- The Washington Times - Monday, November 11, 2002

Cyprus plan due today
NICOSIA, Cyprus U.N. officials plan to hand leaders of Cyprus' Greek and Turkish communities a comprehensive peace plan today to end the island's 28-year division, setting off a 30-day race for a settlement before a European Union summit next month.
A senior aide of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is to meet with Turkish Cypriot official Ergun Olgun in New York at 3 p.m. today to give him a copy of the U.N. blueprint, a Turkish Cypriot diplomat told Agence France-Presse. U.N. Cyprus envoy Alvaro de Soto is to deliver the plan to Greek Cypriot leader Glafcos Clerides in Nicosia at the same time.
Delivery of the U.N. blueprint, which is believed to run about 150 pages, follows nearly 11 months of head-to-head talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders, in which no progress was publicly announced.
The blueprint to be revealed today is believed to propose reunification of the island on the model of Belgium, where separate governments for Flemish- and French-speaking communities are represented internationally by one umbrella state.

Arabs ask for timeline
RAMALLAH, West Bank The Palestinian leadership called yesterday for a "binding timeline" on an international peace plan to set up a state.
It said it wanted international observers deployed in the territories to oversee compliance with the plan, which calls for an independent Palestinian state in three years. "It is not possible to go forward as long as [Jewish] settlements are expanding on our land," said a statement after a Cabinet meeting here headed by Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat.
"It is not possible to allow the peace process to depend on one individual or group that has no interest in peace or security," the statement said, referring to the Israeli caretaker government in power until elections early next year.
The "road map" provides for a de facto Palestinian state to be established next year with provisional borders. U.S. Middle East envoy David Satterfield is due in Israel today and later in the Palestinian territories to discuss the plan drawn up by the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.

Pope lauds mountains
VATICAN CITY Pope John Paul II, an avid skier and hiker until age slowed him down, has called on nature lovers to protect mountains and their environment.
Noting that the United Nations has declared 2002 to be the year of the mountain, John Paul made saving mountains a key part of his remarks yesterday to pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter's Square.
"Mountains have always been able to fascinate the human spirit, so much so that in the Bible they were considered a special place to meet God," said the pope, who has spent many summer vacations in the Italian Alps.
This month, participants at a summit about mountain problems, held in Kyrgyzstan, said that mountain people do not get a fair share of the benefits of global development, and that overuse has endangered fragile alpine ecosystems.
A study issued by the U.N. Environment Program and the World Conservation Monitoring Center found that many mountain environments are fast disappearing because of excessive use of natural resources, improper construction, deforestation and natural hazards.

Mushrooms vs. opium
DUSHANBE, Tajikistan Tajik and Uzbek researchers have created a genetically modified "killer mushroom" that could wipe out the heroin industry in Afghanistan, says Tajik biologist Shavkat Saidmuradov.
Experiments financed by the United Nations as part of its war on drugs have shown the efficacy of the polyspore papavericide in destroying the opium poppy on which heroin is based, Mr. Saidmuradov said.
Tests at an altitude of 8,000 feet amid sharp fluctuations in temperature and high exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays show the killer mushroom is especially effective in the early stages of the poppy's growth.
Mr. Saidmuradov said a further benefit of the mushroom is that it has no harmful effects on the environment or other plants.
Correspondent Betsy Pisik is on assignment. Her column will resume when she returns.

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