- The Washington Times - Friday, September 29, 2006

TURKEY

Jailed Kurdish rebel calls for cease-fire

ISTANBUL — Jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan has called on his guerrillas to implement an unconditional cease-fire with Turkey as violence escalates in the country’s southeast.

Ankara had warned that it was prepared to attack the northern Iraqi bases of Ocalan’s Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) if U.S. and Iraqi forces failed to act against it.

The United States and the European Union, like Turkey, have blacklisted the PKK as a terrorist organization.

The conflict, mainly in the Kurdish southeast of Turkey, had largely dwindled after Ocalan was captured and convicted in 1999. It flared up again since the PKK called off a unilateral cease-fire in 2004 and the violence has continued despite a temporary cease-fire last year.

UGANDA

Rebels boycott peace talks

JUBA, Sudan — Negotiators for Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army rebels have withdrawn from peace talks aimed at ending one of Africa’s longest wars, accusing the army of surrounding their fighters in violation of a truce.

But the Ugandan army denied it had deployed anywhere near the LRA’s assembly camps, and accused the insurgents’ delegation of looking for excuses to walk out of the talks.

A truce signed last month raised hopes of an end to a vicious 20-year civil war in northern Uganda that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced nearly 2 million.

THAILAND

U.S. freezes aid in response to coup

The United States has suspended nearly $24 million in aid to Thailand in response to the Sept. 19 coup, the State Department said yesterday.

“The United States continues to urge a rapid return to democratic rule and early elections in Thailand,” department spokesman Sean McCormack said. “We look forward to being able to reinstate the suspended programs after a democratically elected government takes office.”

The frozen aid includes $16 million for Thai military education and training for purposes such as counterterrorism and $4 million for Thai arms purchases.

BELGIUM

Data transfer to U.S. called privacy breach

BRUSSELS — The money-transfer company Swift for years has secretly supplied U.S. authorities with massive amounts of personal data for use in counterterror investigations, violating privacy rules of the European Union, a Belgian commission said yesterday.

Belgium’s privacy-protection commission, which presented its findings yesterday, did not call for immediate legal action. Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said Swift was in a conflicting position between U.S. and European law, but said his government would not take legal action to shut down the data transfers.

CHINA

Fusion-reactor test deemed success

BEIJING — Scientists yesterday carried out China’s first successful test of an experimental fusion reactor, powered by the process that fuels the sun, a research institute spokeswoman said.

China, the United States and other governments are pursuing fusion research in hopes that it could become a clean, potentially limitless energy source. Fusion produces little radioactive waste, unlike fission, which powers conventional nuclear reactors.

Beijing is eager for advances, both for national prestige and to reduce its soaring consumption of imported oil and dirty coal.

The test by the government’s Institute of Plasma Physics was carried out on a Tokamak fusion device in the eastern city of Hefei.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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