- The Washington Times - Friday, March 25, 2005

INDIA

Hindu leader calls off visit

NEW DELHI — Right-wing Hindu leader Narendra Modi has called off a planned visit to Britain next month because of opposition there to his trip, Indian television news channel Aajtak reported Thursday.

Mr. Modi, the chief minister of India’s Gujarat state who has been accused of complicity in the killing of about 2,000 Muslims in riots in 2002, had been due to leave for London yesterday.

British groups were planning to hold protests during his visit, the television channel said.

Last week the United States refused to give Mr. Modi a visa to address a convention of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

INDIA

TB campaign cites progress

NEW DELHI — Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss pledged on World TB Day Thursday that India would step up its campaign against tuberculosis, as the WHO gave it a pat on the back for the strides it already has taken against the disease.

“Today on World TB Day we must take stock of the progress we have made so far and avoid complacency,” said Mr. Ramadoss at the start of TB awareness run in the Indian capital. “TB is curable and yet over 1,000 Indians die of this disease every day.”

In its annual update, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that in 2003 — the latest year for which figures are available — there were about 8.8 million new cases of TB in the world. It said major progress has been made against TB in hard-hit Asian countries like India, but warned that in Africa infection rates had tripled in the last decade.

AFGHANISTAN

Bridge to link up with Tajikistan

KABUL — The United States will finance a $28 million bridge to link Afghanistan with its northern neighbor Tajikistan in a bid to boost trade between the countries, the U.S. military said Thursday.

The bridge is expected to carry more than 1,000 vehicles per day across the river border. Its construction will begin in May and is scheduled to be completed in April 2007.

SRI LANKA

Peace talks on ‘back burner’

COLOMBO — Sri Lanka’s foreign minister ruled out an early resumption of peace talks to end a three-decade conflict with Tamil Tiger rebels but said a deal on disbursing tsunami relief was possible.

“A formal resumption of the peace process is very much on the back burner,” Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar told a meeting of the Foreign Correspondents’ Association of Sri Lanka here late Thursday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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