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SHAPE NEWS MORNING UPDATE 20 SEPTEMBER  2002

 

 

WAR ON TERRORISM

         NATO defense ministers to discuss the Alliance's reform, war against terrorism

         One year later, EU still unable to find common rules for airport security

         Security chief says Moscow will use force to "neutralize" terrorist in Georgia

AFGHANISTAN

         Eurocorps could lead Afghan force says German Defence minister

IRAQ

         Saddam says Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction

         Future of UN Security Council in doubt if it fails to unite on Iraq

         President Bush says he wants congressional approval to act quickly on Iraq

         Turkish PM wants Iraq solution without war

         Iraq move forces to civilian areas; maybe precaution against surprise US attack

         President Havel says US should not act alone

NATO

         Defence minister of Portugal criticised but he won't quit

         British military sets up camp in exercise simulating austere conditions

EU

         Danes plan extra meeting to present final expansion plans to EU candidates

BALKANS

         UN war crimes court indicts Croatia's wartime army's chief

         Serbs to protest near Kosovo, government appeals for help from UN

         Top Bosnian Serb trial seen postponed says prosecutor

         Two more Serbs to face domestic warcrimes trial

 

WAR ON TERRORISM

 

         NATO defense ministers will discuss plans for reforming the Alliance's military and command capabilities and its role in the war against international terrorism during an informal meeting next week, Polish officials said Thursday in Warsaw. During the two-day meeting that begins Tuesday, NATO allies are to hear proposals from U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld for a new allied force capable of deploying troops around the globe at short notice to counter terrorist threats. "This will be a discussion about defining a future role of the Alliance in the world and defining next steps in fighting international terrorism,"  Poland's Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski told a news conference. (AP 191729 Sep 02)

 

         Despite the urgency generated by the Sept. 11 attacks last year, the European Union failed again Thursday to agree on new joint security measures in airports and on airplanes because of disputes over funding, officials said. The 15 member states and the EU parliament continued to disagree to what extent public or private funds should be used to pay for the measures. (AP 191433 Sep 02)

 

         Moscow will use force to "neutralize" terrorists hiding in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, the head of Russia's Federal Security Service, said Thursday. Nikolai Patrushev made the comments before the opening of the summit of security chiefs from the Commonwealth of Independent States - countries that used to be part of the former Soviet Union. The summit was being held in the Palace of the Republic in Chisinau, the Moldovan capital. (AP 191342 Sep 02)

 

AFGHANISTAN
 

         German Defence Minister Peter Struck said on Thursday that the five-nation Eurocorps could take over the command of the international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan after Turkey's leadership ends in December. "In principle, the Eurocorps would be able to do that. But I must also talk with the other defence ministers about that. My Belgian colleague has signaled that he could conceive of it." Media reports suggested Germany would need to increase its presence from the current 1,250 peacekeepers to free up British and Turkish troops for possible action in Iraq. (Reuters 191755 GMT Sep 02)

 

IRAQ

 

         Saddam Hussein declared that Iraq is free of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and invited any country to see for itself that the United States has been lying about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction as a pretext to wage war. The Iraqi president - in a letter read to the United Nations on Thursday - accused U.S. President Bush of portraying the weapons issue as the greatest danger to the future of the world and insinuating that Iraq was linked to the Sept. 11 attacks to incite Americans "to accept the U.S. administration's schemes of aggression as a fait accompli." Delegates applauded loudly after the speech, read by Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri. Sabri unusually delivered in English rather than Arabic. Sabri announced that inspectors could return without conditions after nearly four years. Hans Blix, the UN chief weapons inspector, is to hold talks with Iraqi officials on Sept. 30 in Vienna. If all goes well at the talks, he could have an advance team on the ground by Oct. 15, and some early inspections could be conducted soon afterward, Blix told reporters after briefing the Security Council on Thursday. (AP 200105 Sep 02)

 

         The future of the UN Security Council is in doubt if it fails to agree on a resolution to deal with Iraq and the United States takes solitary action, a former chief UN arms inspector said Thursday in Sydney. Richard Butler said Russian President Putin was in a position to make or break the Security Council with his country's vote on whether to back a new UN resolution on Iraq now being drafted by the United States and Britain. If Security Council members fail to agree on a resolution against Iraq "the council's credibility as an institution will be basically trashed, and I don't know if it will recover," he added. Butler said if Russia vetoes the resolutions, lone U.S. military action against Iraq would be "inevitable." (AP 191335 Sep 02)

 

         President Bush, preparing to send Congress a proposed resolution on Iraq, said Thursday that lawmakers must give him authority to use military force against Saddam Hussein. "The United Nations Security Council must work with the United States and other concerned parties to send a clear message that we expect Saddam to disarm," Bush said. "And if the United Nations Security Council won't deal with the problem, the United States and some of our friends will." (AP 191421 Sep 02)

