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Saturday, March 12, 2005

Japan Today - News - Africa is 'biggest moral challenge of our time,' says Blair - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Africa is 'biggest moral challenge of our time,' says Blair - Japan's Leading International News Network: "

japantoday > world
Africa is 'biggest moral challenge of our time,' says Blair

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Saturday, March 12, 2005 at 02:36 JST
LONDON — British Prime Minister Tony Blair, launching his much-heralded Commission for Africa report, declared Friday, 'There can be no excuse, no defense, no justification for the plight of millions of our fellow beings in Africa.'

Speaking at the British Museum, Blair told an international audience of diplomats, aid workers and journalists that Africa plays on his own conscience as 'the biggest moral challenge of our generation.' (Kyodo News)

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CBS 46 Atlanta - Courthouse slayings suspect is caught

CBS 46 Atlanta - Courthouse slayings suspect is caught

Downtown Atlanta
Courthouse slayings suspect is caught
Mar 12, 2005, 1:23 PM
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Roland Barnes
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Roland Barnes

DULUTH, GA. (AP) -- A rape suspect accused of killing a judge and two other people at a courthouse was captured Saturday at a suburban Atlanta apartment complex hours after an immigration agent was discovered shot to death miles away.

"Brian Nichols is in custody. He turned himself in without incident. Everybody is safe," said Officer Darren Moloney of the Gwinnett Police Department.

Moloney said Nichols was armed and had a female hostage when he was caught. The woman was not identified by authorities, and it was unclear what relationship she had with Nichols.

Nichols, 33, is a suspect in connection with the fatal shooting of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent found dead early Saturday, FBI Spokesman Steve Lazarus said. That agent was later identified as Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge David Wilhelm.

Wilhelm was discovered shot to death at an upscale townhouse complex about 16 miles away from where Nichols was caught. The agent's blue pickup truck, pistol and badge were missing. Authorities could not immediately confirm reports that the truck was found with Nichols.

Nichols' arrest came the day after he allegedly killed a judge, court reporter and deputy at a downtown courthouse.

After the arrest, a crowd of people across the street from the apartment complex cheered as a black sports utility vehicle drove away, escorted by multiple police cars with lights flashing and sirens on.

The shootings Friday set off a massive manhunt and created widespread chaos across Atlanta, where schools, restaurants and office buildings locked down amid fears that the suspect might strike again.

Wilhelm's body was found Saturday in the area where Nichols used to live and where the suspect reportedly asked for directions before carjacking a newspaper reporter shortly after the courthouse shootings.

Authorities said the manhunt seemed to hit a dead end late Friday night when the stolen vehicle that Nichols was believed to have fled in was found 13 hours later on another level of the same parking garage where it was carjacked from the reporter. Highway message boards across the state had issued descriptions of that vehicle throughout the day.

Hours before Wilhelm's body was found, investigators were asking for the public's help in finding Nichols, and Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan said, "We do not know what type of vehicle he is in."

It was suspected that Nichols had stolen another vehicle from the same parking garage. Authorities would not comment on whether Wilhelm may have been carjacked at the garage.

Ned Cronan, 73, who lives across the street from where authorities found Wilhelm's body, said he got up three times during the night and looked out the window. The only sign of trouble he saw was a police car about 7 a.m.

Cronan said he's heard gunshots in the area before, but none Friday night or Saturday morning.

"I don't think they killed him there," he said.

At the state Capitol, just down the street from the site of the courthouse shootings, flags flew at half-staff as lawmakers prepared for a rare Saturday session. Legislative leaders had considered canceling their weekend "family day," after the shooting, but decided to go ahead with it. Speaker of House Glenn Richardson announced Nichols' arrest to lawmakers on the floor.

On Friday, carloads of law enforcement officers in riot gear swarmed the buildings and parking lots surrounding the north Atlanta condominiums where Nichols once lived, residents said.

Nichols, a former computer technician, was being escorted to his trial, in its fourth day, when the incident started Friday morning. Nichols was facing a retrial on charges of rape, sodomy, burglary, and false imprisonment, among others, after his earlier trial was declared a mistrial on Monday when jurors voted 8-4 for acquittal.

The judge and a court reporter who were killed had been working Nichols' trial.

In the rape case, Nichols was accused of bursting into his ex-girlfriend's home, binding her with duct tape and sexually assaulting her over three days. Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said Nichols brought a loaded machine gun into the home and a cooler with food in case he was hungry.

Nichols had been dating the woman for eight years, and she tried to break up with him after he got another woman pregnant, Nichol's attorney, Barry Hazen, told a local television station. Though he is accused of imprisoning the woman and raping her, Hazen said his client claims she invited him over and they had consensual sex.

"My guts tell me he faced a greater chance of conviction in the second trial," Hazen said.

Nichols, who had been jailed since Aug. 23, faced a possible life sentence if convicted of rape, and prosecutor Gayle Abramson said she believes Nichols was certain he would be convicted and was willing to kill to avoid it.

The day before the incident, the judge and prosecutors in Nichols' case requested extra security after investigators found a shank -- or homemade knife -- fashioned from a doorknob in each of Nichols' shoes, Abramson said.

District Attorney Howard did not say what measures were taken to beef up security, but Assistant Police Chief Alan Dreher said no other officers assisted Hall with taking Nichols to court.

Hazen described his client as a "big, strong guy" with a laid-back personality. Authorities said he is 6 foot, 1 inch tall and weighs 200 pounds. Some of his former neighbors say they remembered Nichols being an avid weight lifter.

"Even the larger deputies I don't think would be any match for Brian Nichols," Hazen said.

More than 100 state troopers and officers from several agencies, including the FBI, assisted in the search. A reward of $60,000 was offered for information leading to Nichols' capture.

The apartment complex where Nichols was apprehended was near one of the Atlanta metropolitan area's largest malls, Gwinnett Place Mall.

Friday, March 11, 2005

EJazzNews > Founding Blind Boy George Scott Dies


Founding Blind Boy George Scott Dies

George Scott, founding baritone of gospel vocal group the Blind Boys of Alabama, died Wednesday (March 9) at his home in Durham, N.C., according to a statement. He was 75.

"We're grateful to the Lord for letting us have George for as long as we did," said Blind Boys leader Clarence Fountain, who was one of the last people Scott spoke to before his death. "He and I grew up together and sang together from little boys to old men. George was a great singer, he could sing any part in a song. We loved him and he was one of the 'Boys.' He lived a life of service and now he's gone on to his reward."


Born George Lewis Scott in Notasulga, Ala., the artist met Fountain and Jimmy Carter in 1936 at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind. Three years later they formed the traditional gospel singing group, which Scott also accompanied on guitar.

In recent years, the group enjoyed a resurgence in popularity and recently won the Grammy for best traditional soul gospel album for "There Will Be a Light" (Virgin), recorded with singer-songwriter Ben Harper (news). The set featured Scott singing lead on the album's opening track, "Take My Hand."

Though Scott retired from touring last year, he continued to record with the group and will be heard on its new album, "Atom Bomb," due Tuesday (March 15) from Real World Records. No changes are planned in the Blind Boys' touring schedule, which picks up again with a March 18 showcase at the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas.

Funeral services are scheduled for Tuesday (March 15) at Monumental Faith Church in Durham. His family has asked that mourners make donations to the American Diabetes Assn. (http://www.diabetes.org/home.jsp) or send flowers to the city's Holloway Funeral Home.

Scott is survived by his wife, Ludie Lewis Mann Scott; his mother, Hassie Lou Scott; and his sister, Benzie Jackson.


WE REMEMBER GEORGE SCOTT: Blind Boys of Alabama vocalist dies at 75.


*George Scott, a founding member of the Blind Boys of Alabama gospel group, died in his sleep Wednesday morning at his home in Durham, NC. He was 75.

Scott was the booming baritone of the group, which formed at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in the late 1930s. While Scott retired from touring in 2004, he continued recording with the group and sang lead on several key tracks for the Blind Boys' forthcoming album 'Atom Bomb' (Real World Records).

Born George Lewis Scott in Notasulga, Alabama, on March 18, 1929, George met the other founding members of the Blind Boys, Clarence Fountain and Jimmy Carter, at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind in 1936. They formed a singing group in 1939, for which Scott also played guitar, their only instrumental accompaniment in those early days. The group became a gospel sensation in the 1940s and '50s, and spent more than 40 years working mostly in the traditional gospel circuit.


Just last month they won their fourth consecutive Grammy award in the Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album category for the CD they recorded with Ben Harper, entitled ?There Will Be a Light.? Scott sang the lead along with Harper on the opening track to that album, and later performed the song live with Harper and the Blind Boys on ?The Late Show with David Letterman.?

One of the last people George Scott spoke with before his death was the group's leader, Clarence Fountain.

"I spoke to him last night," Fountain said Wednesday, "and he was feeling fine. It just goes to show you never know when you may be talking to someone for the last time, so always be thankful for the people you have in your life. We're grateful to the Lord for letting us have George for as long as we did. He and I grew up together and sang together from little boys to old men. George was a great singer, he could sing any part in a song. We loved him and he was one of the 'Boys.' He lived a life of service and now he's gone on to his reward."

