- The Washington Times - Friday, August 16, 2002

U.S. proposes easing of terror-assets freeze

NEW YORK In a move aimed at making life easier for more than 200 people believed to be linked to Osama bin Laden and his terror network, the United States has proposed partially lifting a freeze of their financial assets to allow them to pay for food, rent and other living expenses.

A draft resolution circulated to the 15-member U.N. Security Council and obtained by the Associated Press would authorize the country where the individuals live to determine the amount of money that can be released.

The Security Council in January shifted sanctions from the government of Afghanistan to bin Laden, al Qaeda and the remnants of the country's former Taliban rulers.

The proposed U.S. amendment, to be introduced next week, would allow the countries where individuals on the list live to determine the amount of money necessary for basic expenses. Funds also could be unfrozen to pay for some legal fees and service charges.

British, U.S. planes strike Iraqi targets

LONDON Britain yesterday confirmed that U.S. and British fighter aircraft had struck targets in southern Iraq earlier this week but said it was not aware of any casualties.

"Coalition aircraft were in operation in the southern no-fly zones over Iraq late Tuesday. Self-defense action was taken against a mobile tracking radar unit which had locked onto our aircraft," a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense said.

Iraqi Air Defense Command said earlier yesterday that the planes had bombed civilian and service targets shortly before midnight Wednesday in the provinces of Missan and al-Wassit, wounding four civilians. It also said it had fired at the attacking aircraft.

Venezuelan court probes Cuba oil deal

CARACAS, Venezuela Venezuela's Supreme Court has opened an investigation into a preferential oil-sales agreement with Cuba that has been widely criticized by political foes of President Hugo Chavez, the court said yesterday.

The deal, signed by the left-wing president and Cuban leader Fidel Castro in October 2000, has been denounced by government opposition groups since the communist state fell behind in payments late last year.

Under the terms of the agreement, Cuba receives up to 53,000 barrels per day of oil and oil products. Cuba is past due for $140 million in oil purchases according to some estimates.

Chavez supporters protest coup ruling

CARACAS, Venezuela Backers of President Hugo Chavez, angered by a Supreme Court decision exonerating four military officers accused of leading an April coup, protested in the streets yesterday and looked for ways to force the justices to resign.

Dozens of Chavez supporters protested near the presidential palace, though the gathering was smaller and calmer than the day before, when troops drove away protesters trying to storm the Supreme Court after it gave its ruling. Four persons were injured in the protests Wednesday.

NATO continues hunt for Karadzic

CELEBICI, Bosnia-Herzegovina NATO troops in Bosnia-Herzegovina blocked roads and checked vehicles and passengers yesterday as part of a stepped-up campaign to hunt down wartime Serbian leader and genocide suspect Radovan Karadzic.

The NATO-led Stabilization Force (Sfor) searched remote areas near the Montenegrin border for the second day, targeting people who have helped one of the world's most-wanted men remain at large almost seven years after the 1992-1995 war ended.

The operation got under way Wednesday when soldiers backed by helicopters hovering overhead moved into the eastern village of Celebici.

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