- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 15, 2002

Sri Lanka gets pledge of China's military aid

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka China pledged to provide military assistance to Sri Lanka in line with an agreement sealed during the current visit to Beijing by Colombo's defense minister, the Foreign Ministry announced.

Minister Tilak Marapone, who has been in China since Sunday on a weeklong visit, concluded the agreement on Tuesday in talks with his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Chi Haotian, the ministry said.

"At the end of the talks, an agreement for the provision of military assistance gratis to Sri Lanka was signed by the two ministers," it said without giving details of the accord.

Military sources here said Sri Lanka has been eager to obtain Chinese help in upgrading the island's navy and preventing weapons smuggling by Tamil Tiger rebels. China is a key supplier of small arms and gunboats to the Sri Lankan military.

Pakistan judge refuses to call Pearl's widow

HYDERABAD, Pakistan A judge in Pakistan has dismissed a move by defense lawyers to summon the widow of slain reporter Daniel Pearl to testify in the trial of four men accused of his kidnapping and murder.

Chief Prosecutor Raja Quereshi said Thursday the motion was dropped for lack of jurisdiction since Mariane Pearl lives in Paris. Defense lawyers asked that she travel to London to testify before a special panel.

Mr. Quereshi said the defense was seeking to slow down the trial, which has dragged on more than six weeks. Prosecutors hoped to make their closing arguments by the end of this week.

Burma shells rebels along Thai border

CHIANG MAI, Thailand Burmese troops continued shelling camps controlled by the rebel Shan State Army (SSA) along the Thai border on Thursday, but attacks were less intense than earlier this week, SSA sources said.

"We can see clearly that the attacks from government forces have slowed since late Wednesday," spokeswoman Nang Khur Hsen said by telephone from the border.

Burma's troops and their allies, the United Wa State Army (UWSA), are trying to recapture border bases that Rangoon says were overrun by the rebels last month.

Weekly notes

Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi urged a crowd that gathered to see her in Rangoon at midweek to persevere in their struggle for democracy. In an impromptu speech to some 1,000 people outside the National League for Democracy (NLD) office in the township of Taketha, Mrs. Suu Kyi said the advent of democracy depended on the people themselves. Nepal requested help from the U.N. International Civil Aviation Organization on Thursday to find the wreckage of a helicopter carrying 10 persons that vanished two weeks ago while carrying climbers to an airport near Mount Everest. The craft, carrying eight Nepalese and two Russian crew members, lost contact nine minutes after taking off May 31 from Makalu base camp in northwestern Nepal.

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