Scott is survived by his wife Ludie Lewis Mann Scott, his mother Hassie Lou Scott, and his sister Benzie Jackson. The funeral service will be held at 1pm on Tuesday, March 15 at Monumental Faith Church. The family has asked that mourners either make donations to the American Diabetes Association or send flowers to Holloway Funeral Home in Durham.

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WGCL CBS 46 Atlanta > Downtown Atlanta Judge, court reporter, deputy shot to death, one other wounded at Atlanta courthouse March 11, 2005, 11:29 AM



ATLANTA (AP) -- A judge, court reporter and deputy were killed and another deputy was wounded Friday in a shooting at the Fulton County Courthouse in downtown Atlanta. Authorities were hunting for the gunman.
The judge, later identified as Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes, was shot on the eighth floor of the courthouse, while one of the deputies was shot on a street corner just outside the building, said Officer Alan Osborne with the Atlanta Police Department.
Authorities were searching for a green 1997 Honda Accord that was carjacked from a newspaper reporter. Highway signs typically used for Amber Alerts were issuing descriptions of the stolen vehicle.
Fulton County Police Lt. Clarence Huber identified the suspect as 33-year-old Brian Nichols, who was on trial before Barnes on rape charges stemming from an incident in August. It was not immediately known how the suspect got a gun.
County employee Ali Lamei, who works on a floor below where the shooting started, said he was told by officers in the building that a sheriff's sergeant was escorting a prisoner into Barnes' courtroom when the prisoner grabbed the sergeant's gun and shot the judge and sergeant.
James Bailey, a juror in the Nichols trial, said the jury was not in the courtroom at the time of the shooting. Nichols, who also faced charges of sodomy, possession of a machine gun, possession of a handgun, and possession of marijuana, had not taken the stand yet in the trial, which started Tuesday.
Bailey said Nichols made him and other jurors nervous. "Every time he looked up, he was staring at you," Bailey said.
District Attorney spokesman Erik Friedly said the shootings started shortly after 9 a.m. on the building's eighth floor.
"We heard some noise. It sounded like three or four shots. At the time, we thought it was just an engine backfiring," said Chuck Cole, a civil defense attorney who was in an adjoining parking deck when he heard gunfire at around 9:10 a.m.
Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor announced the shootings on the floor of the Georgia Senate about an hour later. "It appears that Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes has lost his life, along with his court reporter," Taylor told lawmakers.
One of the deputies died later at Grady Hospital, Atlanta Police Sgt. John Quigley said. He said a second deputy was grazed by a bullet.
Don O'Briant, a features reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was carjacked by the fleeing suspect at a downtown parking garage as the reporter was arriving to work, said Mary Dugenske, a spokeswoman for the newspaper. She said O'Briant was being treated at a nearby hospital was in good condition.
All the judges in the courthouse were locked in their chambers immediately after the shootings. The courthouse and other buildings in downtown Atlanta were locked down. Traffic in the blocks surrounding the courthouse was backed up as police cruisers flooded the area looking for the suspect.
Among the recent cases that Judge Barnes handled was the sentencing of Atlanta Thrashers player Dany Heatley, who pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in the death of a teammate.
Barnes, 64, also drew national attention last month when he took the unusual step of ordering a mother of seven who pleaded guilty to killing her 5-week-old daughter to have a medical procedure that would prevent her from having more children.
Barnes was named to the Fulton County Superior Court bench on July 10, 1998. He also worked as a part-time Fulton County Magistrate and City Court Judge in Hapeville and Fairburn. Barnes was a 1972 graduate of Emory Law School in Atlanta and a graduate of Lebanon Valley College.

CBS 46 Atlanta - GA House Approves Sandy Springs Bill

CBS 46 Atlanta - GA House Approves Sandy Springs Bill: GA House Approves Sandy Springs Bill
Mar 10, 2005, 6:35 PM

ATLANTA (AP) -- Sandy Springs is closer to becoming a city.

The north Fulton County community has long pushed for its own local government. The state House approved the idea 127-to-35 this evening.

A bill for cityhood has been pushed for years by north Fulton lawmakers. But the majority of Fulton County lawmakers opposed it, saying it would hurt the rest of the county if it lost that tax base.

The proposal passed this year because Republicans took control of the state House. The bill now heads to the Senate.

If the bill becomes law, the 86-thousand people in Sandy Springs would get to vote in a referendum whether to become a city.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

BBC> Jackson accuser tells of 'abuse'



The teenage boy accusing Michael Jackson of sexually molesting him has been describing how and when the alleged abuse took place.
Gavin Arvizo, 15, told the jury in Santa Maria that he was abused in the pop star's bedroom at his ranch.
Mr Jackson arrived an hour late to his trial, wearing pyjamas and slippers and complaining of back pain.
The angered judge had threatened to issue a warrant for his arrest unless he arrived within an hour.
In a statement, Michael Jackson's defence said that Mr Jackson had been taken to a hospital for treatment for a severe back problem after tripping and falling over while getting dressed.
'Jesus Juice'
Mr Jackson arrived at about 0938 (1738 GMT), looking frail as he walked gingerly into the courthouse in what appeared to be blue hospital-issue pyjama trousers as his supporters chanted "innocent".
He denies 10 charges including child abuse and false imprisonment.
He said not to tell anyone about the Jesus Juice and said this is like a testimony that we'll be friends forever
Gavin Arvizo
Michael Jackson's accuser
If found guilty he could face a 21-year prison sentence.
Gavin Arvizo, a cancer survivor who was 13 when the abuse he alleges took place, in February and March 2003, described in detail how he was molested.
He said he and Michael Jackson were in bed together and that, after asking the boy lots of questions about sex, Mr Jackson had put his hand down Gavin Arvizo's pyjama bottoms and touched him.
The boy told the court that the experience felt weird and that Mr Jackson tried to comfort him as Gavin felt bad about it.
Gavin also described how he had consumed various kinds of alcoholic drinks - including vodka, wine and brandy - with the star.
Secret drinking
He said they were frequently drunk from fizzy drinks cans.
Describing his introduction to wine Gavin said, "He said, 'You know how Jesus drank wine, well, we call it Jesus Juice'."
Gavin said he thought that the liquid he sipped tasted "ugly".
He said that on one occasion after drinking alcohol with Mr Jackson, he had been given an expensive watch and told to keep their drinking secret.
"He said not to tell anyone about the Jesus Juice and said this is like a testimony that we'll be friends forever".
On Wednesday, Gavin told the court he had slept in Mr Jackson's bedroom where they watched internet pornography together.
The boy said the singer had suggested that he spend the night at his Neverland Ranch, and get permission from his parents - which he did.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/entertainment/4337623.stm

Yemeni Sheik Convicted of Plotting to Fund Terror Groups

March 10, 2005

By WILLIAM GLABERSON

Yemeni cleric who once said Osama bin Laden called him his sheik was convicted of terrorism-financing charges today in a federal court in New York City.
The victory for the Justice Department came in one of the government's most visible terrorism-financing prosecutions, which had for a time appeared uncertain after the F.B.I.'s star informer drew attention by setting himself on fire outside the White House in November.
The sheik, Mohammed Ali Hassan al-Moayad, a prominent Yemeni who once held a government post in his homeland, was convicted after a five-week trial that federal prosecutors portrayed today as providing "an inside view of one campaign" in the government's war on terror.
He was convicted of conspiracy to provide material support to Al Qaeda and Hamas, the Palestinian militant organization, and other charges. His assistant, Mohammed Mohsen Yahya Zayed, was also convicted of conspiracy and other charges.
Both men, who were extradited to this country after they were arrested in Germany in January 2003, face prison terms that could be longer than 30 years. They have received wide support in Yemen.
A jury in Brooklyn federal court returned the verdict today after five days of deliberations in a trial that centered on videotapes that were secretly recorded during a sting operation in Frankfurt in January 2003. The defense had claimed that the sting was nothing more than a trap that snared a vulnerable Yemeni and his aide who were trying to collect money for innocent charities, like a bakery that fed the poor.
But in extensive interviews in a courtroom after the verdict, five of the jurors said they had not been persuaded by the defense arguments and had been offended by defense lawyers' claims that prosecutors were trying to incite their prejudices.
The jurors, three women and two men, said the videotapes recorded in Frankfurt, had been decisive. "We saw the videotapes. There was so much there," said one juror, who added that the jurors had kept transcripts of prosecution translations before them in the jury room.
A woman from the 12-person panel added that the jurors did not believe the defense contention that two government informers who appeared on the tapes had directed the conversation and made it appear that with the sheik and Mr. Zayed were more interested in terrorism than they were.
"They were free to get up and walk out and say they were not interested in doing this," the woman juror said.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/10/national/nationalspecial3/10cnd-sheik.html?ex=1268197200&en=fd5540f79fe6f368&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland

