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SHAPE NEWS MORNING UPDATE 07 FEBRUARY 2002

 

WAR ON TERROR

  • French frustration at President Bush’s world view burst into the open on Wednesday with a hard-hitting assault from Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine on Washington’s "simplistic" approach to the war on terrorism. "We are friends of the United States, we are friends of that people and we will remain so," Vedrine told France Inter radio. "But we are threatened today by a new simplism which consists in reducing everything to the war on terrorism..." "That is their approach, but we cannot accept that idea...You have got to tackle the root causes, the situations, poverty, injustice," Vedrine added. (…) He said the rhetoric coming out of Washington was confirmation that the Republican administration approached foreign policy "unilaterally, without consulting anyone." (Reuters 061110 GMT Feb 02)

 

AFGHANISTAN

  • The top UN envoy to Afghanistan, Brahimi, asked the 15-member Security Council in on Wednesday to consider urgently expanding foreign forces to help keep the peace in the devastated central Asian country. Lakhdar Brahimi said ordinary Afghans and even feuding warlords were demanding an expansion of the force, now restricted to the capital Kabul, to other parts of Afghanistan. (…) Council members, Brahimi said, reacted sympathetically to the request. But the problem remains finding troops, with the United States having ruled itself out. (Reuters 062158 GMT Feb 02)

NATO

  • NATO Secretary-General George Robertson praised Bulgaria’s military reforms on Wednesday and Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov added in Brussels that Sofia would step up efforts to win an invitation to join NATO this year. (…) "The recognition that Bulgaria is a substantial partner of NATO...and also of the good progress that has been made is obviously gratifying for us," President Parvanov told a joint news conference with Lord Robertson. "It is recognition that will motivate the politicians, the public at large and the leadership of the Bulgarian army for a furthering of reform," he added. (Reuters 061807 GMT Feb 02)

 

  • Defense hawks in Congress complained on Wednesday that President Bush’s proposed US $379 billion defense budget, containing the largest increase in two decades, should be even higher. The spending plan shortchanged the U.S. Navy by not providing enough money for new ships and actually cut funds for needed military construction projects, among other failings, members of the House Armed Services Committee told Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at a budget hearing in Washington. (Reuters 062343 GMT Feb 02)
  • Poland will purchase 48 new fighter jets for its armed forces but has not yet decided on which type, Polish Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski said on Wednesday. "We wish to buy 48 new aircraft, that is three full squadrons. We are looking at the Anglo-Swedish JAS Gripen, the American F-16 and the French Mirage 2000 equally well," Szmajdzinski said during a one-day visit to the Swedish capital, Stockholm. (AP 061544 Feb 02)

BALKANS

  • NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson expressed strong support on Wednesday for the arrest of three former rebels in Kosovo, whose detention on suspicion of war crimes has provoked three days of street protests. "Let there be no doubt: NATO and KFOR will not accept any intimidation from those who do not abide by the rule of law," Lord Robertson said in a statement. (…) In a separate statement triggered by the recent protests, the diplomatic missions of the United States, European Union, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Denmark in Kosovo voiced support for UN and NATO’s efforts "to uphold law and order" in the province. (AP 062041 Feb 02)

 

  • The hard-line interior minister of Macedonia (sic) ordered a crack police unit to pull out from a cluster of villages in the northwestern part of the country on Wednesday in a move to further stabilize the troubled Balkan nation. Ljube Boskoski replaced the much-feared unit, known as "The Lions", with regular police forces. The Lions, who were known for their brutality, had been deployed to the villages near the city of Tetovo eight months ago. (…) A spokesman for NATO praised the move. (AP 061725 Feb 02)

 

OTHER NEWS

Russia – Chemical arms : Russia and the United States have agreed in principle that Washington will soon unfreeze US $620 million in much-needed funds designed to help destroy Moscow’s huge arsenal of chemical weapons, a senior Russian official said on Wednesday. Sergei Kiriyenko, the chairman of the Russian state commission for chemical disarmament, said that he hoped a final deal on the money should be completed by the time U.S. President Bush visited Moscow this May. (Reuters 062224 GMT Feb 02)

 

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