- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 2, 2002

Sri Lanka peace talks focus on security

NAKORN PATHOM, Thailand Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tiger rebels finished a second day of talks seeking to end two decades of war yesterday by agreeing to boost security measures in the volatile east of the Indian Ocean island.

The negotiations at a palm-lined resort west of the Thai capital, Bangkok, went ahead smoothly even though there had been worries because a Colombo court Thursday had sentenced the leader of the rebels, in absentia, to 200 years in jail.

Karnataka farmers arrested in water spat

BANGALORE, India More than 40 farmers were arrested in the southern Indian state of Karnataka two days ago for violating a curfew imposed following a long-running water row with a neighboring state, police said.

B.P. Kaniram, deputy commissioner of Mandya district, where farmers went on a rampage Wednesday, burning government vehicles and leading police to fire tear-gas shells, said the farmers held street protests Thursday in defiance of the curfew.

Recently, a farmer committed suicide by jumping into a reservoir in Mandya, 62 miles southwest of Bangalore, the state capital, to protest a Karnataka government decision to release water to Tamil Nadu state.

Letter bombs sent to 3 Burmese embassies

RANGOON, Burma The military government said its embassies in Japan, Malaysia and Singapore received letter bombs this week, prompting an upgrade in security at home and abroad.

"We can deduce that this is the work of a dissident group residing in our neighboring country, as all the letters had Bangkok postmarks," junta spokesman Lt. Col. Nyan Lin told reporters on Thursday.

The first of the packages, all sent Oct. 28-30, was received in Tokyo on the same day that former dissident leader and U.S. resident Moe Thee Zun arrived there, he said.

All were defused without causing casualties, he said.

Weekly notes

Pakistan's self-exiled ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto directed her Pakistan People's Party this week to stay united amid widespread reports of government efforts to strike a deal with party members to sideline her. "You were elected on the tickets of the PPP and you will remain as members of the PPP, as one force," Mrs. Bhutto said in a telephone address from the United States. Her appeal came three weeks after elections intended to restore civilian rule resulted in a hung parliament. The parties are still deadlocked in efforts to form a governing coalition. A son-in-law of former Afghan Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has been arrested in Islamabad, Pakistan's capital, by U.S. and Pakistani agents, a security official said. Dr. Ghairat Baheer was picked up in a pre-dawn raid Tuesday at his Islamabad residence by American FBI agents and local intelligence operatives. Mr. Hekmatyar has called at least twice in recent months for holy war against U.S.-led coalition troops in Afghanistan hunting al Qaeda and Taliban remnants.

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