- The Washington Times - Friday, September 9, 2005


Prime minister shuns accord with Tamils

COLOMBO — Mahinda Rajapakse, the ruling party’s candidate for president, has sealed a deal with the Marxist party under which he agreed to drop plans to share power with Tamil rebels in exchange for communist support in autumn presidential elections.

The Tamil Tiger rebels immediately accused Mr. Rajapakse, who is currently prime minister, of spoiling chances to resolve the three-decades-old ethnic conflict that has claimed at least 60,000 lives.

Under the agreement with the Marxists, Mr. Rajapakse said he would abandon the government’s commitment to work toward devolving powers to the minority Tamils that was part of peace talks in December 2002. In return, the Marxists pledged to support Mr. Rajapakse in Oct. 22-Nov. 21 presidential elections and he promised to abandon a tsunami aid-sharing pact with the Tigers and halt privatization.


Iran gas pipeline pushed despite threat

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan and India have announced they are pressing ahead with a $7 billion project to pipe Iranian gas to South Asia, despite a looming threat of U.N. sanctions against Tehran.

Officials from both countries discussed legal, financial, technical and commercial aspects of the project at a meeting in Islamabad. Doubts were cast over the pipeline when the Bush administration voiced concern about the project because of its opposition to Iran’s nuclear program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said last week that questions remain about Tehran’s atomic activities and confirmed that Iran had resumed its uranium-processing work, setting the scene for a potential referral to the U.N. Security Council.


UNICEF seeks aid to prevent anemia

RANGOON — The United Nations Children’s Fund has called for greater international support to protect Burma’s women and children, according to a statement released by the UNICEF office in the capital.

“UNICEF needs additional funding to protect more children and mothers in [Burma] against anemia and other causes of chronic malnutrition,” said the statement dated this Wednesday. Anemic mothers die more often in childbirth and are more likely to give birth to underweight children, it added.

Weekly notes

Two Chinese companies will invest $200 million to build Mongolia’s first oil refinery in Ulan Bator. CSEIC Fuel Trade Co. Ltd. and Beijing Jingdeshun Materials Co. Ltd. will construct the refinery through their joint venture, Heilongjiang Huafu Industrial Co. Ltd., China’s Xinhua news agency reported Thursday. It will have an annual production capacity of 1 million tons and is expected to begin operating in 2007. Half the products will be used in Mongolia while the rest will be exported to northern China. … The Turkmen air force has conducted an aerial war game called “Peaceful Skies” in Mary province, site of Turkmenistan’s largest air base. The tactical exercise simulated hostile penetration of Turkmen airspace and air-to-air missiles destroyed a radio-controlled aerial target.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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