- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 22, 2003

BANGLADESH
Ferry sinks with 300 aboard
DHAKA A river ferry carrying more than 300 passengers sank during a tropical storm yesterday near the Bangladeshi capital, and at least 50 bodies were recovered, police said.
Police and fire brigade divers continued searching for survivors in the Buriganga River in Narayanganj, Officer Sharif Shamsul Huq said, adding that the casualty figure is likely to increase because many passengers remained missing.
Several passengers managed to swim ashore or were rescued, Officer Huq said.
Tropical storms are common this time of year in Bangladesh, a delta nation of 130 million people.

PAKISTAN
Islamabad ready for talks with India
ISLAMABAD Pakistan said yesterday that it was ready to hold talks with India at the earliest opportunity and at any level without any prerequisites.
Foreign Minister Mian Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri told reporters in the southern city of Karachi that Pakistan also would urge the United States to help the two nuclear-capable neighbors resolve their dispute over the Himalayan region of Kashmir.
His remarks came in the wake of a recent announcement by U.S. officials that Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage might visit India and Pakistan in the next several weeks.

SRI LANKA
Rebels pull out of peace talks
COLOMBO Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels yesterday pulled out of talks to end two decades of civil war, the biggest threat yet to the island's best chance of ending the fighting that has killed more than 64,000 people.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, said in a statement that they were committed to a negotiated end to the war, but were unhappy about being excluded from an aid-donor planning meeting, as well as about a lack of progress in improving living conditions for minority Tamils.
The pullout came eight days before the Tamils and the government were to have sat down in Thailand for talks.

VENEZUELA
Charges by Colombia brushed aside
CARACAS Venezuela yesterday dismissed renewed charges by Colombia that it was sheltering leftist guerrillas, intensifying a dispute over border security two days before a bilateral presidential meeting.
President Hugo Chavez and his Colombian counterpart, Alvaro Uribe, are due to meet tomorrow in Venezuela to try to defuse the dispute over the frontier and shore up ties battered by economic and political problems in both countries.
Relations between the two Andean neighbors have been strained by accusations from Colombia that Mr. Chavez's government is allowing Colombian Marxist rebels to operate from Venezuelan territory.

AZERBAIJAN
President collapsesduring ceremony
BAKU Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev fell ill twice yesterday during a live broadcast on state television, collapsing during the second episode and hitting his head, witnesses said.
On both occasions, the 79-year-old Mr. Aliyev returned to continue his speech.
During a ceremony in the capital, Baku, to mark the 30th anniversary of a military academy, Mr. Aliyev suddenly clutched his chest and complained of pain.
A witness in the hall said the president stumbled, but aides caught him before he fell. People surrounding him called for a doctor before Mr. Aliyev was taken away.

RUSSIA
Poland seeks military agreement
MOSCOW Polish Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski will arrive in Russia today for a two-day visit aimed at striking a military-cooperation agreement with his counterpart, Sergei Ivanov.
The deal will focus on repairs and improvement by Russia of armaments Poland bought from the Soviet Union, Itar-Tass reported without issuing financial details of the deal.
The news agency said the two ministers would also discuss issues of "European and international security," as well as the war on terror and the conflict in Iraq.

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