- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 19, 2003

COLOMBIA
Clash kills 29 near U.S. forces
BOGOTA At least 29 Marxist rebels and paramilitary militia members have been killed in a clash in a lawless area of Colombia near where crack U.S. soldiers are training local troops, officials said yesterday.
The fighting over the weekend in the eastern, oil-rich province of Arauca was a blow to President Alvaro Uribe, who has turned Arauca into a showcase of his security policies to crack down on violence after four decades of war.
The 70 U.S. Special Forces, part of Washington's expanding military assistance to the war-torn country, are training a Colombian brigade to protect an oil pipeline.

SAUDI ARABIA
Prince announces terrorism crackdown
RIYADH Saudi Arabia, facing U.S. criticism for laxness on fighting terrorism, said yesterday that it has referred 90 Saudis to trial for suspected al Qaeda links, and that 250 Saudi suspects were under investigation.
The announcement from Interior Minister Prince Nayef, reported in the kingdom's Arabic-language newspaper Okaz, was the first word of Saudi court proceedings connected to post-September 11 terror crackdowns.
Prince Nayef also said more than 150 Saudi suspects, including one being sought by the United States, had been released.

PERU
Former spy chief goes on trial
LIMA Vladimiro Montesinos, the former spy chief who was once Peru's most feared man, went on trial yesterday on one charge at a Lima prison guarded by hundreds of elite police commandos armed with automatic weapons.
Mr. Montesinos, 57, faces a charge of influence peddling, a minor offense among the dozens of counts before him that range from corruption to drug trafficking, arms dealing and directing a death squad.
Mr. Montesinos, the most trusted aide to former President Alberto Fujimori, was captured 20 months ago in Venezuela after escaping Peru on a friend's yacht.

BRITAIN
Prime minister to get audience with pope
LONDON British Prime Minister Tony Blair is expected to have a private audience with Pope John Paul II later this week, a political source said yesterday.
The two men do not see eye to eye on the issue of a potential U.S.-led attack on Iraq. Earlier this month, the pope urged the world not to resign itself to war in Iraq, saying a conflict could still be averted.

SOUTH AFRICA
Scientists to teach Iraq how to disarm
JOHANNESBURG South Africa named a team of seven scientists yesterday to go to Iraq to share expertise on disarmament, in a move Pretoria believes could help avert a U.S.-led war against Baghdad.
Iraq, facing threats of war from Washington if it fails to comply with U.N. demands to surrender any weapons of mass destruction, had accepted the offer of the team, officials said.
They said the scientists, who led South Africa's own voluntary program to shed all weapons of mass destruction, would fly to Baghdad.

BRITAIN
Mrs. Blair opposes husband on Gurkhas
LONDON Prime Minister Tony Blair's lawyer wife went to court yesterday to accuse her husband's government of racial discrimination against a group of former Nepalese soldiers from the British army's Gurkha units.
"This case concerns what we say is systematic and institutionalized less-favorable treatment of Gurkha soldiers … on the grounds of their race and nationality," Cherie Booth Blair told London's High Court.
She was representing seven former members of the Gurkhas a group that has been fighting for Britain since 1815 and numbers 3,517 within the British military.


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