- The Washington Times - Friday, December 19, 2003


U.N. chief urges more peacekeepers

NEW YORK — World governments must send more peacekeeping troops to Afghanistan or risk seeing the central Asian nation crumble into chaos, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has warned.

If the security situation does not improve, “we may lose Afghanistan,” he told a news conference Thursday. Mr. Annan had been asked if he agreed with his special envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, who said recently the United Nations might leave Afghanistan if security could not be ensured.

“I think it was legitimate that he sounded the alarm, and I urge member states to … help us in improving security in Afghanistan so that we can get on with our work,” Mr. Annan said.


Moratorium put on executions

ASTANA — Kazakhstan, lauded by the West for its economic reforms but criticized for slow democratic changes, has moved closer to European standards by imposing a moratorium on executions.

“A decree has been signed to impose a moratorium on the death penalty in the Republic of Kazakhstan,” Igor Rogov, deputy chief of presidential staff, told reporters Thursday. He said President Nursultan Nazarbayev had signed the decree a day earlier.


Migrant workers evicted from Thailand

BANGKOK — More than 200 striking Burmese migrant workers were expelled from Thailand this week after police and labor authorities stormed a temple where they had sought refuge, aid workers and factory owners said.

The migrants were fired by Nasawat Apparel Company in Mae Sot along Thailand’s western border with Burma after confronting their employer for breaking a contract, refusing to pay the minimum wage, and withholding two years of back pay.

Weekly notes

Visiting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Christina Rocca has expressed concern about human rights abuses in Nepal. Mrs. Rocca met Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa on Tuesday and the chief of the Nepalese army, Gen. Pyarjung Thapa, who requested further military assistance, including surveillance equipment, on Wednesday. Nepal’s army, armed police and Maoist rebels have all been accused of human rights abuses by foreign and local groups. … Comedian and film star Robin Williams flew into Afghanistan on Thursday to entertain American troops and bring some comic relief from their hunt for Taliban militants. Mr. Williams, who played a motormouth military DJ in the 1987 film “Good Morning, Vietnam,” had soldiers laughing heartily as he did a one-man comedy routine in a large tent at Bagram air base north of Kabul.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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