- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 26, 2002

Russia has plans for Burmese reactor

MOSCOW Russia has drafted a plan to build a nuclear power reactor in military-ruled Burma despite strong U.S. objections, Russian news agencies report.

"The draft has been coordinated with other [government] agencies and the government might approve it in the first quarter of this year," Interfax and RIA-Novosti quoted an unnamed government official as saying.

The United States warned Burma, whose generals call the country Myanmar, on Tuesday against ignoring its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, after Rangoon signaled it intended to build a nuclear reactor with Russian help.

Tamil rebels welcome new government hints

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka Tamil Tiger rebels at the center of an ethnic war in Sri Lanka said Thursday it was encouraged by a government statement that it was considering lifting a ban on the rebels.

It would help pave the way toward peace talks, said the rebels.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said this week he was considering revoking the ban on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a key rebel demand.

"The deproscription of the LTTE will be a recognition of the legitimacy of the Tamil people's struggle," Anton Balasingham, the Tiger's chief negotiator, was quoted as saying by the pro-LTTE Internet site https://www.tamilnet.com.

Earlier, Tamilnet reported that Norwegian mediators held talks with Tamil Tiger rebels in London this week on a possible cease-fire in Sri Lanka's 18-year civil war.

Russians to search for Afghanistan missing

MOSCOW Russia will resume a search for almost 200 of its soldiers who went missing in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, according to former Ingush leader Ruslan Aushev.

According to Mr. Aushev, now head of a Commonwealth of Independent States veterans committee, "189 soldiers and officers of the former Soviet army have been missing since the end of that war."

He said former Afghan resistance leader Ahmed Shah Masood, who was killed by two suicide bombers on Sept. 9, had promised to help Russia find the men.

The committee hopes to establish contact with Afghanistan's new interim leaders and begin a hunt for "Russian prisoners or their graves," a move that had been blocked by the former Taliban rulers.

Weekly notes

India has named a career diplomat to head its embassy in Afghanistan, which re-opened last month. Vivek Katju, currently ambassador to Burma, will move to Kabul shortly, a Foreign Ministry statement said. … Sri Lanka's army chief, Lionel Balagalle, apologized to the country's Buddhist hierarchy Thursday over a clash a day earlier between his men and police outside the country's holiest Buddhist shrine, the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy. Troops smashed police vehicles after a traffic cop got into an argument with an army driver. Police fired in the air as dozens of army men broke police barricades protecting the temple and beat up policemen.

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