- The Washington Times - Friday, June 28, 2002

Colombian militias back Venezuelan allies

BOGOTA, Colombia Outlawed paramilitaries yesterday declared support for what they said was a new far-right militia formed in neighboring Venezuela to wage "civil resistance" against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia a 10,000-member force known by the Spanish initials AUC said in a letter it supported a Venezuelan sister group that announced its creation in a video sent to Colombian television earlier this week.


Musharraf takes heat for basic law plans

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf faced a torrent of criticism yesterday about proposed constitutional changes that would give him sweeping new powers to dictate the country's affairs.

Gen. Musharraf, 58, announced proposals on Wednesday that would allow him to sack a civilian prime minister, fire the Cabinet and dissolve an elected parliament.

The draft constitutional amendments, presented as a package for national debate, also include plans for a powerful 10-member National Security Council of generals and civilians headed by Gen. Musharraf .


Ailing leader creates election confusion

ANKARA, Turkey In his first public address in two months, Turkey's ailing prime minister appeared yesterday to call for early elections, but later backtracked and said there would be no balloting until 2004.

The address, in which 77-year-old Bulent Ecevit repeatedly confused similar words, left opposition deputies demanding new elections.

"I don't want early elections, but elections appear to be on the horizon," Mr. Ecevit told members of his Democratic Left Party. But he later told reporters that "an election before April 2004 is out of the question."


Karzai vows to tame Afghan warlords

KABUL, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai vowed yesterday to put Afghanistan's warlords out of business and called for international peacekeepers to be deployed in the unruly north.

Mr. Karzai also called for billions of dollars pledged in foreign aid to arrive immediately, saying his new government was unable to start rebuilding the war-torn country without the money.

"The main challenge is to finish warlordism. That is a very, very clear demand of Afghan people," Mr. Karzai said in an interview with Reuters news agency.


Investors shun biggest diamond ever

PARIS The largest single-crystal diamond ever offered on the world market failed to find a buyer yesterday, with its French auctioneers blaming volatile markets.

The 179-carat diamond, the Vulcan, failed to provoke interest at its opening price of $400,000, a third of the price the sellers had been hoping for.


U.N. report says China faces AIDS epidemic

BEIJING China is on the brink of an "explosive" AIDS epidemic and could have 10 million infected people by the end of the decade, according to a U.N. study released yesterday.

The report urged the Chinese government to spend more on education and prevention.


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