Yemeni Sheik Convicted of Plotting to Fund Terror Groups

March 10, 2005

By WILLIAM GLABERSON

Yemeni cleric who once said Osama bin Laden called him his sheik was convicted of terrorism-financing charges today in a federal court in New York City.
The victory for the Justice Department came in one of the government's most visible terrorism-financing prosecutions, which had for a time appeared uncertain after the F.B.I.'s star informer drew attention by setting himself on fire outside the White House in November.
The sheik, Mohammed Ali Hassan al-Moayad, a prominent Yemeni who once held a government post in his homeland, was convicted after a five-week trial that federal prosecutors portrayed today as providing "an inside view of one campaign" in the government's war on terror.
He was convicted of conspiracy to provide material support to Al Qaeda and Hamas, the Palestinian militant organization, and other charges. His assistant, Mohammed Mohsen Yahya Zayed, was also convicted of conspiracy and other charges.
Both men, who were extradited to this country after they were arrested in Germany in January 2003, face prison terms that could be longer than 30 years. They have received wide support in Yemen.
A jury in Brooklyn federal court returned the verdict today after five days of deliberations in a trial that centered on videotapes that were secretly recorded during a sting operation in Frankfurt in January 2003. The defense had claimed that the sting was nothing more than a trap that snared a vulnerable Yemeni and his aide who were trying to collect money for innocent charities, like a bakery that fed the poor.
But in extensive interviews in a courtroom after the verdict, five of the jurors said they had not been persuaded by the defense arguments and had been offended by defense lawyers' claims that prosecutors were trying to incite their prejudices.
The jurors, three women and two men, said the videotapes recorded in Frankfurt, had been decisive. "We saw the videotapes. There was so much there," said one juror, who added that the jurors had kept transcripts of prosecution translations before them in the jury room.
A woman from the 12-person panel added that the jurors did not believe the defense contention that two government informers who appeared on the tapes had directed the conversation and made it appear that with the sheik and Mr. Zayed were more interested in terrorism than they were.
"They were free to get up and walk out and say they were not interested in doing this," the woman juror said.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/10/national/nationalspecial3/10cnd-sheik.html?ex=1268197200&en=fd5540f79fe6f368&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland

The New York Times > Technology > Sale of I.B.M. Unit to China Passes U.S. Security Muster

The New York Times > Technology > Sale of I.B.M. Unit to China Passes U.S. Security Muster

March 10, 2005
The New York Times
March 10, 2005
Sale of I.B.M. Unit to China Passes U.S. Security Muster
By STEVE LOHR

The Bush administration has completed a national security review of the planned sale of I.B.M.'s personal computer business to Lenovo of China, clearing the way for the deal, I.B.M. announced yesterday.

The unusual scrutiny given to the deal mainly reflects the ambivalence in Washington toward China, and its rising economic and military power.

Other Chinese companies are expected to follow Lenovo's example by shopping for acquisitions in the United States. "The lesson from the I.B.M. experience is that the government is going to be difficult on them all," said William A. Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council and a former trade official in the Clinton administration.

The Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, a multiagency group, reviews purchases of American businesses by overseas corporations for any impact on national security. The I.B.M. inquiry was a full investigation, which occurs in far fewer than 1 percent of cross-border deals, according to former committee members.

The committee's proceedings are secret, and I.B.M. would not say what steps it took to address the concerns of the group, which includes representatives from the Homeland Security, Defense, Justice, Treasury and Commerce Departments. Two people who have been told of the committee's inquiry said I.B.M. made more in the way of commitments and assurances than concessions, which might restrain its sales or product development.

The steps, they said, included agreeing to separate Lenovo's American employees, mainly in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, from I.B.M. workers there who work on other products, like larger server computers and software.

The people close to the inquiry said I.B.M. also agreed to ensure that the chips and other parts in desktop PC's and notebooks were stamped with the name of their manufacturer and country of origin. Such labeling is fairly common among PC makers.

Steven M. Ward Jr., an I.B.M. senior vice president who will become chief executive of Lenovo, said he met with more than a dozen senior government officials to explain the sale for $1.75 billion in cash, stock and debt, announced in December. He said the steps I.B.M. took to gain the approval of the committee would not hobble the business.

"I'm delighted with getting this approval," Mr. Ward said. "And we expect to sell Lenovo PC's and ThinkPads to businesses, governments and individuals around the globe."

Some committee members were concerned that the sale to Lenovo, which is partly state-owned, could result in technology with important military uses being passed to the Chinese, but the people close to the inquiry said I.B.M. addressed that in briefings and demonstrations in Washington in mid-February.

I.B.M. engineers and executives, they said, dismantled a desktop PC and a ThinkPad notebook for the committee, identifying where the components were produced and explaining how the machines were assembled. Most I.B.M. PC's are made in China. They contain Intel microprocessors and are assembled with chips and parts made around the world, though mostly in East Asia.

The I.B.M.-Lenovo episode should prompt Congress to review the authority of the investment committee, which dates from the cold war, said Michael R. Wessel, a member of the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a group established by Congress.

Representative Donald A. Manzullo, an Illinois Republican, said yesterday that he planned to push for hearings to see if the committee's role should be expanded to "take more account of economic security as well as military security."

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

China to have 800 missiles aimed at Taiwan in 2006: defense minister

China to have 800 missiles aimed at Taiwan in 2006: defense minister: "hina to have 800 missiles aimed at Taiwan in 2006: defense minister
hina to have 800 missiles aimed at Taiwan in 2006: defense minister


TAIPEI, March 9 (AFP) - The number of Chinese ballistic missiles targeting Taiwan is expected to reach at least 800 next year, the island's defense minister Lee Jye said Wednesday.

The People's Liberation Army currently has 700 ballistic missiles deployed opposite Taiwan, Lee said in his first report to the new session of parliament.

"The number is estimated to increase to 800 next year," Lee warned in a call for support of a new 480 billion Taiwan dollar (15.24 billion US) arms package aimed at deterring China.

His report came one day after Taipei lodged what one senior Taiwanese official called "the strongest protest" against "threats resorting to violent means" by China, which on Tuesday outlined an anti-secession law aimed at Taiwan.

Beijing reiterated it was prepared to use force to bring the island to heel but only after all other avenues are exhausted.

The alternative to force was peaceful reunification using the one country, two systems model adopted by Hong Kong, according to Wang Zhaoguo, vice chairman of the National People's Congress, or parliament.

Beijing on Friday announced it would boost military spending 12.6 percent this year to 247.7 billion yuan (29.9 billion dollars).

Taiwan's special arms budget calls for the purchase of six US-made Pac-3 anti-missile systems, eight conventional submarines and a fleet of submarine-hunting P-3C aircraft from the United States over 15 years beginning this year.

Since pro-independence president Chen Shui-bian was re-elected in March, Beijing has stressed its long-standing vow to take Taiwan by force should it declare formal independence.

Taiwan has already put into service three US-made PAC-2 anti-missile systems to protect the greater Taipei area.

The defense ministry and Chen have said China would increase the deployment of missiles targeting Taiwan at a speed of 75 per year.

Lee said land-based cruise missiles being developed by China could also be used "to launch a long-distance strike blitz on Taiwan."

Military analysts say Taiwan's military commands, communications, airports and sea ports would be vulnerable to surprise Chinese missile attacks.

Should war break out, China's elite combat troops and marines could attack Taiwan's airports and harbours while its "Fifth Column," or agents, could strike from within, Lee said.

China sees Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting to be unified since their split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.

Taipei's cabinet last year approved a special weapons budget of 610.8 billion Taiwan dollars but the opposition called it excessive and demanded a cutback to 300 billion dollars.

In a bid to win parliament's approval, the government last month slashed by almost a quarter the cost of the package.

Washington has warned there would be "repercussions" if Taiwan fails to approve the budget, officials have said.

Some critics say Taiwan cannot afford the spending while others say the weaponry will not be delivered in time to fend off any attack from China in coming years.

Others say it could fuel an arms race with Beijing, which regards the island as a renegade province.

The United States remains the leading arms supplier to Taiwan despite its switching of diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979.

Under the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, the United States is obliged to provide arms "of a defensive nature" to the island.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

BBC NEWS | World | Asia-Pacific | Malaysia migrant ban hits firms

BBC NEWS | World | Asia-Pacific | Malaysia migrant ban hits firms<

Malaysia migrant ban hits firms
Malaysian businesses are complaining of labour shortages following the mass exodus of illegal workers.

Some 500,000 migrants left Malaysia to avoid possible fines, jail and whipping during a four-month amnesty ahead of a mass deportation operation.

Malaysia says they can return but only as long as they have legal documents from their home country.

But the government in Kuala Lumpur has accused Indonesia of dragging its heels over the return of its workers.

Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak says Indonesia is putting obstacles in the way of their return.

He complained that those who want to come back are being charged over $300 in processing fees, which is equivalent to more than six weeks wages.

The issuing of documents is also taking too long, he said.

"We hope Indonesia could have a more efficient and effective system to facilitate the return of its workers here," he was quoted as saying in Malaysia's New Straits Times online newspaper.

'No choice'

Malaysian construction companies and oil palm plantations have been among the first to feel the effects of the decision to deport illegal workers.

Factories and restaurants have also been left under-staffed.


ILLEGAL WORKFORCE
400,000-600,000 foreigners have already left Malaysia
At least 200,000 remain
Many work in construction, plantations and domestic service
They risk jail, fines and whipping if found

Mr Razak said Indonesian workers would be given priority to return and take up the jobs because they are familiar with the country.

