- The Washington Times - Monday, September 1, 2003


Bush, Putin, Berlusconi discuss Iraq on phone

PORTO ROTONDO — Russian President Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi discussed Iraq in a telephone conversation with President Bush from Mr. Berlusconi’s Sardinian residence yesterday.

Mr. Putin’s press secretary, Alexei Gromov, told Interfax news agency that Mr. Putin and Mr. Bush agreed to continue discussing the issue during Mr. Putin’s upcoming visit to the United States.

Mr. Putin, who was visiting Mr. Berlusconi at his holiday estate, said on Saturday that Russia would support sending a U.N.-sponsored international military force to Iraq, even under U.S. command.


Aung San Suu Kyi starts hunger strike

Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has begun a hunger strike to protest her detention by that southeast Asian nation’s military rulers, the State Department said yesterday.

“This courageous leader of the National League for Democracy and proponent of nonviolent political change has placed herself at risk on many occasions in pursuit of democracy and respect for basic human rights in Burma,” said department spokesman Philip Reeker.

Saying the ruling junta had “full responsibility for her health,” Mr. Reeker said, “We again call for her immediate release as well as the release of her National League for Democracy colleagues and all political prisoners in Burma.”


U.S. forces raid farms on outskirts of Mosul

MOSUL — Dozens of U.S. soldiers, backed by armored vehicles and helicopter gunships, searched farms on the outskirts of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul yesterday in their hunt for followers of Saddam Hussein, witnesses said.

Residents said 101st Airborne Division troops over the past week intensified their hunt for Saddam loyalists suspected of directing a guerrilla campaign against U.S. forces.

The witnesses said soldiers in 15 armored vehicles combed a swath of farms in the outskirts of Mosul, 220 miles north of Baghdad, as helicopters flew overhead.


Bombings hit U.N. plans to return Iraqi refugees

TEHRAN — A senior U.N. official said yesterday that plans to repatriate 70,000 to 80,000 Iraqi refugees from Iran by the end of the year had been dashed by the bombing of the U.N. offices in Baghdad and other security fears.

Philippe Lavanchy, chief of mission of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Tehran, said none of Iran’s 200,000 or so Iraqi refugees had so far been repatriated through official channels, but thousands had illegally made a perilous journey home across the mine-strewn border.

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