- The Washington Times - Friday, March 1, 2002

Saudis backtrack on peace plan

NEW YORK Saudi Arabia appeared to distance itself from its own Mideast peace plan when the kingdom's ambassador to the United Nations sidestepped an opportunity to explain it to the U.N. Security Council.

Crown Prince Abdullah recently told a New York Times columnist that the Arab world would make peace with Israel if the Jewish state withdrew to its pre-1967 borders a suggestion that drew support from the United States.

But in a widely anticipated speech to the Security Council Wednesday night, in which Saudi Ambassador Fawzi Shubukshi was expected to elaborate on the proposal, he barely mentioned it. Instead, he delivered a blistering attack on Israel:

"No one can deny that what the Palestinian people are undergoing in the occupied territories is one of the worst forms of injustice inflicted by man, one of the worst examples of pressure and persecution and racism and systematic oppression in the history of mankind," Mr. Shubukshi said.

"The objective of Israel was and remains the expulsion of the Arab people from Palestine," he said.

Colombia widens drive against rebels

BOGOTA, Colombia President Andres Pastrana expanded the military's powers yesterday in a vast southern region as rebels intensified their campaign to bomb the country into darkness by sabotaging power stations.

Mr. Pastrana's decree, which falls just short of martial law, takes immediate effect in 19 towns in six states. It gives the army authority to register civilians, impose curfews, set roadblocks and regulate businesses' hours of operation.

The newly declared "Theater of Operations" encompasses a former rebel safe haven and extends to just 45 miles south of the capital, Bogota, where the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, reportedly plans to attack electricity plants and other infrastructure targets.

U.S. bombs Iraqi sites in no-fly zone

ANKARA, Turkey U.S. planes patrolling a no-fly zone over northern Iraq bombed an air-defense system yesterday in response to Iraqi anti-aircraft fire, the U.S. military said. It was the second time this year that U.S. planes have bombed air-defense sites in the north.

The planes dropped bombs after Iraqi forces fired on them during routine patrols, the U.S. European Command said in a statement. It said the forces that fired on the planes were located north of Mosul, a city 250 miles north of Baghdad.

The planes returned safely to their base at Incirlik in southern Turkey, the German-based command said.

Kosovar Albanians agree to share power

PRISTINA, Kosovo Kosovo's main ethnic-Albanian parties overcame differences and pledged yesterday to share power, breaking a stalemate that had delayed self-rule for the Yugoslav province since a November general election.

They agreed that Ibrahim Rugova, veteran leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo, would be elected president of Kosovo by its new assembly, while the prime minister would be from a party with its roots in the guerrilla group that fought Serbian rule.

Under the deal, the new prime minister will be Bajram Rexhepi, a senior member of the Democratic Party of Kosovo.

Italy cracks down on illegal immigrants

ROME Italy's Senate yesterday approved a tough new anti-immigration bill proposed by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's conservative government, which has been condemned by the opposition as intolerant.

The Senate voted 153 to 96 for the bill, which now passes to the lower-house Chamber of Deputies, where the government's large majority will almost certainly ensure it becomes law.

The bill toughens legislation on illegal immigration and introduces harsh prison sentences for those who return after being expelled.

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