"But we will start taking in workers from other countries if the situation does not improve... We have no choice," he said.

More than 300,000 immigration officers and volunteer reservists have been called up to help expel the hundreds of thousands of illegal workers who did not leave during the amnesty.

The operation, launched last week, has been prompted in part by fears of rising crime, says the BBC's Jonathan Kent in Kuala Lumpur.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/4328077.stm

Monday, March 07, 2005

Yahoo! News - Taiwan Says Top Suspect in Chen Shooting Is Dead

Yahoo! News - Taiwan Says Top Suspect in Chen Shooting Is Dead: "

World - Reuters
Reuters
Taiwan Says Top Suspect in Chen Shooting Is Dead

Mon Mar 7, 4:07 AM ET

Add to My Yahoo! World - Reuters

By Michael Kramer

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan police named a dead unemployed man as their top suspect for last year's election-eve shooting of President Chen Shui-bian and said the man committed suicide by drowning days after the March attack.



The suspect, Chen Yi-hsiung, was likely motivated by dissatisfaction with the government, and left behind a suicide note saying he wanted to kill himself to relieve the burden on his family, investigators said Monday.

"By tracing the bullets, Chen Yi-hsiung is the most likely suspect," Hou Yu-ih, commissioner of the Criminal Investigation Bureau, told a news conference.

When asked if the case had been solved, Hou said: "The overall direction is already very, very clear" and further investigations would include trying to find the suspect's gun.

The incumbent Chen Shui-bian won a second four-year term by a razor-thin margin the day after the attack. Opposition parties have said they suspect the shooting might have been staged for sympathy votes.

More than half a million people marched in the streets outside the presidential office in the weeks after the election to demand an impartial investigation into the attack.

Although investigators went to great lengths to detail their year-long probe at the 1- hour news conference, the main opposition Nationalist Party immediately rejected the findings.

"This explanation is an attempt to establish credibility with the people. It could become an excuse not to continue to investigate," said Nationalist spokesman Chang Jung-kung.

"They have all the administrative power. For us to find out the truth, we need a fair investigation committee."

FAMILY HIDES CONNECTIONS

Conspiracy theorists will likely point to a lack of direct evidence linking Chen Yi-hsiung to the shooting -- the weapon has not been found, he is dead and his suicide notes had been burned or shredded by his family.

Citing testimony from Chen Yi-hsiung's relatives, Hou said Chen was confronted by his wife after local television showed a picture of him as an unidentified person on the scene whom police were seeking for questioning.

His wife asked him what he was doing there and whether he shot the president, and worried what the public might say about their family, the relatives said. Chen had answered: "I will deal with what I did," according to Hou.

"This conversation with his wife proves 'I committed this case, and I will deal with it'," Hou said.

Police had security camera footage of Chen Yi-hsung running away from the scene days after the shooting, but said the investigation took nearly a year as his family agreed among themselves to deny any connection to the case after the suicide.

Police were forced to work backwards from bullets and casings on the scene, tracing them to the underground factory that manufactured and sold the weapons and ammunition until investigators had enough evidence to confront relatives.

The family then relented and told police about the contents of Chen Yi-hsiung's suicide notes, which they had destroyed. In one note he said he was becoming more and more depressed after the president was re-elected.

"The papers that he left behind indicated he was unhappy with current social affairs," Hou said.

A statement from the president's office thanked the police for their hard work and said it respected their professional investigation and hoped the case could be closed soon.

(Additional reporting by Richard Dobson)

The New York Times > Washington > Bush Picks Critic of U.N. to Serve as Ambassador to It

The New York Times > Washington > Bush Picks Critic of U.N. to Serve as Ambassador to It: March 7, 2005
Bush Picks Critic of U.N. to Serve as Ambassador to It
By BRIAN KNOWLTON,
International Herald Tribune

WASHINGTON, March 7 - President Bush is nominating Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton, , a blunt-spoken hawk with a history of unveiled skepticism toward the United Nations, to be the United States ambassador to the organization, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced today.

"The president and I have asked John to do this work because he knows how to get things done," Ms. Rice said. "He is a tough-minded diplomat, he has a strong record of success, and he has a proven track record of effective multilateralism."

Ms. Rice credited Mr. Bolton, now undersecretary for arms control, with helping to build an international coalition to combat the spread of weapons of mass destruction, helping to negotiate Libya's agreement to renounce such weapons, and serving as chief negotiator of the Treaty of Moscow, which called for sharp reductions of American and Russian nuclear warheads.

He also worked with the first President George Bush as assistant secretary of state for international organizations.

But the choice of Mr. Bolton, who has long demonstrated a preference for a direct approach to diplomacy, appeared likely to raise concerns abroad and rattled some Democrats.

Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts asked in a statement, "if the president is serious about reaching out to the world, why would he choose someone who has expressed such disdain for working with our allies?" And the Senate minority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, called the nomination a "disappointing choice and one that sends all the wrong signals."

Mr. Bolton, 56, is considered one of the administration's leading conservative hawks. He pressed the case for war with Iraq. And he has been witheringly critical of autocratic countries including North Korea, Iran, Syria and Cuba.

Today, Mr. Bolton promised to work closely with members of Congress to advance Bush's policies and said his record showed "clear support for effective multilateral diplomacy."

"The United Nations affords us the opportunity to move our policies forward," said Mr. Bolton, who acknowledged that in the past he has been critical of the organization.

Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, twice today appeared to allude to Mr. Bush's desire to see changes at the United Nations, underscoring the president's "strong commitment to making sure that multilateral organizations are effective."

The United Nations is at a delicate point, under fire over abuses of the Iraq oil-for-food program and allegations of sexual abuse by United Nations peacekeepers in Congo. This has added to harsh criticism of the organization by some American conservatives.

Nor has the Bush administration yet completely moved past tensions dating from the Iraq war. Mr. Bolton himself has led an administration effort to oust Mohamed ElBaradei as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency; critics have said the administration was angered that Mr. ElBaradei did not take a tougher tone on the Iranian nuclear program.

One analyst, Nile Gardiner, a security specialist at the conservative Heritage Foundation, suggested that Mr. Bolton's tough approach might be controversial in places but that was exactly what the administration wanted at the United Nations.

"John Bolton will be a U.S. ambassador who aggressively pursues the U.S. national interest at the United Nations, which includes fundamental reform of the U.N., and bringing the U.N. kicking and screaming into the 21st century," he said. "The White House has chosen someone who will be tenacious and aggressive in pursuing the president's goals."

Yet, Mr. Bolton's past comments on the world body seemed dismissive. He has been widely quoted as saying at a 1994 conference that "if the UN secretariat building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference."

Mr. Bolton would succeed John C. Danforth, who resigned as the United Nations ambassador in January. He must be confirmed by the Senate for the post, which is being filled temporarily by Anne Patterson, a career foreign service officer.

Mr. Bolton's confirmation hearings appear sure to generate controversy, possibly even among some Republicans, although few expect the nomination to be blocked. Mr. Reid, the Democratic Senate leader, said Mr. Bolton would have "much to answer for" during confirmation hearings.

"At a time when President Bush has recognized we need to begin repairing our damaged relations with the rest of the world," Mr. Reid said in a statement, "he nominates someone with a long history of being opposed to working cooperatively with other nations."

Some diplomatic observers saw Mr. Bolton as an odd choice.

"Mr. Bolton is seen as among the most hawkish of President Bush's advisers, and as among those who are most sympathetic toward unilateral action, and perhaps least sympathetic toward a multilateral approach to things," said Robert Hathaway, director of Asia studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington.

"Certainly, many people around the world will see this nomination as raising questions about the president's sincerity in wanting to work in a cooperative fashion, a multilateral fashion," he said.

After a period in which the Bush administration has emphasized a desire for international cooperation, underscored by the president's trip to Europe, the nomination of Mr. Bolton appeared to show that hard-liners on foreign policy still carry clout in a clearly divided administration. Mr. Bolton has been championed in the past by Vice President Dick Cheney.

David Abshire, a former colleague of Mr. Bolton when he was at the American Enterprise Institute and a former ambassador to NATO, defended the nominee's plainspoken ways. "I think it's important to keep in perspective that while he was undersecretary of state working against proliferation, it was his job to be extremely blunt," he said.

Mr. Abshire said Mr. Bolton's position in the first Bush administration involved "alliance building," and he added, "When he's at the U.N., where collegial relations are important, he's got that kind of experience."

And Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, who served as the United Nations ambassador under President Ronald Reagan, said in 2003 that Mr. Bolton "loves to tussle," adding, "He may do diplomatic jobs for the U.S. government, but John is not a diplomat."

In 1999, Mr. Bolton called for full diplomatic recognition of Taiwan and said the notion that "China would actually respond with force is a fantasy."

His hard line, and blunt talk, on nuclear negotiations with North Korea has roiled the Bush administration's already-difficult dealings with the government there.

In July 2003, as delicate six-party talks including North Korean were about to start, Mr. called Kim Jong Il, the North Korean leader, a "tyrannical dictator" of a country where "life is a hellish nightmare."

