- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 5, 2002

Russia to reduce military by 15 percent

MOSCOW Russia will reduce its military by more than 15 percent to 1 million troops this year, but the cuts will not affect the nation's combat readiness, a senior officer said yesterday.

Col. Gen. Nikolai Kormiltsev, the supreme commander of Russian ground forces, told the Interfax news agency that Russia would still be able to defend "potentially dangerous Southwestern and Central Asian strategic lines."

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made military reform one of his main goals, over opposition from many senior officers who want to keep up a Soviet-style, large armed force despite Moscow's lack of cash to support it.

Journalist's visit to Israel criticized

AMMAN, Jordan Jordan's press association is probing motives behind a visit to Israel by a senior journalist during which he interviewed Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, the union's vice president said yesterday.

"We received a complaint from the union's anti-normalization committee over the visit to Israel by Abdullah Attum, which violates the laws" of the Jordanian press union and the Arab journalists' union, Tareq Momeni said.

Mr. Attum, editor in chief of the weekly Al Hilal newspaper, could be brought before the union's disciplinary council, which would then decide whether to acquit him, freeze his membership for a specific period of time or expel him from the union, he said.

During the trip in mid-December, Mr. Attum interviewed separately Mr. Peres and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. The interviews were published by the paper on the same day in late December, he said.

Zambian opposition calls vote protest

LUSAKA, Zambia Zambia's leading opposition party called yesterday for nonviolent demonstrations against newly elected President Levy Mwanawasa, charging that his party rigged the election.

The opposition Forum for Democracy and Development published a notice calling for peaceful protests in the independent Post newspaper yesterday, a day after police warned they would invoke public order laws to quell violence that might arise in demonstrations.

The Public Order Act lets police arrest anyone demonstrating without a permit. Permission to hold protests must be granted 14 days in advance.

Colombia talks with rebels snag

BOGOTA, Colombia The government and Colombia's largest rebel army wrapped up two days of talks yesterday locked in a bitter dispute about military patrols around the guerrillas' main stronghold.

No agreements were announced, but the negotiations aimed at reviving the peace process were scheduled to resume tomorrow or Monday, presidential peace commissioner Camilo Gomez announced.

Earlier in the day, the FARC issued a stern statement that the military's insistence on security patrols was "shutting down any possibility" of resurrecting the peace talks. The rebels accused top military commanders of having a "warmongering attitude."

Rare snowfall disrupts Greece

ATHENS A storm front brought rare snowfall to the Greek capital and to Turkey's Aegean and Mediterranean coasts yesterday, disrupting some air travel and causing traffic chaos.

Northeastern parts of neighboring Bulgaria were buried by more than 3 feet of snow. Army vehicles were dispatched to rescue stranded cars and clear the way to isolated villages.

Blizzards in northeastern Romania caused chaos and five pregnant women were forced to give birth at home after being unable to reach hospitals. The mothers and their newborns were in good condition, health inspector Critian Irimie said.

Turkey's coastal provinces saw snow for the first time in nearly 10 years, with storms paralyzing traffic in the city of Istanbul. The Istanbul stock exchange canceled trading, and the airport temporarily suspended flights.

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