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SHAPE NEWS MORNING UPDATE 07 OCTOBER 2002

 

 

WAR ON TERRORISM

         Al-Jazeera TV plays new tape said to be from bin Laden

         Tanker blast amid terror fears in Yemen

AFGHANISTAN

         Bin laden fate unclear, but Karzai says Omar alive

         Afghan government hails U.S.-led war as liberation

IRAQ

         President Bush says Iraq strike may be unavoidable

         Blair told that war for Iraq regime change is illegal says report

         Divided over Iraq, EU defence ministers lie low

         Iraq's Sabri in UAE to lobby Gulf against U.S. strike

NATO

         German defense minister reviews procurement projects amid budget squeeze

BALKANS

         Hardliners punish moderates in Bosnia vote

         EU warns of flagging U.S. interest in Balkans

         Macedonian (sic) police detain former rebel

OTHER NEWS

         Latvia centre-right wins poll, eyes on NATO and EU

         Syria's Lebanon intelligence head replaced

 

 

WAR ON TERRORISM

 

         Qatar's al-Jazeera television broadcast on Sunday what it said was the voice of Osama bin Laden threatening more attacks on the United States. Jazeera said it was not clear when the audio recording was taped and said it had aired it because "it sounded like" bin Laden. It said the tape was dropped off at one of its offices but did not say where or by whom. The former head of Saudi Arabia's intelligence service, in an interview published on Sunday based on his own information, said bin Laden was alive and preparing for a surprise comeback. (Reuters 062336 GMT Oct 02)

 

         The French-flagged supertanker Limburg burned in the Gulf of Aden early on Monday as Yemeni and French experts prepared to investigate an explosion the owners fear was caused by a terror attack. The Yemeni government has ruled out an attack similar to the October 2000 suicide assault on the U.S. destroyer USS Cole. But a director of the ship's owners, Euronav SA, said he thought terrorists using a boat could have been responsible for Sunday's blast. "In my opinion, this was a terrorist attack," Euronav director Jacques Moizan said on Sunday. "The crew saw a high-speed vessel approaching on the starboard side...an explosion followed with fire." Last month, the U.S. navy warned of possible attacks on oil tankers in Gulf waters by al Qaeda. (Reuters 062306 GMT Oct 02)

   

AFGHANISTAN

 

         While the fate of Osama bin Laden remains unclear, Mullah Omar of the vanquished Taliban was definitely alive and escaped several attempts to capture him in Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday. "Mullah Omar is alive and we know of that. And we have come close to arresting him several times, but he's been able to escape," Afghan President Hamid Karzai said from Kabul in an interview on CNN's "Late Edition." U.S. intelligence agencies also believe Omar is alive and hiding out in southern Afghanistan, according to an official. (Reuters 061942 GMT Oct 02)

 

         On the eve of the anniversary of U.S. air strikes starting, Afghanistan's interim government on Sunday hailed the military campaign as a liberation that had brought hope and opportunity to the war-torn country. Foreign Minister Dr Abdullah Abdullah told a news conference that the military campaign had supported the "liberation" of Afghanistan and was seen as such by most Afghans, even though they had a long reputation for antipathy to foreign interference. (Reuters 061627 GMT Oct 02)

 

IRAQ

 

         U.S. President Bush, warning that war with Iraq may be unavoidable, said on Saturday in a weekly radio address that there was no room for negotiations as Baghdad kept up a diplomatic drive for backing among front-line Gulf states. "There's no negotiations; there's nothing to talk about. We don't want you to have weapons of mass destruction," Bush said in a speech previewing a planned prime-time television address next Tuesday to tell Americans why Washington should be prepared to take military action. (Reuters 051951 GMT Oct 02)

 

         Two of Britain's most senior legal figures have warned Prime Minister Tony Blair that military action against Iraq to force a regime change would breach international law, the Financial Times said on Monday. The newspaper said Attorney General Lord Peter Goldsmith and Solicitor General Harriet Harman had given Blair confidential advice that international law would allow military action in "limited circumstances" to support UN resolutions. "But it rules out war to achieve regime change," it said. The legal advice puts Britain in a potentially difficult situation if it does end up supporting the United States alone in a military attack on Iraq, the paper added. Officials at Blair's Downing Street Office could not confirm the legal advice and said they had no comment on the report. The Financial Times did not say when the advice was given, nor did it give its sources for the information. (Reuters 062348 GMT Oct 02)