North Korea responded furiously, saying that "such human scum and bloodsucker is not entitled to take part in the talks" and that Pyongyang no longer considered Mr. Bolton to represent the administration. The State Department removed him from its delegation.

Mr. Hathaway of the Wilson Center said other parties to the Korean nuclear talks had at least privately challenged Mr. Bolton's confrontational approach. But he also noted that the United Nations, for now, "is not where the action is on the North Korea question."

Mr. Bolton also raised concerns when he was quoted by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz in early 2003 as saying that the United States, after defeating Iraq, would "deal with" Iran, Syria and North Korea. And in June of that year he told the BBC that in the case of Iran, "all options are on the table."

In a 2002 interview with The New York Times, Mr. Bolton was asked about what seemed to be mixed signals from the Bush administration on North Korea. He grabbed a book from a shelf and laid it on the table. Its title: "The End of North Korea."

"That," he told the interviewer, "is our policy."

CNN.com - Ex-hostage disputes U.S. account of shooting - Mar 6, 2005

Ex-hostage disputes U.S. account of shooting
Italian journalist: 'I only remember fire'


ROME, Italy (CNN) -- An Italian journalist shot by U.S. forces in Iraq shortly after being freed from her captors disputes a U.S. account of the incident in which she was wounded and a security agent protecting her was killed.

In an article published Sunday in her communist newspaper, Il Manifesto, Giuliana Sgrena wrote, "Our car was driving slowly," and "the Americans fired without motive." (Read the article)

She described a "rain of fire and bullets" in the incident.

The U.S. military said Sgrena's car rapidly approached a checkpoint Friday night, and those inside ignored repeated warnings to stop.

Troops used arm signals and flashing white lights, fired warning shots in front of the car, and shot into the engine block when the driver did not stop, the military said in a statement.

But in an interview with Italy's La 7 Television, the 56-year-old journalist said "there was no bright light, no signal."

And Italian magistrate Franco Ionta said Sgrena reported the incident was not at a checkpoint, but rather that the shots came from "a patrol that shot as soon as they lit us up with a spotlight."

In an interview with Sky TV, Sgrena said "feeling yourself covered with avalanche of gunfire from a tank that is beside you, that did not give you any warning that it was about to attack if we did not stop -- this is absolutely inconceivable even in normal situations, even if they hadn't known that we were there, that we were supposed to come through."

Rules of engagement permit coalition troops to use escalating levels of force if they feel threatened. They can use lethal force, for example, if a car refuses to stop for a checkpoint.

It remains unclear whether U.S. officials knew that the Italian security team would be taking Sgrena to the airport. U.S. and Italian officials have not said.

Sgrena was slightly wounded in the shoulder and underwent treatment at a U.S. hospital in Baghdad. She is now back in Rome, getting follow-up treatment at the city's military hospital.

Her release Friday came one month to the day after she was abducted outside a mosque in Baghdad.

Italian media suggest a ransom was paid for her release, but government officials are not commenting on the reports. The Italian government has paid ransoms to free other hostages in the past.

In her article Sunday, headlined "My truth," Sgrena described the harrowing ordeal of "the most dramatic day of my life" -- including the moment that 50-year-old security agent Nicola Calipari threw himself on her to protect her from the bullets and she heard "his last breath."

An autopsy found Calipari, an experienced negotiator who had previously secured the release of other Italian hostages in Baghdad, was killed by a single shot to the head and died instantly. (Profile)

His body is lying in state at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Rome, where visitors have been paying their respects, and a state funeral was planned for Monday. President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi said he would award Calipari, a married father of two, the gold medal of valor for his heroism.

One other member of the Italian secret service was in the car as well and was wounded. Italian officials said earlier there were two others in the car, but said Sunday there was only one other.

Sgrena wrote that after being released by her captors, she was transferred to the custody of Calipari and the other guards. She said Calipari "kept on talking and talking, you couldn't contain him, an avalanche of friendly phrases and jokes. I finally felt an almost physical consolation, warmth that I had forgotten for some time."

She was told "we were less than a kilometer" from the airport, where a plane was waiting to take her back to Rome, "when ... I only remember fire. At that point, a rain of fire and bullets hit us, shutting up forever the cheerful voices of a few minutes earlier."

"The driver started yelling that we were Italians. 'We are Italians, we are Italians.' Nicola Calipari threw himself on me to protect me and immediately, I repeat, immediately I heard his last breath as he was dying on me. I must have felt physical pain, I didn't know why."

She then thought of something her captors had told her: "The Americans don't want you to go back."

Saturday, the left-leaning Il Manifesto accused U.S. forces of "assassinating" Calipari.

Sgrena's partner, Pierre Scolari, also blamed the shooting on the U.S. government, suggesting the incident was intentional.

"I hope the Italian government does something because either this was an ambush, as I think, or we are dealing with imbeciles or terrorized kids who shoot at anyone," he said, according to Reuters.

Sgrena and her newspaper fiercely oppose the war. She wrote that she told her kidnappers that repeatedly, but they refused to let her go.
Rome protests

President Bush called Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi Friday night to express his regrets about the shootings and pledged a full investigation.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called his Italian counterpart Saturday morning also to offer his "regret at the loss of life and the situation," a senior defense official said Sunday.

The Iraq war has been extremely unpopular in Italy from the beginning, and the incidents Friday triggered new protests. Thousands packed streets in Rome carrying signs condemning the war and the Bush administration.

CNN's Alessio Vinci and Elise Labott contributed to this report.

Find this article at:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe/03/06/italy.iraq/index.htm

CNN.com - Ex-hostage disputes U.S. account of shooting - Mar 6, 2005

CNN.com - Ex-hostage disputes U.S. account of shooting - Mar 6, 2005

CNN.com - Ex-hostage disputes U.S. account of shooting - Mar 6, 2005

Ex-hostage disputes U.S. account of shooting
Italian journalist: 'I only remember fire'


ROME, Italy (CNN) -- An Italian journalist shot by U.S. forces in Iraq shortly after being freed from her captors disputes a U.S. account of the incident in which she was wounded and a security agent protecting her was killed.

In an article published Sunday in her communist newspaper, Il Manifesto, Giuliana Sgrena wrote, "Our car was driving slowly," and "the Americans fired without motive." (Read the article)

She described a "rain of fire and bullets" in the incident.

The U.S. military said Sgrena's car rapidly approached a checkpoint Friday night, and those inside ignored repeated warnings to stop.

Troops used arm signals and flashing white lights, fired warning shots in front of the car, and shot into the engine block when the driver did not stop, the military said in a statement.

But in an interview with Italy's La 7 Television, the 56-year-old journalist said "there was no bright light, no signal."

And Italian magistrate Franco Ionta said Sgrena reported the incident was not at a checkpoint, but rather that the shots came from "a patrol that shot as soon as they lit us up with a spotlight."

In an interview with Sky TV, Sgrena said "feeling yourself covered with avalanche of gunfire from a tank that is beside you, that did not give you any warning that it was about to attack if we did not stop -- this is absolutely inconceivable even in normal situations, even if they hadn't known that we were there, that we were supposed to come through."

Rules of engagement permit coalition troops to use escalating levels of force if they feel threatened. They can use lethal force, for example, if a car refuses to stop for a checkpoint.

It remains unclear whether U.S. officials knew that the Italian security team would be taking Sgrena to the airport. U.S. and Italian officials have not said.

Sgrena was slightly wounded in the shoulder and underwent treatment at a U.S. hospital in Baghdad. She is now back in Rome, getting follow-up treatment at the city's military hospital.

Her release Friday came one month to the day after she was abducted outside a mosque in Baghdad.

Italian media suggest a ransom was paid for her release, but government officials are not commenting on the reports. The Italian government has paid ransoms to free other hostages in the past.

In her article Sunday, headlined "My truth," Sgrena described the harrowing ordeal of "the most dramatic day of my life" -- including the moment that 50-year-old security agent Nicola Calipari threw himself on her to protect her from the bullets and she heard "his last breath."

An autopsy found Calipari, an experienced negotiator who had previously secured the release of other Italian hostages in Baghdad, was killed by a single shot to the head and died instantly. (Profile)

His body is lying in state at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Rome, where visitors have been paying their respects, and a state funeral was planned for Monday. President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi said he would award Calipari, a married father of two, the gold medal of valor for his heroism.

One other member of the Italian secret service was in the car as well and was wounded. Italian officials said earlier there were two others in the car, but said Sunday there was only one other.

Sgrena wrote that after being released by her captors, she was transferred to the custody of Calipari and the other guards. She said Calipari "kept on talking and talking, you couldn't contain him, an avalanche of friendly phrases and jokes. I finally felt an almost physical consolation, warmth that I had forgotten for some time."

She was told "we were less than a kilometer" from the airport, where a plane was waiting to take her back to Rome, "when ... I only remember fire. At that point, a rain of fire and bullets hit us, shutting up forever the cheerful voices of a few minutes earlier."

