Rice to revamp WMD oversight
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday proposed a management shuffle at the State Department to better focus on links between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Iraq and the weapons never found there after Saddam Hussein’s ouster weren’t mentioned.
The changes, first reported by The Washington Times in January, must be approved by Congress. The changes would merge and rearrange State Department offices still primarily organized around Cold War models of arms control, Miss Rice told an audience at the State Department.
A new office within the realigned bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation would “focus exclusively on the threat posed by terrorists seeking weapons of mass destruction,” she said.
Senate approves anti-terror steps
ROME — Italy’s Senate overwhelmingly approved tougher anti-terror measures yesterday, a day after the interior minister warned that the threat of terrorism had forced the nation into a state of alarm.
The package, which still must be voted on by parliament’s lower chamber, includes measures allowing authorities to hold terror suspects longer without charges and retain telephone records. It also makes it a crime to recruit and train people for terrorist activities.
Council expands terror sanctions
NEW YORK — The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a U.S.-sponsored resolution yesterday that expands U.N. sanctions against al Qaeda terrorists and Afghanistan’s former Taliban rulers to affiliates and splinter groups.
Sanctions currently require all 191 U.N. member states to impose a travel ban and arms embargo against Osama bin Laden, the Taliban leaders and those “associated with” them, and to freeze their financial assets.
Stampede takes flood toll near 750
BOMBAY — At least 18 persons died in a stampede in the flood-ravaged Indian city of Bombay after rumors that a lake had overflowed its banks, officials said yesterday. The deaths take the toll from days of monsoon flooding in western India to nearly 750.
People in a crowded slum in the north of the city of 15 million rushed out of their homes into darkness late Thursday after hearing rumors of floods that turned out to be unfounded. Seven children were among the 18 killed in the stampede, police said.
U.S. Army to vacate 13 bases in south
BERLIN — The U.S. Army will pull out of 13 bases in southern Germany as part of a repositioning of American forces around the world, its European headquarters said yesterday.
The 11 bases in and around the Bavarian city of Wuerzburg will be handed over to the German government by September 2007, a statement from the Army’s European headquarters in Heidelberg said. Two more bases near Wuerzburg will be closed and handed over in subsequent years.
The closures are part of plans to return the headquarters of the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division to the United States next year and relocate other units.
Chechen’s interview on ABC protested
MOSCOW — Russia’s Foreign Ministry summoned the U.S. Embassy’s charge d’affaires yesterday to protest an ABC News broadcast of an interview with Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev.
Basayev has taken responsibility for organizing last year’s Beslan school siege that ended in the deaths of more than 330 children and adults and the 2002 seizure of a Moscow theater that resulted in 129 hostages dying when police botched a rescue raid.
From wire dispatches and staff reports