- The Washington Times - Monday, January 13, 2003

LEBANON
Achille Lauro guerrilla forced to leave Cairo
BEIRUT A Palestinian guerrilla leader who masterminded the 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro, in which an American passenger was killed, said yesterday that he was forced to cut short a working trip to Cairo last week because the United States was looking for him.
The Iraq-backed Palestine Liberation Front said last week that its leader, Mohammed Abbas, was invited to Cairo for talks among various Palestinian groups that were sponsored by Egyptian authorities.
"We were unable to hold the talks in the desired manner because of the developments surrounding my presence in Cairo," Abbas, who is better known by his nom de guerre Abu Abbas, said from an undisclosed location. He did not say when he left Egypt.
Egyptian government spokesman Nabil Osman said Friday that he had "no information whatsoever" on a visit by Abbas to Egypt.

RUSSIA
Japanese leader wants to buy Russian oil
KHABAROVSK Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi ended a four-day visit to Russia yesterday, saying he wanted to open the Siberian region's vast oil reserves to his energy-hungry nation.
Mr. Koizumi arrived from Moscow, where he had urged President Vladimir Putin to proceed with projects to tap Siberia's energy resources and to build a pipeline from Siberia to the Pacific to help Japan reduce its reliance on oil from the Middle East.
"This region has great resources of energy," Mr. Koizumi said at a news conference yesterday. "Japan must import most of its oil from abroad. There is much that we can do for each other."

AFGHANISTAN
President forms panels to expand his rule
KABUL President Hamid Karzai has formed four commissions to accelerate the disarmament of warlord armies and rebuild the national army, his spokesman said yesterday.
Separate commissions will supervise disarmament and the reintegration of factional fighters, and the recruitment and training of the army, Sayed Fazl Akbar said.
These steps will enable Mr. Karzai to expand his authority beyond Kabul, where security is ensured by international peacekeepers.

EGYPT
Peace hopes in Sudan to expire, many fear
CAIRO A peace process aimed at ending Sudan's civil war could dissolve if the government and southern rebels do not reach a deal in the next six months, a U.S. envoy said yesterday.
"There are other things going on in the world, and if there is no progress in peace, the attention of the United States for sure is going to be lost," said former Sen. John Danforth, U.S. special envoy to Sudan.
"It is my personal view that [peace talks] have to be concluded within the next period of, say, six months or this is just going to disintegrate," he said after talks in Cairo.

TOGO
Ivory Coast rebels convene for peace talks
LOME Leaders of Ivory Coast's rebel factions flew into Togo aboard a French military plane yesterday to sign a truce halting a 4-month-old war ahead of peace talks in Paris.
A cease-fire due to be signed today should formally end fighting by two rebel groups in the cocoa-rich west, Togolese officials said. The main rebel movement in the West African country agreed to a cease-fire in mid-October.
Among the rebel leaders who arrived late yesterday was Maj. Deli Gaspard of the Movement for Justice and Peace, who had said he would not come to Lome to sign the cease-fire.
He was joined by representatives of an allied rebel group from the west and an observer from the Patriotic Movement of Ivory Coast, which holds the mostly Muslim northern half of the country and had signed a truce.

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