US rattles sabre on Iraq again
The United States and Britain minced no words about a possible military strike against Iraq when two Americans working for the U.N. Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) arriving in Baghdad from Bahrain early Thursday were barred entry into Iraq.
In Washington, White House spokesman Mike McCurry said, "There are a range of options that we can pursue to ensure compliance by Iraq with relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions," he said. "We've demonstrated in many different ways how we will carry out the will of the international community."
The implied threat of military force followed the lead in Britain on Thursday that military action against Iraq could be used if Iraq refused to comply with United Nations weapons inspections. ``The response will be serious. It will be commensurate with the action.'' Foreign Office Minister Derek Fatchett told BBC television. ``We have to be tough. We have to continue our message. We are very determined in what we are saying and we are not going to allow Iraq to arm itself again,'' he said.
US State Department spokesman James Rubin asked about wheter a military response, to the Iraqi action was a possibility, said: ``This is a very serious matter and we are not ruling any option out at this time.'' US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and other American diplomats desperately tried to rally support of Russia and other U.S. allies to pass an in principle motion in the U.N. Security Council later today for a strike against Iraq.
Meanwhile at the White House, President Bill Clinton's senior foreign policy advisers met in a huddle to discuss Iraq's latest move. Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon refused to discuss the use of military force but noted U.S. military forces in the Gulf included some 15 warships led by the aircraft carrier Nimitz and about 200 land and sea-based warplanes. Several of those ships are capable of firing Tomahawk cruise missiles.
Bacon said the U.S. military had no intention of complying with Iraq's demand that it halt reconnaissance overflights of Iraq in support of U.N. inspection teams in that country. The United States fired cruise missiles at Iraqi targets in 1993, under the pretext for what Washington said was a Baghdad plot to kill former U.S. President George Bush, and again last year to punish Iraq for its expulsion of a CIA headquarters in Northern Iraq.
Iraq, which announced on Wednesday it would bar U.S. members of UNSCOM, a U.N. commission overseeing demolition of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Wednesday's order singled out only Americans working for the weapons inspection team. U.N. officials said as far as they knew, inspectors from other countries as well as Americans working for other U.N. operations would not be affected.
``If others want to push things in another direction, including the use of military force, that will not frighten us and will not make us back down on (our) decision,'' Saad Qassim Hammoudi, head of the Arab and International Committee at the Iraqi parliament, told reporters in Iraq.
``We were compelled to take this decision after it became clear to us that there is no light and hope at the end of the tunnel to lift the embargo,'' Hammoudi said. He blamed American members of the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) for the current crisis.
``Whenever we had an American leading a team a problem occurred. It is in the interests of the Special Commission and the Security Council to keep these spies who work for the Central Intelligence Agency and American army away, if they want real serious cooperation,'' he said.
UNSCOM undermines Food-for-oil
The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Dennis Halliday, has said that the "difficulties in regard to the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) cannot be allowed to undermine the important work of humanitarian assistance" in the country, according to his Spokesman Eric Falt.
Briefing the press in Baghdad on Thursday, Mr. Falt expressed concern that the focus of the media might shift the spotlight away from the humanitarian situation in Iraq. He said that the Humanitarian Coordinator had indicated that despite recent events, the oil-for-food programme should continue normally in Baghdad and elsewhere. The programme allows Iraq, which is facing United Nations sanctions, to export its oil in order to purchase humanitarian supplies.
Mr. Falt said that the United Nations was very concerned about the delay in the arrival of wheat grain and the expected distribution of wheat flour throughout the country. As of 21 October, only 48 per cent of the required wheat grain had been milled, he added.
The Spokesman of the Humanitarian Coordinator reminded the journalists that the announcement of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council regarding U.S. citizens working for the United Nations in Iraq only applied to UNSCOM personnel.
The UN sanctions, in place since August 1990, have been a humanitarian
disaster have already killed more than 750,000 people in Iraq and physically damaged and radically
shortened the lives of millions more.
Mandela returns to Libya
South Africa's Nelson Mandela returned to Libya Wednesday for the second time in two weeks, honoring Moammar Qadhafi with South Africa's highest medal for a non-citizen.
Mandela's return trip, announced only days earlier, prompted speculation that he might try to negotiate an end to the sanctions, meant to force Qadhafi to surrender two suspects in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland.
A bagpipe-playing band greeted Mandela on his return, and military leaders and Arab and African dignitaries lined up to shake his hand. Chanting in English, crowds shouted, "Long live Mandela!'' The South African president strolled hand-in-hand with Qadhafi as they walked away from the 15-minute welcome ceremony. "Welcome Mandela, the tough rebel and the stubborn resister who was not threatened by challenges and threats,'' state television declared in its live broadcast.
Mandela presented Qadhafi with the Order of Good Hope, his nation's top honor for a non-foreigner. The citation called Qadhafi "a major campaigner in the struggle to end colonialism and to fight for the rights of the peoples of Africa.'' In fact, "our award is your presence on Libyan territory despite America's refusal,'' Qadhafi told a crowd gathered in a stadium.
