- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 18, 2004

SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO

Ethnic violence erupts in Kosovo

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA - Serbs and Albanians clashed in Kosovo yesterday in the worst violence since NATO and the United Nations took control of the region in 1999, and at least 19 persons were killed.

Shooting broke out and grenades were thrown in the ethnically divided northern town of Kosovska Mitrovica, a notorious flash point, as police and troops fired tear gas and rubber bullets to stop Albanians storming the Serbian half of the town.

Hundreds of Albanians also broke through a U.N. police cordon outside the Serbian village of Caglavica, south of the capital, Pristina, setting two Serbian houses ablaze. Serbs were reported fleeing their homes.

TAIWAN

Chen calls France ‘evil-hearted’

TAIPEI - Chen Shui-bian, leader of the Republic of China (Taiwan), accused China and France yesterday of trying to influence the outcome of a closely fought presidential election by staging their first joint naval exercises days before the vote.

Beijing has dismissed suggestions of a link between the timing of the unprecedented joint exercises - launched Tuesday about 780 miles from Taiwan’s northernmost point - and the presidential election Saturday.

France was “evil-hearted” for siding with the island’s archrival in exchange for commercial interests, Mr. Chen told an election rally late Tuesday.

RWANDA

U.S. agency checks U.N. black box

NEW YORK - A black box found last week in a U.N. filing cabinet apparently was not on the aircraft that crashed in Rwanda a decade ago, triggering that country’s 1994 genocide, the United Nations said yesterday.

The mysterious cockpit voice recorder, shipped to U.N. headquarters from Rwanda in June 1994 and subsequently filed away, was opened and its tape played for the first time Tuesday at the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington, said U.N. chief spokesman Fred Eckhard.

What the experts heard was a cockpit conversation in French lasting about 30 minutes, he said.

CYPRUS

Denktash to shun next round of talks

NICOSIA - Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said yesterday that he would not attend the next round of U.N.-backed reunification talks that are to include Greece and Turkey.

Under the United Nations’ timetable, officials from Greece and Turkey, Cyprus’ “motherlands,” were to join the peace process for one week in Switzerland after Monday with Mr. Denktash and Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos, if the two Cypriot leaders could not seal a deal.

Negotiations are aimed at reuniting the island before the internationally recognized Greek-Cypriot side enters the European Union on May 1.

IRAN

Khatami concedes defeat of reform

TEHRAN - Iran’s beleaguered president conceded defeat yesterday in his long struggle to reform a system stacked in favor of hard-line Islamic clerics, saying he was abandoning efforts to salvage two key bills that sought to expand presidential powers and limit the authority of an unelected conservative body.

Mohammed Khatami, once hailed as the leader of a hugely popular reform movement, warned Iranians not to expect too much from the presidency, accusing his rivals of relegating the office to a position of little influence.

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