 

         European Union defence ministers skirted the question of how to deal with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Saturday, underlining the bloc's struggle to agree on a common approach. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana insisted that the 15 nations did have a policy, which amounted to stopping any proliferation of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and leaving it up to the UN Security Council to find a solution. But British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon told reporters that he did not believe European policy on Iraq was particularly "evolved." Diplomats said a majority of EU foreign ministers meeting on Monday supported France's two-stage approach of first sending weapons inspectors back to Iraq with a strong mandate and having them report back to the Security Council if Iraq did not comply. During the meeting of defence ministers in Greece, however, Solana did not specify whether the EU favoured the French approach. German Defence Minister Peter Struck reiterated his government's flat rejection of any military action against Iraq as he arrived for the meeting on Friday. (Reuters 051617 GMT Oct 02)

 

         Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, the latest stop in a tour of the strategic Gulf Arab region aimed at staving off a possible U.S. military strike. UAE officials said Sabri, who has already visited Oman and Bahrain, was carrying a message from Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and would meet Sheikh Zaid bin Sultan al-Nahayan, the president of this pro-Western federation, on Monday. (Reuters 061613 GMT Oct 02)

 

NATO

 

         German orders for military equipment may be scaled down amid efforts to keep a lid on government spending and the budget deficit, the country's defense minister said in an interview published on Saturday. "I am going to have procurement plans for the armed forces scrutinized again," Peter Struck told the daily Passauer Neue Presse. "There will be adjustments here. In some defense projects, the planned quantities may be reduced." Struck stressed that "all systems are being considered." He added that any changes in equipment orders "would have to be carried out in agreement with the other European partners involved." He did not elaborate. (AP 051540 Oct 02)

 

BALKANS

 

         Nationalist parties looked poised to stage a comeback in Bosnia after preliminary election results showed a surprise surge for hardline Muslims and a trouncing for the main moderate party. The election commission cautioned on Sunday that not all constituencies had been counted. The multi-ethnic Social Democrats (SDP), which had been Bosnia's biggest party and the driving force behind the moderate ruling bloc, saw its vote tumble in favour of the purely Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA). The SDA polled 32.5 percent of votes compared to 14 percent for the SDP, the commission said. (Reuters 062344 GMT Oct 02)

 

         The European Union said on Saturday it feared the United States was losing interest in peacekeeping operations in the Balkans and suggested Europe should be ready to fill security gaps in the volatile region. Greek Defence Minister Yannos Papantoniou, whose country currently chairs the EU's security and defence policy, said that U.S. enthusiasm for such missions appears to be flagging. But a NATO diplomat scoffed at the comment, branding it wishful thinking by a bloc desperate to establish a dominant role in crisis management operations on its own doorstep. "In recent drawdowns the U.S. has not pulled out a significantly larger share than others," said a NATO diplomat. "There's a little bit of wishful thinking here by the Europeans. The EU has got its eyes on Bosnia: on one level the Americans do want to get out but on the other hand the Europeans are thrashing round for an easy mission to prove themselves." French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie told reporters that there has already been a U.S. disengagement of sorts from the Balkans because most of its troops there are reservists. (Reuters 051509 GMT Oct 02)

 

         Macedonian (sic) police said on Sunday they had detained a former rebel, Sadulla Duraku, on charges of committing war crimes during last year's conflict, despite an amnesty law adopted by parliament as part of a peace deal. In a statement on Sunday, the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) said Duraku's detention had "no legal grounds, but rather a political background" and urged his release. A Western diplomat said that Duraku's arrest was "a pure provocation by the lame duck government." He said he did not believe the case would ignite violence that could destabilize the fragile peace in the country. (Reuters 061848 GMT Oct 02)

 

OTHER NEWS

 

         Latvia's centre-right parties won a comfortable general election victory on Sunday and immediately began jostling for position in a new coalition to lead the ex-Soviet state into NATO and the European Union. Former central banker Einars Repse's liberal New Era party received 23.9 percent of the vote, according to full provisional results. (Reuters 061234 GMT Oct 02)

 

         The head of Syrian military intelligence in Lebanon, a symbol of Damascus's political and military grip on its smaller neighbour, has been removed from his position, Lebanese sources said on Sunday in Beirut. There was no immediate indication of the reason for the removal of General Ghazi Kenaan. (Reuters 062022 GMT Oct 02)

 

 

 

 

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