- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 3, 2002

Cuban assembly ignores dissident reform petition
HAVANA Cuba's National Assembly met for one day yesterday but did not discuss a pending dissident petition for moderate reforms of the island's one-party communist state.
The rubber-stamp legislature, which meets twice a year for a few days, unanimously approved a law granting private agricultural cooperatives greater profit incentives to spur food production on the economically battered island.
On Thursday dissidents called on the assembly to debate a petition for political and economic reforms that they presented in May, backed by more than 11,000 signatures. But assembly members said it was not on the agenda yesterday.
President Fidel Castro, whose government has so far ignored the petition known as the Varela Project, lashed out at his enemies at the opening session of the 600-member assembly. "There is no oxygen for counterrevolution," he said.

Iran said to detain bin Laden's son
LONDON Iranian security forces have detained one of Osama bin Laden's sons among several hundred people suspected of links to the al Qaeda terror network, the Financial Times reported on its Web site yesterday.
Citing an unidentified Iranian official, the newspaper said Iran had handed bin Laden's son over to authorities in either Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.
Bin Laden has at least 23 children by several wives. Saad bin Laden, who is about 22 and one of the oldest, has emerged as an al Qaeda leader and one of the United State's top two dozen targets in the network. Mohammed and Ahmed bin Laden also support their father's efforts, U.S. officials say.

Moscow rally demands extradition of Chechen
MOSCOW Russian lawmakers turned up the pressure on Denmark yesterday, demonstrating outside the country's embassy to warn it that Moscow will not drop its demand for the extradition of a detained Chechen rebel envoy.
Akhmed Zakayev, a top aide to Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov, was arrested Wednesday in Denmark at Russia's request on suspicion of helping plan terrorist activities, including last month's 58-hour seizure of a packed Moscow theater, which resulted in the deaths of at least 119 hostages.
The Danish justice minister told Russia on Friday that Copenhagen needed more evidence to extradite Mr. Zakayev. Russia's Prosecutor General's Office said yesterday that more material was being prepared.

China backs accord on Spratly Islands
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia China has reached an agreement with five other Asian governments on a plan to end their long-standing conflict over areas of the South China Sea, clearing the way for formal approval tomorrow.
Diplomats said the agreement came late Friday, after key concessions from both China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Those territories include the Spratly Islands, claimed in whole or in part by ASEAN members Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Vietnam, plus China and Taiwan. Also contested are Scarborough Shoal, claimed by the Philippines and China, and the Paracel Islands, disputed by China and Vietnam.

Thousands march in Ivory Coast
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast Tens of thousands of people marched in Ivory Coast's main city, Abidjan, yesterday to back President Laurent Gbagbo as rebel and government negotiators took a break from talks to end the war in the West African country.
The march came a day after rebel and government negotiators in Togo's capital, Lome, took some small steps toward ending a conflict that has threatened regional stability.
Talks to reach a final peace deal after four weeks of fighting sparked by a failed Sept. 19 coup were expected to resume tomorrow.

Americans evacuated from CAR over coup
BANGUI, Central African Republic Americans were evacuated today with coup forces reportedly in control of roads out of the Central African Republic capital. Fears of new fighting ran high in the tense city as it ran short of food.
A U.S. Air Force C-130 cargo plane carried out more than two dozen people U.S. Embassy workers, other Americans, and other foreign nationals a spokesman at the U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, said.
The Central African Republic is a former French colony rich in diamonds, gold and uranium and has weathered nine coups or coup attempts since independence in 1960. The latest uprising came Oct. 25, when backers of former army chief Francois Bozize launched an offensive that closed in on President Ange-Felix Patasse's residence.

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