- The Washington Times - Friday, January 18, 2002

U.N. urges Russia to cut troops in Chechnya

VLADIKAVKAZ, Russia The U.N. refugee chief urged Russia yesterday to turn over police duties in breakaway Chechnya to Chechen officers and slash the number of federal checkpoints to encourage frightened refugees to return home.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers, who toured refugee camps in the Russian republic of Ingushetia on Wednesday, held talks in Moscow yesterday with officials from the Emergency Situations Ministry and with Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov. Mr. Gryzlov is in charge of Russia's police and several troop units in Chechnya.

AIDS crusader begins quest for presidency

BRASILIA, Brazil Brazil's Health Minister Jose Serra, who took on pharmaceutical and tobacco giants over AIDS drugs and smoking, began his candidacy for president yesterday, hoping to catch up in polls and lead the ruling coalition in the October elections.

To applause and fanfare, the high-profile Mr. Serra told a crowded auditorium in Congress that he was the candidate of continuity for Brazil's 170 million people after President Fernando Henrique Cardoso's two terms of unprecedented stability and free-market reforms.

Analysts have called Mr. Serra, 59, dull and lacking in charisma, and he is badly behind in opinion polls.

Saddam: Iraq ready for U.S. attack

BAGHDAD On the 11th anniversary of the Persian Gulf war, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said yesterday his country is prepared for and would foil any fresh U.S. military attack as part of the war against terrorism.

In a televised speech to the nation, Saddam said the experience that Iraq had gained from the Gulf war in which a U.S.-led coalition drove Iraqi forces out of Kuwait and bombed Iraq would enable it to repulse any new military campaign.

Iraq survived the Gulf war and would be able to survive other military action, he said, but he prayed God would spare Iraq military confrontation with America.

British House takes up women's issues

LONDON For the first time in the 600-year history of Britain's House of Commons, a Cabinet minister dedicated a formal question-and-answer period to women's issues yesterday but before a mostly male audience of lawmakers.

Just 21 of Parliament's 118 female lawmakers were present to hear Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt, who is responsible for women's issues, respond to queries on child care, equal pay and flexible working arrangements. She spoke for 10 minutes out of the hour allotted on Thursdays for trade and industry questions.

It was the first time a minister for women has been allotted a section of question time, when legislators get a chance to query the government on behalf of their constituents.

Volcanic eruption destroys Congo villages

GOMA, Congo A volcano in eastern Congo erupted yesterday, sending out plumes of ash and three rivers of lava that destroyed 14 villages near the border with Rwanda.

The sky around Mount Nyiragongo began glowing red, and ash fell on the nearby town of Goma before dawn yesterday. Three lava flows were then detected, two coming down the mountain's east side and one down the west.

Thousands were left homeless when the lava destroyed their villages. Most fled to Goma, 30 miles south of the volcano, while hundreds of others tried to enter neighboring Rwanda, but were turned away by border guards.

Dalai Lama recovering from exhaustion

PATNA, India After two days of treatment for exhaustion and stomach pain, the Dalai Lama left a hotel yesterday and flew to a gathering at Bodhgaya, where Buddhists believe the founder of their religion gained enlightenment.

The Dalai Lama, who had been suffering from low blood pressure and gastroenteritis, was taken in a state government helicopter to Bodhgaya, after leaving Patna, capital of eastern Bihar state.

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