- The Washington Times - Friday, February 24, 2006

SRI LANKA

Combatants set four-year cease-fire

GENEVA — Sri Lanka’s government and Tamil Tiger rebels renewed their commitment on Thursday to a four-year cease-fire and agreed to meet again to ensure that the country does not return to civil war.

The two sides agreed to return to Geneva April 19-21 to discuss a more lasting peace, a Reuters report said.

“Both sides committed to respecting and upholding the cease-fire agreement and are committed to taking all necessary means to ensure that there will be no intimidation [and] acts of violence,” said a statement issued after the talks, according to Reuters.

BURMA

Suspect arrested in May bombing

LASHIO — The Burmese government has arrested a suspect in a deadly triple-bombing attack in Rangoon last year that killed 23 persons and injured more than 150, Information Minister Brig. Gen. Kyaw Hsan announced.

At a press conference in this northeastern city, Gen. Kyaw Hsan said Yunod, alias Aung Cho Oo, 27, was captured Feb. 5 while he was trying to enter the country.

The minister said Yunod was a member of the anti-government Network for Democracy and Development.

INDIA

Iran gas pipeline commitment renewed

NEW DELHI — India and Iran pledged their commitment this week to building a multibillion-dollar gas pipeline through Pakistan during talks between Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mehdi Safari and Indian leaders, a government statement said.

Negotiations on the proposed pipeline through Pakistan began in 1994 but have been slowed by tensions between Pakistan and India. However, since January 2004, the two rivals have been engaged in a peace process since January 2004 and relations are now at their best in years.

Both sides “reaffirmed their commitment to the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline and early ratification of the LNG [liquefied natural gas] deal,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Weekly notes …

U.S. Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns voiced doubt this week that a U.S.-Indian nuclear pact would be finalized before President Bush visits India next week. The agreement to provide nuclear fuel to India is a cornerstone of the emerging alliance between New Delhi and Washington after nearly a half-century of Cold War estrangement. … Canada is fully aware of the dangers involved in expanding its role in Afghanistan, and also plans to build a more robust Canadian Forces, new Defense Minister Gordon O’Connor, a retired general, said Thursday. He made the remarks in his first major policy speech since the Conservatives ousted the Liberals in the Jan. 23 election.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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