"The driver started yelling that we were Italians. 'We are Italians, we are Italians.' Nicola Calipari threw himself on me to protect me and immediately, I repeat, immediately I heard his last breath as he was dying on me. I must have felt physical pain, I didn't know why."

She then thought of something her captors had told her: "The Americans don't want you to go back."

Saturday, the left-leaning Il Manifesto accused U.S. forces of "assassinating" Calipari.

Sgrena's partner, Pierre Scolari, also blamed the shooting on the U.S. government, suggesting the incident was intentional.

"I hope the Italian government does something because either this was an ambush, as I think, or we are dealing with imbeciles or terrorized kids who shoot at anyone," he said, according to Reuters.

Sgrena and her newspaper fiercely oppose the war. She wrote that she told her kidnappers that repeatedly, but they refused to let her go.
Rome protests

President Bush called Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi Friday night to express his regrets about the shootings and pledged a full investigation.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called his Italian counterpart Saturday morning also to offer his "regret at the loss of life and the situation," a senior defense official said Sunday.

The Iraq war has been extremely unpopular in Italy from the beginning, and the incidents Friday triggered new protests. Thousands packed streets in Rome carrying signs condemning the war and the Bush administration.

CNN's Alessio Vinci and Elise Labott contributed to this report.

Find this article at:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe/03/06/italy.iraq/index.htm

BBC SPORT | Golf | Woods returns as world number one

BBC SPORT | Golf | Woods returns as world number one

Tiger Woods reclaimed his place as world number one after beating Phil Mickelson by one shot to win the Ford Championship title in Florida.

Woods trailed Mickelson by two strokes going into the final round in Miami but carded a 66 to end on 24-under-par.

Mickelson was still one up at the turn but Woods fired a eagle at the 12th and a birdie at the 17th to take the lead.

Woods had held top spot for a record 264 straight weeks before losing the honour to Vijay Singh last September.

Singh, who was number one for 26 weeks, fired a final-round 68 to end on 19 under with Zach Johnson.


BBC NEWS | Middle East | Syrian pullback 'by end of March'

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Syrian pullback 'by end of March'

Syrian pullback 'by end of March'
Syrian troops will withdraw to the Bekaa valley in eastern Lebanon by the end of March, the two countries' presidents have agreed at a summit.

The announcement comes after weeks of international pressure and protests in the Lebanese capital Beirut.

Up to 5,000 Syrian troops will leave outposts overlooking Beirut, but the fate of the 14,000-strong Syrian garrison has been deferred.

France, Germany and the US have called for an immediate withdrawal of troops.

But a joint Syrian-Lebanese statement said the "size and length of stay of Syrian forces in Bekaa" would be agreed a month after the initial redeployment.

Witnesses quoted by Reuters news agency said Syrian soldiers in several locations in the mountains overlooking Beirut have already started packing equipment.

Tens of thousands of anti-Syrian protesters returned to Beirut's Martyrs Square to wave Lebanese flags and chant slogans calling for "freedom, sovereignty, independence".

It has been the scene of demonstrations ever since the death of former PM Rafik Hariri three weeks ago in a car bomb that many Lebanese blamed on Syria, although Damascus has denied responsibility.

There are also reports that unknown assailants have attacked Syrian workers sleeping in Mr Hariri's home city of Sidon, injuring three of them.

Careful wording

Monday's meeting in Damascus between President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and Lebanon's Syrian-backed President Emile Lahoud appears to fall well short of international expectations for a Syrian pullout.


SYRIA IN LEBANON
Military intervention begins in 1976
30,000 troops in Lebanon during 1980s, currently 15,000
Syrian forces help end Lebanese civil war in 1990 and maintain peace
Calls for Syrian withdrawal increase in 2000 after Israeli pullout from S Lebanon
UN resolution calling for foreign forces' withdrawal in Sept 2004

Officials have been talking about a two-phase process in which troops would initially move to the Bekaa, and then deploy along the Syrian border.

At the meeting in Damascus, Lebanese presidential spokesman Rafik Shalala said Mr Lahoud thanked Syria for helping Lebanon after the 1975-90 civil war and "the sacrifices made by the Syrian army".

He said Mr Lahoud stressed continuing co-operation and "the unity of the Lebanese-Syrian position in confronting the challenges".

BBC correspondent Kim Ghattas says Syrian officials have worded their statements to leave room for their troops to remain just across the border in Lebanese territory.

The US has demanded that all the troops leave Lebanon by May, in time for elections.

Peacekeepers

Syrian troops entered Lebanon in 1976 as peacekeepers during the 1975-1990 civil war, but have remained since, while Damascus has dominated Lebanese affairs.

The Syrian president said that after the redeployment, Lebanon and Syria "will have fulfilled our obligations under the Taif accord and under [UN Security Council] Resolution 1559".

The 1989 Taif accord, which ended the Lebanese civil war, stipulates a phased withdrawal, while the 2004 UN resolution calls for foreign forces to leave Lebanon and its militant groups to disarm.

The United States has kept up the pressure on Syria, saying Mr Assad's pledge was inadequate.

"It's clear to us, not just the United States, but the international community, that his words are insufficient," State Department spokesman Adam Ereli told al-Hurra television.

"We have not heard the words: 'immediate and full withdrawal'," he told the US-financed Arab satellite channel.

Lebanon's pro-Syrian Hezbollah guerrilla movement has denounced what it sees as Western interference and called for a "massive popular gathering" in support of Syria on Tuesday.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/4323463.stm

China News : China Tough on Taiwan But Plays Down Threat to World, ( Breaking News,Kerala news, India News,Us,UK,Kerala Shopping,Onam Special, Kerala

China News : China: China Tough on Taiwan But Plays Down Threat to World
24 Hours,28 minutes Ago

[China News]: BEIJING - Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing struck a hawkish tone on Taiwan on Sunday but sought to calm jittery nerves over his country's growing global clout, saying China was not a threat to anyone.

Disputes with the United States and Japan should be resolved through dialogue, Li said but made clear China would brook no interference in its drive to reunite with Taiwan, the self-governing island it claims as its own.

Japan and China are at odds over everything from territorial claims to lingering wartime resentment, and Beijing's human rights record and weapons proliferation are perennial issues with Washington. But last month both Japan and the United States listed security in the Taiwan Strait as a common concern.

"Any practice of putting Taiwan directly or indirectly into the scope of Japan-U.S. security cooperation constitutes an encroachment on China's sovereignty and interference in internal affairs," Li told a news conference during the annual parliament session.

"The Chinese government and people are firmly against such activity."

This year's parliament session is being dominated by an anti-secession law, certain to be ratified, that will codify China's policies toward Taiwan and may provide a legal basis for an attack if it declares independence.

The law has caused alarm over the prospect of heightened tensions in the Taiwan Strait. The United States, which has pledged to help defend the island, fears being drawn into a potential conflict that would compromise its interests in China.

But Li stressed that its purpose was to promote peaceful reunification and he played down concerns that China's growing economic might would lead to belligerent diplomacy.

"It is a very small number of people who are still advocating China as a threat. The theories those people spread are unfounded and unscientific," said Li, pointing out that U.S. defense spending last year was 18 times that of China.

Li, a fluent English-speaker and former ambassador to the United States, also said China's appetite for oil to feed its booming economy would not lead to a rise in crude prices.

"China is not only a big energy consumer, but also a premier producer. China's demand can be mainly met by its domestic resources," he said.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

The New York Times > New York Region > As Clinton Wins G.O.P. Friends, Her Rivals' Task Toughens

The New York Times > New York Region > March 6, 2005
As Clinton Wins G.O.P. Friends, Her Rivals' Task Toughens
By RAYMOND HERNANDEZ

The intimate gathering at a private home in Corning, N.Y., was pretty typical for an upstate fund-raiser featuring Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton: dozens of donors clustered in the terrace, listening to her speak, as they sipped wine and nibbled on hors d'oeuvres.

But one thing made the event unusual: The host was a prominent Republican businessman whose brother Amo Houghton was the popular nine-term Republican congressman from the area who, it turns out, gives Mrs. Clinton, a Democrat, an "A-plus" for the job she is doing.

His brother James, chairman of Corning Inc., agreed. "When I introduced Hillary, I told the crowd that the last time a Houghton had a fund-raiser for a Democrat was about 1812," he said.

With her 2006 re-election campaign approaching, New York Republican leaders vow to rally party loyalists in a broad effort to topple Mrs. Clinton, who has long engendered deep antipathy on the right.

But as the fund-raiser last year in the heavily Republican town of Corning illustrated, the party may have a bit of a problem on its hands.

In the four years since taking office, Mrs. Clinton has managed to cultivate a bipartisan, above-the-fray image that has made her a surprisingly welcome figure in some New York Republican circles, even as she remains exceedingly popular with her liberal base.

A recent poll by The New York Times, for example, showed that Mrs. Clinton's popularity had sharply improved among Republicans voters surveyed, with 49 percent saying they approved of the job she was doing, compared with 37 percent who expressed similar sentiments in October 2002.

But perhaps nothing demonstrates her improved standing with the opposition as much as the close ties she has forged with many leading Republican officials in the state, who say that they have been pleasantly surprised by what they describe as the nuts-and-bolts pragmatism of her style.

