- The Washington Times - Friday, February 6, 2004


Truce remains firm, chief monitor says

COLOMBO — Sri Lanka’s truce with Tamil Tiger rebels remains strong despite a feud paralyzing Sri Lanka’s government and a 10-month absence of peace talks, according to the new head of the truce monitors.

The Tigers suspended talks last April, and efforts to restart negotiations were thrown into turmoil in November. President Chandrika Kumaratunga fired three ministers in a standoff with the prime minister over how best to end 20 years of war.

“We haven’t seen that much change. But that’s a good thing. With the peace talks stopped for some time, there is a danger of deterioration but I haven’t seen any so far,” Trond Furuhovde, the retired Norwegian major general who leads the monitors, told Reuters Thursday.

Gen. Furuhovde replaced Tryggve Tellefsen, who left in October after Mrs. Kumaratunga accused him of antigovernment bias.


Dead prisoner’s mother put on trial

TASHKENT — The mother of a Muslim man who says her son was fatally tortured in prison went on trial Thursday for “religious extremism,” a charge she called an official attempt to frustrate her quest for justice.

Fatima Mukadyrova, 62, looked frail but calm as the trial began. She is accused of “infringement of the constitutional order” and “fomenting racial and religious hatred.” Last year she displayed photos of her dead son, Muzafar Avazov, showing smashed teeth and torn-off nails. His body had been cut, bruised and scalded.

“I lost my son. He was killed in the prison of Jaslik. I was arrested for all the letters demanding that his murderers be punished,” Mrs. Mukadyrova told the court and burst into tears. The death of her son triggered international denunciations of torture in Uzbek prisons, although the regime maintains close ties with Washington.


Some Canadian troops may stay longer

OTTAWA — Canada might keep “up to” 500 troops in Afghanistan after the planned withdrawal of most of its forces in August, Prime Minister Paul Martin said.

Wednesday on CBC television, Mr. Martin said in reply to a question from the wife of a soldier based in Afghanistan: “We are going to leave 500.” But Thursday after a Cabinet meeting, he told reporters: “We will be pulling the bulk of our troops out.”

The prime minister conceded there might be a need for some Canadian troops to carry out different tasks, which he did not specify, after the rest come home. “We are prepared to commit up to 500 soldiers,” he said. “It might be less; it won’t be more.”

Canada has sent about 2,000 troops — the largest contingent in the International Security Assistance Force, which totals 6,100 troops under NATO authority.

Weekly notes

A high-level military delegation from Burma plans to seek defense hardware from India, a member of the team said this week in New Delhi. There has been widespread speculation in Indian military circles that the country would seek to sell arms to its neighbor on concessional terms to blunt China’s influence in Burma, and press reports that Burma may seek assistance from India to build an air force. … Georgia’s parliament has begun to debate constitutional changes proposed by its new president that would re-create a prime minister’s post in the former Soviet republic. Mikhail Saakashvili, 36, the U.S.-educated lawyer who swept to power after the peaceful ouster of Eduard Shevardnadze, presented the plan as a more even distribution of powers in a country in urgent need of reforms.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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