Mandela's visits have upset Western leaders, who are seeking to isolate the Libyan leader through 5-year-old U.N. sanctions that limit diplomatic relations with Libya and ban flights to and from the country.
President Mandela on Sunday reiterated that the trial of two alleged bombers of the Pan American aircraft over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 should be held in a neutral country. Addressing a press conference in Edinburgh where he was attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), Mandela said this was the position taken by the Organisation of African Unity, Arab League, Islamic Conference, the Non-Aligned Movement and some members of the United Nations.
"My approach is based on the fact that I am a member of the OAU, and I think that approach is correct. I believe it's the attitude of relatives of Lockerbie victims that the trial must be in a neutral country," he said.
Mandela made his first, two-day visit to Libya last week on his way to a summit of leaders of Britain and its former colonies. Wednesday's visit to Zuwarah, a coastal town about 60 miles west of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, came on his return to South Africa.
UN measures debated on currency turmoil
The UN General Assembly debated measures to prevent future currency turmoil on Tuesday as world stocks market came pressure from the growing Asian financial crisis.
Sponsored by the "Group of 77" developing countries and China and introduced by the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania, the draft resolution on global financial flows would have the Assembly call on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to ensure flexibility in promoting capital account liberalization. The Assembly would also stress the need for strengthened international cooperation to prevent future currency turmoils, which negatively affected developing countries and the international and financial monetary system.
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) would also request the Secretary-General to analyze current trends in global financial markets, in close cooperation with heads of the Bretton Woods institutions and the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The draft would further request that recommendations be made in the World Economic and Social Survey and the Trade and Development Report on how to address the problem of fluctuations in global financial markets.
Recently a financial crisis broke in Thailand after international
currency speculators began to target Asia. Malaysian prime minister Dr
Mahathir has singled out the funds run by the zionist financier George
Soros. Last week while Soros was giving away money in Russia his financial
funds targeted Hong Kong as ripe for blunder.
Aid pledged as Indonesian fires continue
Smoke from bush fires continued to cover Indonesian cities on Friday, forcing the closure of at least 10 airports as aid was continued to be pledged by Australia and Europe.
25 cities in Sumatra and Kalimantan, on the Indonesia side of Borneo island, and remote Irian Jaya province were covered with thick smog, with visibility ranging between 55.5 yards and 1.5 miles.
"Smog continues to blanket several cities. At least 10 airports are closed today because of the smog. In Jambi, in Sumatra, for instance, visibility is only 50 metres," said an official at the forest fire coordinating bureau in Jakarta. He said there were 23 "hot spots" -- areas affected by the fires -- on Friday morning compared with 42 late on Thursday, but added this did not necessarily mean the smog was disappearing.
Earlier in the week visiting Australian Prime Minister John Howard said that Australia was giving 360,000 Australian dollars for ground firefighting training in Indonesia. Australia has already lent two small water bombing aircrafts to assist forest and ground firefighting efforts from the air in Indonesia.
Rampant forest and bush fires on Sumatra and Kalimantan have been blamed for the smog blanketing parts of Southeast Asia, especially Malaysia and Singapore. But rains have cleansed Singapore's skies in recent days and the air has been in the normal range much of the week.
U.N. climate experts in Geneva said on Friday the dry spell in Indonesia could continue for three months, far beyond the normal start of the monsoon, due to the El Nino phenomenon, a periodic warming of water in the Pacific Ocean that affects global weather patterns.
The drought has also been blamed for more than 460 deaths from famine and disease of people in the rugged jungles of Irian Jaya, where relief workers are flying in emergency supplies and medicines. Meteorologists have said dry winds from Australia are still dominant and that wind patterns have delayed the possibility of widespread rains in the archipelago.
Other assistance from Europe will take the form of fire-fighting equipment worth $178,800, remote sensing equipment worth 385 million rupiah ($105,500) and 57 million rupiah ($15,600) in fighting expertise, a European Union statement said .
"The EU, therefore, has a long-term commitment to the Indonesian forestry
sector in the form of a number of projects focusing on the conservation
and sustainable management of Indonesia's forest resources," it said. Separately,
the United Kingdom had provided further assistance of $110,000 to help
fire victims, Greece had given $10,000 for humanitarian aid, while additional
aid had also come from Finland, France, Germany and Sweden.
Cuba sends sugar to North Korea
A shipment of 10,000 tons of free sugar arrived in the North Korea's Nampo port on Monday. North Korea called the gift "a clear manifestation of the Cuban party and government's will to set store by and further consolidate and develop the bilateral relations of friendship," KCNA said
The friendship between the two socialist states was "based on the deep intimacy between the great leader comrade Kim Jong-Il and esteemed comrade Fidel Castro Ruz," KCNA said in the dispatch.