorism mission.

The three-week joint military exercise with 2,900 Philippine troops begins Sunday and is aimed at helping Washington's biggest Southeast Asian ally improve its defenses and ability to participate in U.N. peacekeeping missions, the Philippine military said yesterday.

The latest batch of troops came on the heels of a 660-strong American military contingent, which began arriving in the southern Philippines in January to train Filipino soldiers to fight against a Muslim militant group believed to be linked to the al Qaeda terror network.

Chinese president visits Iran

SHIRAZ, Iran Chinese President Jiang Zemin arrived in Iran yesterday for a state visit aimed at bolstering economic ties with a country labeled by Washington as a sponsor of terrorism.

His visit to Iran, responding to Iranian President Mohammed Khatami's official trip to China in 2000, was the last stop on a five-nation, two-week tour that included Germany, Libya, Tunisia and Nigeria.

Taking a break for sightseeing before the start of the official program, the Chinese leader today was due to visit the ancient ruins of Persepolis.

Dueling presidents agree to new vote

DAKAR, Senegal Madagascar's rival presidential candidates reached an accord yesterday on the island nation's three-month election impasse, agreeing to hold a new vote if a recount of the Dec. 16 poll failed to determine a conclusive winner.

The agreement, reached after two days of intensive mediation by African presidents in Dakar, Senegal, committed the two men, incumbent President Didier Ratsiraka and challenger Marc Ravalomanana, to first await the outcome of the court-ordered recount.

The election standoff has divided the country and the military, brought the impoverished Indian Ocean island's economy to a standstill with roadblocks and embargoes, and killed 32 persons, according to a count by civil rights groups.

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