- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 18, 2003

INDONESIA

Repentant bomber spared death sentence

BALI — Ali Imron, one of the few defendants to express remorse over the terrorist attacks on Indonesia’s Bali island, was sentenced yesterday to life in prison for his role in the bombings that killed 202 persons.

Imron had already acknowledged involvement in the Oct. 12 attack by an al Qaeda-linked group and he could have been sentenced to death. But the five-judge panel earlier said a lighter sentence was justified given his expressions of remorse and his testimony against other defendants.



Imron’s older brother, Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, and the mastermind of the Bali attack, Imam Samudra, have already been sentenced death.

FRANCE

Chirac pushes Iraq sovereignty

BERLIN — French President Jacques Chirac said yesterday he would like to see a transfer of power in Iraq in a matter of “months,” as he and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder renewed their push for a quick return to sovereignty.

“When I say as quickly as possible, I of course mean months, not years,” Mr. Chirac said.

Last Friday, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin called for the provisional government in one month.

CHINA

Report of troops at border denied

BEIJING — China denied moving 150,000 soldiers to its border with North Korea because of nuclear tensions, insisting yesterday the frontier was calm and it was working with its reclusive neighbor to safeguard “stability and tranquility” there.

Hong Kong media reported recently that Beijing deployed the soldiers to stem crime by impoverished North Korean forces and to pressure Pyongyang to give up its nuclear program — the source of international tension and the subject of multilateral diplomacy.

CANADA

Homosexual ‘couple’ denied entry to U.S.

TORONTO — A Canadian homosexual couple was denied entry to the United States yesterday because the two men attempted to qualify as a family when they filled out customs forms.

The couple, Joe Varnell and Kevin Bourassa, said U.S. immigration officials at Toronto’s Pearson Airport refused them entry under the family category, which allows the use of one form per family.

Mr. Varnell and Mr. Bourassa, who were “married” under Ontario law in June, were attempting to travel to the United States to attend a human rights conference in Georgia, where they were scheduled to speak about family issues.

AFGHANISTAN

U.S. official stresses ‘critical priority’

KABUL — Afghanistan remains a “critical priority” for the United States despite the cost of operations in Iraq, and Washington expects help from Saudi Arabia and other nations to rebuild both countries, U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow said yesterday.

After meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other top Afghan officials, Mr. Snow said the total new U.S. funding for Afghan reconstruction in 2004 will be about $1 billion, double its current outlay.

A donor conference on Afghanistan is to be held next week in Dubai. President Bush earlier this month asked Congress for $800 million for Afghan rebuilding.

Meanwhile, U.S. warplanes supporting Afghan ground forces pummeled Taliban positions in southern Afghanistan, killing at least 11 rebels during three days of fighting, the military said yesterday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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