- The Washington Times - Friday, July 18, 2003

BURMA

Neighbor opposes stiff U.S. trade ban

BANGKOK … Thailand, which has proposed a “road map” for democratic change in military-run Burma, spoke out on Thursday against plans by the Bush administration to impose stiffer sanctions on its impoverished Southeast Asian neighbor.

Burma detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in late May in a renewed crackdown on dissent. Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said plans in Washington to ban imports from Burma — ruled by the military for four decades — would not hurt the junta.

“There will also be more illegal labor flooding to Thailand,” he predicted.

The U.S. Congress passed legislation Wednesday closing the American market to imports from Burma and sent the bill to President Bush for his signature. Mr. Surakiart said Bangkok has proposed a plan for a transition to democracy in Burma during recent meetings with the junta.

PAKISTAN

Road link planned via Wakhan corridor

GILGIT — Pakistan plans to establish a road link with Tajikistan to promote trade and commercial relations with Central Asian republics, officials here announced.

The 22-mile-long road is to be built between the Ishkamun Valley in northern Pakistan and the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan, said Amanullah Khan Niazi, planning and development secretary of the Northern Area here.

Plans for the proposed project have been sent to Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali for his approval and allocation of funds, Mr. Niazi told Agence France-Presse. He said a 31-mile stretch of road across the Wakhan in Afghanistan would have to be built by Afghanistan, which has not yet been approached on the subject.

The three countries are members of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) which also includes Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan.

SRI LANKA

Negotiators offer rebels more to revive talks

COLOMBO — Sri Lanka offered unspecified political and financial powers to Tamil Tiger rebels two days ago in seeking to revive stalled Norwegian-backed peace talks.

The government’s chief peace negotiator, G.L. Peiris, said a set of proposals to establish a “provisional administrative structure” was given Thursday to the Tigers. He said the proposals were carried to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the northern Wanni region by Norwegian special envoy Jon Westborg.

“We do not expect a quick response from the LTTE,” Mr. Peiris said, noting that the Tigers would need to consult legal and political experts. The Tigers announced April 21 suspension of their participation in the talks because of reported government failure to deliver on promises.

Weekly notes

Bangladesh officials met Thursday to plan antiflood strategies, fearful that the miserable conditions for millions of their people could deteriorate further. A Disaster Management Ministry spokesman said the meeting was called after floodwaters gushing down to the Bay of Bengal submerged more of the country. The situation could worsen in coming months as monsoon rains continue. … A 21-year-old Kyrgyz man was shot dead from across the border in a dispute with Uzbek guards in the Ferghana Valley, officials in Kyrgyzstan report. The shooting Wednesday night came after Kyrgyz residents got into an argument with Uzbek guards who destroyed a bridge across the river border, a Kyrgyz Cabinet source said. Shared by Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, the Ferghana Valley is Central Asia’s most populous region with about 12 million residents.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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