Only five years ago, for example, Representative Thomas M. Reynolds of Buffalo mocked Mrs. Clinton as a "a tourist who has lost her way," alluding to the fact that she had not lived in New York before deciding to run for the Senate.

But these days, Mr. Reynolds, a Republican who is frequently mentioned as a possible candidate for speaker of the House, says he considers Ms. Clinton an ally in his effort to deliver aid to western New York.

In fact, he said that his work with Mrs. Clinton had prompted the local newspaper in his district to call them the "odd couple."

"I like Senator Clinton," said Mr. Reynolds, a friend and adviser to Gov. George E. Pataki. "I've found that when she says she will take on a job with me, she does it."

But surely Mr. Reynolds wants a Republican to take Mrs. Clinton's seat, no? "New York is a big blue state," he responded, referring to the states with large Democratic voter enrollment. "I will work with whoever the electorate puts in those positions."

Nobody expects top Republicans like Mr. Reynolds to cross party lines and endorse Mrs. Clinton. But some political strategists say the Republican Party will have a hard time making a strong case against her, since she will be able to point to the positive reviews she has gotten from her Republican colleagues over the year.

"It certainly helps to neutralize the attacks against her," said Lee M. Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

The emerging view of Mrs. Clinton among leading New York Republicans would have been unimaginable four years ago, when her political rivals cast her as a carpetbagger who had no real interest in New York beyond seeing it as a springboard to the presidency.

Political analysts say that Mrs. Clinton's improved standing reflects her meticulous efforts to win over critics - as well as the tendency among politicians to look past party differences and find common interests once in office.

But these strategists also say that the unusually open support she is enjoying among Republicans highlights a lack of party discipline that has been plaguing the New York Republican Party in recent years.

Mr. Miringoff said that many rank-and-file Republicans apparently felt they had less to lose in bucking the party leadership than in straining relations with a highly popular United States senator.

"It's a party that is really hurting," Mr. Miringoff said, referring to Republicans. "And so self-interest and self-preservation are taking over."

The Republicans giving Mrs. Clinton high marks include Representative John M. McHugh, who represents New York's economically beleaguered North Country, a politically conservative region that Mrs. Clinton visits frequently.

In an interview, the congressman said that Mrs. Clinton had been helpful to him from her seat on the Senate Armed Services Committee in steering money to Fort Drum, an Army base in Watertown that provides an economic lift to the area.

"Our other senators have been helpful," he said, referring to the work Mrs. Clinton's predecessors have done on behalf of Fort Drum. "But they have not had the advantage of being on the authorizing committee."

As for the 2006 Senate race, he did not sound particularly enthusiastic about the prospect of campaigning against Mrs. Clinton. "We share constituents," explained Mr. McHugh, "and, frankly, the challenges are big enough without erecting artificial partisan barriers."

Another Republican, Representative Peter T. King of Nassau County, struck a similar note in recent interview. He described Mrs. Clinton as a celebrity senator who is willing to take a subordinate role on an issue she cares about, rather than allowing her involvement to become a distraction.

For instance, Mr. King recalled an occasion when Mrs. Clinton suggested that he find another senator to be a co-sponsor of legislation that would benefit New York, because she figured that her presence on the bill would fire up the opposition. "There are very few politicians in public life who have the composure to step back, knowing that they will win in the end," he said.

Mr. King also said that Mrs. Clinton had been anything but the liberal extremist that her conservative critics accused her of being. "I'm not going to vote for her and probably disagree with her on 70 percent of the issues," he said. "But I think that too many Republicans who criticize Hillary Clinton sound like Michael Moore criticizing George Bush."

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Syria Offers Gradual Pullback of Its Troops From Lebanon

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Syria Offers Gradual Pullback of Its Troops From Lebanon: "March 6, 2005
Syria Offers Gradual Pullback of Its Troops From Lebanon
By HASSAN M. FATTAH and DAVID E. SANGER

BEIRUT, March 5 - President Bashar al-Assad of Syria told the Syrian Parliament on Saturday that he planned to order a gradual pullback to Lebanese territory near Syria's borders, a move that amounted to a refusal to comply with international demands for the rapid, full withdrawal of all of his country's troops and intelligence agents from Lebanon.

President Assad said that his "gradual and organized withdrawal" would fulfill Syria's obligations under a United Nations mandate and under the Taif accord, a 15-year-old agreement that was negotiated with Arab nations and that Syria has never put into effect.

But he gave no timetable, and left several loopholes for the withdrawal. He said all troops would withdraw to the Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon and eventually to areas "toward the border," phrasing that an aide later said meant on the Syrian side.

President Bush, in his weekly radio address, broadcast less than two hours before Mr. Assad spoke, made clear that he was demanding a full withdrawal before planned elections in Lebanon in May.

"Syria has been an occupying force in Lebanon for nearly three decades, and Syria's support for terrorism remains a key obstacle to peace in the broader Middle East," Mr. Bush said, escalating a weeklong campaign to pressure the Assad government.

"Today, America and Europe are standing together with the Lebanese people," he said, citing the Security Council resolution, which requires that "all foreign forces be withdrawn, and that free and fair elections be conducted without foreign influence."

After Mr. Assad's speech, a senior Syrian cabinet official, Buthaina Shaaban, told CNN that Mr. Assad had in fact meant that the troops would be moved to the Syrian side of the border.

France, which drafted the United Nations mandate in September with the United States, promptly released a statement through its Foreign Ministry, saying, "We are therefore expecting the complete withdrawal of its troops and services from Lebanon as soon as possible."

But members of the Syrian government have often contradicted or denied Mr. Assad's positions. Whether the Syrian minister's comments represented a sincere effort to clarify the speech, an attempt to subdue international pressure, or an expression of confusion within the government, Mr. Assad's often combative speech showed that he had no inclination to allow Syria's strong influence over Lebanon to be weakened.

"A Syrian pullout from Lebanon does not mean that Syria will vanish from Lebanon," he said. "We hope to have stronger relations with Lebanon in the future."

On Saturday, State Department officials stressed again that only a rapid, full withdrawal was acceptable.

"President Assad's announcement is not enough," said Darla Jordan, a State Department spokeswoman. "As President Bush said Friday, when the United States and France and others say withdraw, we mean complete withdrawal. No half-hearted measures."

Mr. Assad, sounding by turns like a lawyer pressing his case and a college professor giving a history lecture, sought to defend Syria's presence in Lebanon. He also said that he remained committed to peace in the Middle East but that Israel had blocked progress.

He addressed American assertions that Syria was supporting the insurgency in Iraq, insisting that his country had done everything it could to stop the flow of foreign fighters over its borders.

"Usually, the Americans say they cannot control their borders with Mexico," he said, with a laugh, "yet they tell us to control our borders."

Aides to President Bush, anticipating Mr. Assad's offer of a partial withdrawal, had said Friday it would be rejected.

"Anything less - phased withdrawal, partial withdrawal, leaving the intelligence agents in place - is a violation of the resolution," a senior aide said in a briefing. "How fair an election can Lebanon hold if the troops are there to intimidate voters, people running for election, or people now in office?"

But it is unclear what kind of additional pressure Mr. Bush and his European allies are willing to bring. In Martyrs' Square here, the scene of many demonstrations in recent weeks, thousands of protesters came Saturday morning to watch a broadcast of Mr. Assad's speech on projection screens, at times booing and jeering, or calling "Liar!" and "Bush sends his greetings!"

The protesters, many dressed in white, waved Lebanese flags and called for "freedom, sovereignty and independence."

For his part, Mr. Assad reserved some of his barbs specifically for the Lebanese opposition movement, accusing it of "marketing its politics" during the recent demonstrations that called for Syria's withdrawal. "If TV cameras were to zoom out" from Martyrs' Square, he said, they would show that "no one else was there."

Mr. Bush and his aides clearly believe that Mr. Assad is on the ropes and that continued pressure will force him out of Lebanon. The thought is that the presence of American forces in Iraq adds to the psychological pressure, though they have been careful not to say whether any military force overt or covert will be used to add to the pressure.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and representatives from France and other European nations called on Syria to get out of Lebanon. Russia, a staunch Syrian ally, told Syria on Wednesday to leave Lebanon, signaling a lack of support for the country in the Security Council.

On Thursday, Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia told Mr. Assad to leave Lebanon quickly, emphasizing the lack of support for Syria in the Arab League.

"Sure, he says he's going to leave, but the way he does it and whether he will create problem is the most important thing," said Caline Chidiac, 30, an optometrist who has regularly attended opposition protests in Beirut. "We don't have solidarity yet so he is trying to create tension yet because people aren't sure about what is happening."

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom of Israel told Reuters that a gradual Syrian withdrawal would not be enough but that a complete pullout from Lebanon was "more tangible than ever." He also held out the possibility that a full pullout of troops could lead to peace between Lebanon and Israel.

Syria has had troops in Lebanon since 1976, when they entered as peacekeepers in the Lebanese civil war. But they have remained in the 15 years since the war ended, and have become a central element of power in Syria's control of Lebanese politics.