 

         Turkish Prime Minister Ecevit said on Thursday he was concerned any U.S. military action to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein would damage Turkey's interests in the region and war should be avoided. "If there is military action against Iraq, even if Turkey does not want to join that action, when it happens Turkey will be affected by that action," Ecevit said in a live interview with CNN Turk television. (Reuters 191212 GMT Sep 02)

 

         Iraq has moved small numbers of military forces into civilian areas in what some Pentagon officials interpret as a precaution against a possible surprise American aerial attack, officials said Thursday. The officials, who discussed the matter on condition of anonymity, said it appeared Iraq believed these forces would be spared in a short-notice U.S. attack because of the high risk of civilian casualties. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said it indicated Iraq hoped to attract U.S. attacks on civilian buildings such as hospitals and schools in order to fan the flames of anti-Americanism. "They're just masters at manipulating the press and putting out disinformation," Rumsfeld told PBS television's "News Hour with Jim Lehrer." (AP 191845 Sep 02)

 

         Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel said Thursday action should be taken against Iraq if it fails repeatedly to meet UN Security Council disarmament demands. He said "it would not be desirable" if the United States acted alone. "Probably an international coalition should be formed and will be formed," Havel said, interviewed by the AP Television Network. "I believe that NATO would be an important pillar within this coalition, including the Czech Republic." (AP 192010 Sep 02)

 

NATO

 

         Portugal's defence minister, a key figure in the centre-right government, has refused to resign in the face of opposition criticism over a court case involving misuse of funds. "You can be sure that I support the government and I will continue to stand up for what I believe in," Paulo Portas said in an interview on private TVI television. The minister suggested that he was under attack because he had cancelled a number of military contracts, which include a 34 million euro agreement to buy helicopters. (Reuters 191137 GMT Sep 02)

 

         Royal Air Force and British Army personnel set up a military base in southern England on Thursday, as part of an exercise (Cornish Talon) designed to train them for the austere conditions they might meet in countries such as Iraq, officials said. Soldiers at the base would have to deal with various simulated incidents during the exercise, including air attacks, an evacuation and a refugee crisis. (AP 191438 Sep 02)

 

 

 

EU

 

         Denmark, which holds the EU's presidency, will invite leaders from 10 candidate countries to an extra meeting in October to brief them on final expansion plans for the bloc, a government official said Thursday in Copenhagen. "We are working on organizing a meeting to brief the candidate countries about the outcome of the meeting in Brussels," said an official with the prime minister's office, who declined to be named. (AP 191147 Sep 02)

 

BALKANS

 

         Croatia's wartime army chief of staff, Gen. Janko Bobetko, has been indicted by the UN war crimes court, Prime Minister Ivica Racan said Thursday. Racan told parliament that the court in The Hague, Netherlands, had requested Croatian authorities to question Bobetko, 83, "in his capacity as an indictee." The government was to receive the indictment later in the day and could not immediately detail the charges against Bobetko. Croatian media have speculated about the indictment against Bobetko for weeks, saying he is accused of responsibility in the 1993 killing of dozens of Serbs in the central Croatian area known as the Medak Pocket. (AP 191533 Sep 02)

 

         Serbia's government urged the UN mission in Kosovo on Thursday to help thousands of displaced Serbs return to their homes in the mostly ethnic Albanian province. About 40,000 Serb refugees have threatened to hold mass protests on along Kosovo's boundary and try to return to their homes after three years of exile. Responding to their plight, Serbian deputy prime minister Nebojsa Covic sent an open letter to the chief of the UN mission in Kosovo, Michael Steiner, urging a meeting to try to solve the crisis "before we are no longer able to control the situation." In comments published Thursday in the Belgrade daily Blic, Steiner said that organizing such a return "would be an exploitation of the displaced persons. It is not fair to tell them they can go back ... if there is no security." (AP 191649 Sep 02)

 

         UN chief war crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte said on Thursday she expected the trial of two of Radovan Karadzic's closest allies, Former Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic and Momcilo Krajisnik, to be postponed until next year. Del Ponte also hoped the fugitive wartime Bosnian Serb leader could himself still be caught. "I hope he will be arrested after seven years as a fugitive. I'm still pressuring the international community, especially NATO," she added. (Reuters 191734 GMT Sep 02)

 

         Two former Serb policemen charged with committing atrocities against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo will face Serbia's second domestic war crimes trial next month, a judge said on Thursday in Prokuplje.  Sasa Cvjetan and Dejan Demirovic are accused of killing 19 ethnic Albanian civilians in the northern Kosovo town of Podujevo in March 1999. The case is likely to be welcomed in the West as a fresh step by the Balkan state towards facing its bloodstained past. (Reuters 191524 GMT Sep 02)

 

 

 

 

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