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SHAPE NEWS MORNING UPDATE 15 NOVEBER 2002

 

 

WAR ON TERRORISM

         Al-Qaeda suspect says he targeted Belgian nuclear base

         Australia says new threat to Westerners in Jakarta

IRAQ

         UN inspector differs with President Bush on Iraq standard

         Blair rules out imposing exile government on Iraq

         U.S. 'prepared and concerned' about possible Iraq-sponsored terrorism

NATO

         U.S. said to back seven candidates for NATO entry

         China holds first talks with NATO on developing dialogue with Western alliance

BALKANS

         NATO to extend Macedonia (sic) role as EU force unready

         NATO peacekeepers ban federation helicopter flights pending investigation

AFGHANISTAN

         NATO to take on Afghanistan role for first time

 

 
WAR ON TERRORISM

 

         A Tunisian arrested in Belgium last year on suspicion of having links to the al-Qaeda network told a radio station on Thursday that he had planned to attack a Belgian air base thought to house U.S. nuclear bombs. RTBF public radio said Nizar Trabelsi was speaking by telephone from his jail cell. Asked by an RTBF reporter whether he was involved in a plot against the Kleine Brogel airbase, Trabelsi replied: "Yes, exactly." His remarks have since been carried widely by Belgian media. Trabelsi said he knew and admired al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. (Reuters 142351 GMT Nov 02)

 

         Australia said on Friday it had received information about a new threat to Westerners in Indonesia which prompted the closure of several big international schools in the capital Jakarta. "The information that we have got has been provided to Indonesian security authorities and school officials so that they may take appropriate action," a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman in Canberra said. (Reuters 150422 GMT Nov 02)

 

 
IRAQ

 

         A key UN weapons inspector said on Thursday that he would not run to the UN Security Council to report a minor, unintentional omission in Iraq's weapons of mass destruction disclosure, a stand putting him at odds with U.S. President Bush's "zero tolerance" policy. International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, who will lead the UN teams searching for any Iraqi nuclear weapons programs, set a less stringent standard for gauging whether Iraq complies with the UN resolution. (Reuters 142021 GMT Nov 02)

 

         British Prime Minister Tony Blair denied on Thursday that there were plans to impose on Iraq a government made up of President Saddam Hussein's exiled opponents. "I know there are rumours that are put around by the Iraqi regime that we are going to try and import some government from exile into Iraq," Blair told Radio Monte Carlo in an interview his aides say was directly aimed at an Iraqi audience. "We have no intention of doing that at all, that is simply not the case," he said. (Reuters 141933 GMT Nov 02)

 

         The United States is "prepared and concerned" about possible Iraq-sponsored terrorist attacks if President Bush orders a war to disarm Saddam Hussein, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said. He also said Thursday that the Iraqi leader could launch chemical or biological attacks on U.S. troops. "There is a danger that Saddam Hussein would do things he's done previously. He has in the past used chemical weapons," Rumsfeld said on a call-in show on Infinity Broadcasting and National Public Radio stations. He also rejected Saddam's claims that Iraq has no chemical, biological or nuclear weapons programs. "We know that Saddam Hussein has chemical and biological weapons, and we know he has an active program for development of nuclear weapons," Rumsfeld said. But Rumsfeld sidestepped a question on whether the United States would respond with nuclear weapons if Iraq were to use chemical or biological weapons. "The United States government, the president and others, are communicating with people in Iraq, in the military, very forcefully that they ought not to use those weapons," Rumsfeld said. "Anyone in any way connected with weapons of mass destruction and their use will be held accountable, and people who helped avoid that would be advantaged." (AP 150251 Nov 02)

 

NATO

 

         The United States at next week's NATO summit in Prague will support extending membership invitations to seven countries, which could take the Western alliance up to the Russian border, congressional sources said on Thursday in Washington. The seven are Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Slovakia, and the three Baltic nations along the Russian border, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The White House would not comment, but the sources said Washington would back the seven in Prague. (Reuters 150036 GMT Nov 02)

 

         China has opened tentative contacts with NATO for the first time aiming to open a "dialogue" with the Western military alliance, diplomats said Thursday in Brussels. NATO officials said a Chinese delegation recently made a first ever visit to alliance headquarters for talks with Secretary-General Robertson. NATO diplomats said the alliance was interested in developing contacts with the Chinese and both sides had agreed to continue talks. The alliance already has regular talks with Japan on security issues. (AP 141523 Nov 02)

 

BALKANS

 

         NATO is set to extend its military presence in Macedonia (sic) for another six months because the European Union will not be ready to replace it, a senior NATO official said on Thursday. He said the 19-nation U.S.-led alliance was poised to agree in the next couple of days to maintain a reduced force when the mandate of the 700-strong Task Force Fox expires on December 15. As recently as September, U.S. Defence Secretary Rumsfeld had opposed extending the NATO mandate for Macedonia (sic), but the NATO official said Washington signalled its agreement to the allies on Wednesday. "We are just on the verge of deciding that NATO should have a continued presence...for about six months'duration," the senior NATO official said. However, another NATO source said no duration for the new mandate had been agreed among the allies. (Reuters 141831 GMT Nov 02)

 

         NATO-led troops in Bosnia banned flights by helicopters from the Muslim-Croat federation after one hovered over an alliance base and took pictures, the peacekeepers said Thursday. The federation's defense ministry insisted, however, that they had allowed one of their helicopters to be used by a crew shooting a scene for a movie and that they intended no harm. "The commander of SFOR, Lt. Gen. William Ward, has no choice but to take immediate action pending the completion of a more thorough investigation," a spokesman  said. (AP 141509 Nov 02)

 

AFGHANISTAN

 

         Next week's NATO summit will give the western alliance a formal role in Afghanistan for the first time, providing backup for a multinational force keeping the peace in the capital Kabul. The summit is expected to authorize NATO to provide support for Germany and the Netherlands when they relieve Turkey in February as the lead nations of the 5,000-strong International Security Assistance Force that has patrolled Kabul since last year. The alliance's military headquarters in southern Belgium will organize the formation of the Kabul force and help with planning, transport and intelligence, said senior NATO diplomats. Diplomats said there were no plans to extend the force's role beyond Kabul. (AP 141620 Nov 02)

 

 

 

 

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