South News Iraq Crisis updates

Albright Heckled at Ohio State over Iraq
South News Feb 18

COLUMBUS, Ohio : President Clinton's program to rally Americans for a possible strike on Iraq was jolted Wednesday when his top advisers were heckled and grilled at a ''town meeting'' in the U.S. heartland.

Anti-war hecklers interrupted President Clinton's foreign policy team Wednesday at a ``town meeting'' that the administration had hoped would be a friendly forum to explain its policy toward Iraq.

``One, two, three, four, we don't want your racist war,'' Ohio State University students heckled.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's normal composure was shaken when anti-war demonstrators, yelling from an upper tier of a university gymnasium, drowned her out as she explained U.S. policy to 6,000 people gathered for the televised meeting.

The heckling died down for a while after the CNN moderators of the televised meeting appealed for calm and uniformed security men moved up toward the group of hecklers.

Clinton had sent all the heavyweights -- Albright,Defense Secretary Cohen and National Security Adviser Berger.

The United States says it will attack within weeks if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein does not promise to give U.N. arms inspectors full access to all sites they want to visit.

After another interruption, Albright stopped in exasperation. ``Could you please tell these people I will be glad to talk with them once this thing is over,'' she said. Moderator Judy Woodruff pleaded with the hecklers to calm down, saying the time for the meeting was limited.

``We need your support,'' Albright implored toward the end of the ``town meeting'' arranged by CNN with the cooperation of the Clinton administration. ``You don't have it,'' students shouted back.

The meeting, carried live to viewers around the world, including Baghdad, by CNN International, was hastily organized as the days tick down toward possible attack. `

`Iraq is a long way from Ohio, but what happens there matters here,'' Albright began. But Ohio is also a long way from Washington, and the Cabinet members, who came here after a speech by Clinton on Tuesday spelling out the policy in detail, seemed surprised by the hostility of the hecklers and the skepticism of the questioners. 

Australia may switch focus from Iraq
South News Feb 18


Canberra: Australia may pull its military deployment from the Gulf after consultations with Chinese Defence Minister over the growing crisis in Indonesia.

An Australian government adviser warned Wednesday that Indonesia's economic and political problems may force Canberra to switch the focus of its defence strategy from the Gulf region to south-east Asia. Carl Thayer of the Australian Defence Force Academy made the remarks during a top-level visit by Chinese Defence Minister Chi Haotian.

Australia's Defence Force Chief, General John Baker, this morning expressed fears about the possible impact of Indonesia's financial and social instability on Australia.

Concerns over social strife in Indonesia, which has been swept by weeks of rioting blamed on rising food prices, were also raised although Baker said he would not give further details on any of the subjects he discussed with Chi.

General John Baker told reporters he had also discussed the two countries' opposing positions on Iraq's stand-off with the United States over U.N. arms inspections

The depth of the economic crisis facing Indonesia has caused alarm among Australia's senior ministers and defence planners over regional stability and an outbreak of social unrest that could be beyond the ability of authorities to manage.

In a speech to Australia's Defence Academy, Chi reaffirmed China's commitment to a defence policy based on non-aggression, respect for territorial sovereignty, resisting foreign aggression and protecting national security and unity.

``China does not seek hegemony or foreign expansion,'' China's official Xinhua news agency quoted Chi saying. ``China does not seek to establish a military alliance with any other country in the world, nor does it station troops or set up military bases on foreign soil.''

The United States said it shares Australia's concerns about the worsening situation in Indonesia. US Ambassador to Australia, Genta Hawkins-Holmes, said any crisis in Indonesia threatens not just the region, but the entire world.

"If [Indonesia] collapses were all to go to hell, I think it would be a big threat," Ms Hawkins-Holmes said."We all hope that doesn't happen.

"It's a tough time for Indonesia. It seems to be some electricity in the air that when something goes wrong it all goes wrong."