Syrian soldiers in many Lebanese mountain towns and in the Bekaa Valley on Saturday did not appear to be preparing for any movements, as many appeared to be going about their daily chores. The soldiers seemed to be taking many security measures to protect themselves from attack, including stepping up security details.

Hassan M. Fattah reported from Beirut for this article and David E. Sanger from Washington. Neil MacFarquhar contributed reporting from Beirut, and Katherine Zoepf from Damascus.

The New York Times > Washington > Rule Change Lets C.I.A. Freely Send Suspects Abroad to Jails

The New York Times > Washington > March 6, 2005
Rule Change Lets C.I.A. Freely Send Suspects Abroad to Jails
By DOUGLAS JEHL and DAVID JOHNSTON

WASHINGTON, March 5 - The Bush administration's secret program to transfer suspected terrorists to foreign countries for interrogation has been carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency under broad authority that has allowed it to act without case-by-case approval from the White House or the State or Justice Departments, according to current and former government officials.

The unusually expansive authority for the C.I.A. to operate independently was provided by the White House under a still-classified directive signed by President Bush within days of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the officials said.

The process, known as rendition, has been central in the government's efforts to disrupt terrorism, but has been bitterly criticized by human rights groups on grounds that the practice has violated the Bush administration's public pledge to provide safeguards against torture.

In providing a detailed description of the program, a senior United States official said that it had been aimed only at those suspected of knowing about terrorist operations, and emphasized that the C.I.A. had gone to great lengths to ensure that they were detained under humane conditions and not tortured.

The official would not discuss any legal directive under which the agency operated, but said that the "C.I.A. has existing authorities to lawfully conduct these operations."

The official declined to be named but agreed to discuss the program to rebut the assertions that the United States used the program to secretly send people to other countries for the purpose of torture. The transfers were portrayed as an alternative to what American officials have said is the costly, manpower-intensive process of housing them in the United States or in American-run facilities in other countries.

In recent weeks, several former detainees have described being subjected to coercive interrogation techniques and brutal treatment during months spent in detention under the program in Egypt and other countries. The official would not discuss specific cases, but did not dispute that there had been instances in which prisoners were mistreated. The official said none had died.

The official said the C.I.A.'s inspector general was reviewing the rendition program as one of at least a half-dozen inquiries within the agency of possible misconduct involving the detention, interrogation and rendition of suspected terrorists.

In public, the Bush administration has refused to confirm that the rendition program exists, saying only in response to questions about it that the United States did not hand over people to face torture. The official refused to say how many prisoners had been transferred as part of the program. But former government officials say that since the Sept. 11 attacks, the C.I.A. has flown 100 to 150 suspected terrorists from one foreign country to another, including to Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Pakistan.

Each of those countries has been identified by the State Department as habitually using torture in its prisons. But the official said that guidelines enforced within the C.I.A. require that no transfer take place before the receiving country provides assurances that the prisoner will be treated humanely, and that United States personnel are assigned to monitor compliance.

"We get assurances, we check on those assurances, and we double-check on these assurances to make sure that people are being handled properly in respect to human rights," the official said. The official said that compliance had been "very high" but added, "Nothing is 100 percent unless we're sitting there staring at them 24 hours a day."

It has long been known that the C.I.A. has held a small group of high-ranking leaders of Al Qaeda in secret sites overseas, and that the United States military continues to detain hundreds of suspected terrorists at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in Afghanistan. The rendition program was intended to augment those operations, according to former government officials, by allowing the United States to gain intelligence from the interrogations of the prisoners, most of whom were sent to their countries of birth or citizenship.

Before Sept. 11, the C.I.A. had been authorized by presidential directives to carry out renditions, but under much more restrictive rules. In most instances in the past, the transfers of individual prisoners required review and approval by interagency groups led by the White House, and were usually authorized to bring prisoners to the United States or to other countries to face criminal charges.

As part of its broad new latitude, current and former government officials say, the C.I.A. has been authorized to transfer prisoners to other countries solely for the purpose of detention and interrogation.

The covert transfers by the C.I.A. have faced sharp criticism, in part because of the accounts provided by former prisoners who say they were beaten, shackled, humiliated, subjected to electric shocks, and otherwise mistreated during their long detention in foreign prisons before being released without being charged. Those accounts include cases like the following:

Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian, who was detained at Kennedy Airport two weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks and transported to Syria, where he said he was subjected to beatings. A year later he was released without being charged with any crime.

Khaled el-Masri, a Lebanese-born German who was pulled from a bus on the Serbia-Macedonia border in December 2003 and flown to Afghanistan, where he said he was beaten and drugged. He was released five months later without being charged with a crime.

¶Mamdouh Habib, an Egyptian-born Australian who was arrested in Pakistan several weeks after the 2001 attacks. He was moved to Egypt, Afghanistan and finally Guantánamo. During his detention, Mr. Habib said he was beaten, humiliated and subjected to electric shocks. He was released after 40 months without being charged.

In the most explicit statement of the administration's policies, Alberto R. Gonzales, then the White House counsel, said in written Congressional testimony in January that "the policy of the United States is not to transfer individuals to countries where we believe they likely will be tortured, whether those individuals are being transferred from inside or outside the United States." Mr. Gonzales said then that he was "not aware of anyone in the executive branch authorizing any transfer of a detainee in violation of that policy."

Administration officials have said that approach is consistent with American obligations under the Convention Against Torture, the international agreement that bars signatories from engaging in extreme interrogation techniques. But in interviews, a half-dozen current and former government officials said they believed that, in practice, the administration's approach may have involved turning a blind eye to torture. One former senior government official who was assured that no one was being mistreated said that accumulation of abuse accounts was disturbing. "I really wonder what they were doing, and I am no longer sure what I believe," said the official, who was briefed periodically about the rendition program.

In Congressional testimony last month, the director of central intelligence, Porter J. Goss, acknowledged that the United States had only a limited capacity to enforce promises that detainees would be treated humanely. "We have a responsibility of trying to ensure that they are properly treated, and we try and do the best we can to guarantee that," Mr. Goss said of the prisoners that the United States had transferred to the custody of other countries. "But of course once they're out of our control, there's only so much we can do. But we do have an accountability program for those situations."

The practice of transporting a prisoner from one country to another, without formal extradition proceedings, has been used by the government for years. George J. Tenet, the former director of central intelligence, has testified that there were 70 cases before the Sept. 11 attacks, authorized by the White House. About 20 of those cases involved people brought to the United States to stand trial under informal arrangements with the country in which the suspects were captured.

Since Sept. 11, however, it has been used much more widely and has had more expansive guidelines, because of the broad authorizations that the White House has granted to the C.I.A. under legal opinions and a series of amendments to Presidential Decision Directives that remain classified. The officials said that most of the people subject to rendition were regarded by counterterrorism experts as less significant than people held under direct American control, including the estimated three dozen high ranking operatives of Al Qaeda who are confined at secret sites around the world.

The Pentagon has also transferred some prisoners to foreign custody, handing over 62 prisoners to Pakistan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, among other countries, from the American prison in Guantánamo Bay, in actions that it has publicly acknowledged. In some of those cases, a senior Defense Department official said in an interview on Friday, the transfers were for the purpose of prosecution and trials, but others were intended solely for the purpose of detention. Those four countries, as well Egypt, Jordan and Syria, were among those identified in a State Department human rights report released last week as practicing torture in their prisons.

In an interview, the senior official defended renditions as one among several important tools in counterterrorism efforts. "The intelligence obtained by those rendered, detained and interrogated have disrupted terrorist operations," the official said. "It has saved lives in the United States and abroad, and it has resulted in the capture of other terrorists."

China News : Wen says China will not tolerate Taiwan independence, ( Breaking News,Kerala news, India News,Us,UK,Kerala Shopping,Onam Special, Kerala

China News : China: Wen says China will not tolerate Taiwan independence
30 Hours,44 minutes Ago

[China News]: Beijing, Mar. 5 (ANI): Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said today that China will never allow Taiwan's independence, but stressed that an "anti-secession law" to be passed by parliament is aimed at peaceful reunification of the island.

Wen was speaking at the opening session of the ongoing National People's Congress NPC.


"This law represents the common will and strong determination of the entire Chinese people to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country and never allow secessionist forces working for Taiwan independence to separate Taiwan from China under any name or by any means," The News quoted Wen as saying.

"We will adhere to the basic principals of peaceful reunification and 'one country, two systems' ... to promote peaceful reunification of the motherland, safeguard peace in the Taiwan Straits and facilitate steady development of cross-Straits relations."
[China News]: Beijing, Mar. 5 (ANI): Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said today that China will never allow Taiwan's independence, but stressed that an 'anti-secession law' to be passed by parliament is aimed at peaceful reunification of the island.

Wen was speaking at the opening session of the ongoing National People's Congress NPC.


'This law represents the common will and strong determination of the entire Chinese people to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country and never allow secessionist forces working for Taiwan independence to separate Taiwan from China under any name or by any means,' The News quoted Wen as saying.

'We will adhere to the basic principals of peaceful reunification and 'one country, two systems' ... to promote peaceful reunification of the motherland, safeguard peace in the Taiwan Straits and facilitate steady development of cross-Straits relations.'"