- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Bulgaria's NATO bid costs $35 million


The Bulgarian government has allocated $35 million to prepare for NATO membership, in hopes of an invitation at the alliance's Prague summit in November, Finance Minister Milen Velchev said yesterday.

Mr. Velchev, who visited Washington as part of Bulgaria's lobbying effort to secure U.S. backing for its candidacy, said in an interview that his country's military spending, which totals 3 percent of its gross domestic product, is the highest among the 10 former communist nations in line for membership.

"There are no financial requirements, but we want the United States and the other NATO allies to know how important the modernizing of our military and becoming a NATO member are," he said.


Morocco arrests 3 more in suspected terror plot

RABAT, Morocco Morocco has arrested three more Moroccans suspected of plotting attacks on U.S. and British warships on behalf of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda group, a security investigator said yesterday.

He said the three men, who included a policeman and court clerk, were arrested over the weekend and were in custody at a Casablanca jail along with three Saudis and four Moroccans arrested earlier on suspicion of links to the suspected plot.


Pakistani police raid Islamic schools

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan Pakistani police investigating deadly bombings at the U.S. Consulate and a hotel in Karachi raided more religious schools and other targets yesterday, prompting angry protests from Islamic fundamentalists.

In the past three days, Pakistani security agencies, working with the FBI, have rounded up at least 52 Islamic militants in raids on homes, seminaries, mosques and offices in the eastern city of Lahore, police and Interior Ministry officials said.

Most of the suspects are believed to belong to two banned Muslim extremist groups Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba.


Top generals back Kostunica on firing

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia Top generals lined up behind President Vojislav Kostunica yesterday, endorsing his choice for the new chief of staff of the Yugoslav military and indirectly his decision to fire his predecessor.

The move signaled a victory for Mr. Kostunica and defeat for Col. Gen. Nebojsa Pavkovic, who had defied a presidential order issued Monday to retire as chief of staff.

About 20 key generals and admirals said in a statement they were "completely united in supporting" Col. Gen. Branko Krga, now caretaker chief of staff of the Yugoslav army.


Islamic world urged to change image

KHARTOUM, Sudan The Muslim world risks being "even more marginalized than we are at present" if it fails to close social and economic gaps with developed nations, Sudanese President Omar Bashir said yesterday.

Mr. Bashir also called for reform of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in remarks to foreign ministers and senior officials from the 57 Muslim nations meeting in the Sudanese capital.

He said the OIC, the world's only pan-Islamic body, needed to be overhauled so it could "lead joint Islamic endeavors toward the horizons we all aspire for."


Iran accepts U.S. aid to help quake victims

ABDARE, Iran President Mohammed Khatami said yesterday Iran would accept the U.S. government's offer of humanitarian aid after a powerful earthquake killed 229 persons and left thousands homeless.

"Yes, help is help," he said when asked if Iran would accept the U.S. offer of aid.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher confirmed that Iran officially had accepted the U.S. offer.

The United States, through the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, has offered food, temporary housing and water-purification equipment.

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