- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 23, 2002

India won't attend Sri Lankan talks
NEW DELHI India will not send a political representative to a meeting in Oslo next week where international donors are expected to pledge support for Sri Lanka's peace process, officials announced.
"India has decided not to have any political or headquarter-level representation in the donor conference in Oslo but may ask someone from the Indian mission there to participate," Foreign Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said Thursday in New Delhi.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebel group was outlawed by India in 1992 after the LTTE's chief, Velupillai Prabhakaran, was held responsible for the May 1991 assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Anti-crime deaths rise in Bangladesh
DHAKA, Bangladesh Another person died Thursday during Bangladesh's anti-crime drive, bringing the death toll in the army-led operation that began last month to 27, police said.
Police said Tofu Mia had fired at police Wednesday and was hit by a passing vehicle when he tried to flee. He was taken to a hospital where he died of his injuries the next day.
Prime Minister Khaleda Zia sent thousands of troops into the streets Oct. 17 after admitting her Islamist-allied coalition had not lived up to its promise to reduce violence in its first year in power. The crackdown has been criticized by human rights groups and the United States.

Iran tries Afghans in prostitution ring
TEHRAN A group of Afghan Baluch tribesmen has gone on trial in Iran on charges of luring scores of destitute young girls to work as sex slaves in Pakistan. A senior judicial source told AFP by telephone from Mashhad that the gang has been charged with seeking out poor Iranian families and offering to marry young girls.
The girls, some as young as 12, were then whisked away from Iran's northeast Khorasan province, via Afghanistan, to work in Pakistan. "We have managed to arrest 50 out of 200 people" believed to be a part of the gang, said the court source in Mashhad.
Twenty of the girls have already been returned to Iran.

Weekly notes
Burma's ruling junta said it began freeing a group of 115 political prisoners Thursday, the biggest single release since U.N.-brokered reconciliation talks began two years ago. The prisoner release came as pressure mounted on the government to advance a reconciliation process, which U.N. envoy Razali Ismail began two years ago, with the opposition led by Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Since then, more than 400 dissidents have been freed in small batches, but the junta has reneged on promises to begin political talks with the opposition. Rival warlords in northern Afghanistan held crisis talks Thursday as an earlier disarmament deal looked about to collapse. A U.N. spokesman said Uzbek strongman Abdul Rashid Dostum met with regional commander Atta Mohammed late Wednesday and Thursday to shore up their uneasy alliance. Talks at Mazar-e-Sharif on Wednesday were also attended by U.N. and U.S. officials.
From wire dispatches and staff reports


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