Arrests in Malaysia tied to Singapore
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia The government yesterday announced the arrests of two suspected militants tied to the al Qaeda terror network and linked Malaysian extremists to a cell in Singapore that plotted to bomb Western embassies.
The government of Singapore said more al Qaeda members were likely still at large, even after the arrest of 30 suspected militants so far in the city-state and neighboring Malaysia.
Malaysian officials said two men had been arrested in the past few days for membership in an Islamic militant group called the Kumpulan Mujahiddin Malaysia. The arrests brought to 15 the number of suspected members of the group detained since Dec. 9.
Uzbekistan gets aid for fight on terrorism
TASHKENT, Uzbekistan The United States is allocating $100 million in aid for Uzbekistan for its support of the U.S.-led military operation in neighboring Afghanistan, a U.S. congressman said yesterday.
The aid to the Central Asian nation so far has been targeted at military training and ensuring security, but will eventually expand to other sectors, Rep. Jim Kolbe, Arizona Republican, told reporters.
Mr. Kolbe, chairman of the House Appropriations foreign operations subcommittee, was leading a delegation of five U.S. representatives to Central Asia.
Mr. Kolbe praised Uzbek President Islam Karimov for being so quick to offer use of an air base for the military campaign in Afghanistan. More than 1,000 U.S. troops have been deployed to Uzbekistan since October.
United States to chair Sudan peace talks
KHARTOUM, Sudan The United States for the first time will mediate peace talks between the Sudanese government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army, a presidential adviser said yesterday.
The talks will begin in Switzerland next week, Ghazi Salah el-Din Atabani said in a statement carried by the official Sudan News Agency.
The initiative could reflect increased interest in Washington in helping to end the war, in which more than 2 million people are estimated to have died in fighting and attendant famines.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told Congress last year he would make a priority of the Sudanese war. Washington has provided about $1.2 billion in humanitarian aid to southern Sudan since 1989.
Argentine slams IMF over economic advice
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina A top official lambasted the International Monetary Fund yesterday, expressing irritation with the IMF’s monitoring of the country’s economic crisis.
Speaking on the radio, Deputy Economy Minister Jorge Todesca said the government was working hard to devise a plan to arrest a devastating 4-year-old recession that has pushed the jobless rate to nearly 20 percent and brought violent street protests.
“Frankly, we don’t need an IMF official telling us every two minutes what course of action we should take,” Mr. Todesca declared.
IMF Deputy Managing Director Anne Krueger told reporters Friday that the agency did not believe the dual exchange rate system instituted by Argentina’s new populist government could be sustained.
Weighty passenger stuck under table
LONDON An overweight train passenger caused heavy delays on a busy British rail network after he became stuck underneath a table, a north England train operator said yesterday.
The man was thought to have dozed off and slipped from his seat underneath the table. When he awoke at Manchester Airport he realized he was stuck beneath the bolted-down table and had to ask for help from train staff.
Several Arriva Trains Northern workers tried to free the stricken passenger but eventually called in the fire service, who took around 45 minutes to remove the table and free the man