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SHAPE NEWS MORNING UPDATE 30 AUGUST 2002

 

 

BALKANS

         NATO-led peacekeepers, UN police under fire by ethnic Albanians

         NATO warns Macedonia (sic)  against arresting ex-rebel leader turned politician

IRAQ

         Pressure grows on US and Iraq amid fear of strike

ICC

         Romania defends deal with U.S. on war crimes court

 

 

BALKANS
 

         Ethnic Albanian gunmen on Thursday fired on members of the NATO-led peacekeeping force protecting members of the Serb minority, prompting a two-hour firefight, officials said. The attack was one the worst cases of violence against peacekeepers since they arrived three years ago. The peacekeepers were called in after shots were fired at four Serbs working their land under the protection of UN and local police, said UN spokesman Andrea Angeli. As the Italian peacekeepers arrived at the scene in the village of Gorazdevac, some 90 kilometers (55 miles) west of Pristina. They and their vehicle also came under fire, said the officials, said Angeli. Two military helicopters helped fight off the attackers during the two-hour firefight that ended with one suspect being detained, said a NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity. The officials did not specify how many peacekeepers and UN police were involved, but said special forces were called in after the regular peacekeeping contingent responsible for the area asked for help.(AP 291758 Aug 02 GMT)

 

         Fearing unrest just weeks before general elections, NATO on Thursday urged Macedonia (sic)  not to arrest a former ethnic Albanian guerrilla leader turned politician. But the state prosecutor said he must be detained. The Interior Ministry announced Wednesday it had issued arrest warrants for three former rebel leaders, including Ali Ahmeti, a candidate in the Sept. 15 elections. In a letter to the government, NATO Ambassador Nicolaas Biegman reminded authorities of a recent pledge that "there will be no arrests for alleged war crimes for Ahmeti," or other officials of his party, the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration, before and during the elections. But State Prosecutor Stavre Dzikov said there would be no compromise. "I will not give in to any pressure, domestic or international," he said. "The arrest warrant must be complied with, and Ahmeti and others should be brought to justice." In the letter, made available to the AP, Biegman also said that NATO "expects continued cooperation with Interior Ministry to ensure free and fair elections, free from any provocation or intimidation."(AP 291437 Aug 02 GMT)

 

IRAQ

 

         Muslim and European states kept up pressure on Washington on Thursday to avert an attack on Iraq but U.S. Vice President Cheney brushed aside their concerns and hammered home the case for preemptive action.  Islamic countries said an attack, which Washington says is justified by President Hussein's development of weapons of mass destruction and links with terrorism, could unleash fresh turmoil by widening a gulf between Muslims and the West. Some analysts say U.S. allies in Europe, which have long expressed concerns over possible U.S. action, may now be turning to the United Nations to get political cover for eventually falling in behind an American war on Iraq.   French President Jacques Chirac warned strongly against a U.S. go-it-alone attack, but sources close to him said concerns that Baghdad might build weapons of mass destruction meant the UN Security Council might ultimately agree to use force.  Cheney, speaking to Korean War veterans in San Antonio, Texas, repeated charges from Monday that the Iraqi leader posed a "mortal danger" to the United States. "The elected leaders of the country have a responsibility to consider all available options and we are doing so," he said.(Reuters 2221 290802 Aug 02 GMT)

 

ICC

 

         Romania defended on Thursday its decision to clinch a deal with the United States to prevent Americans being turned over to the new war crimes court, rejecting charges that it was a ploy to win NATO membership.  Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana said Bucharest did not need to curry favor with Washington before NATO's summit in Prague this November, at which up to seven eastern European states are expected to be invited to join the U.S.-dominated alliance. "Romania has not done this in order to gain the favors of Washington for joining the alliance because, by and large, this is a done deal," he told Reuters in an interview. "I think we can anticipate a Prague summit with a broad (NATO) enlargement, from the Baltic to the Black Sea."   An EU diplomat said the European Commission's legal service had concluded that such bilateral agreements would violate the treaty.  But Geoana said Romania had a different view. "In terms of the legal dimension...our analysis was that by signing such an agreement Romania is not departing in any way from the letter and the spirit of the Rome statutes," he said.  He said it was very difficult to imagine a successful  international criminal court unless there was some working relationship between Washington and the tribunal, and Romania's decision was a recognition of "legitimate" U.S. concerns.(Reuters 2114 290802 Aug 02 GMT)

 

 

 

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