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Updated: 21-Jan-2004

SHAPE News Morning Update

21 January 2004

  • NATO quickens drive to expand Afghanistan operation


  • Thousands of Iraqis march to demand elections
  • UK Iraq “war crimes” dossier to be sent to the Hague


  • UN, U.S. and British experts begin disarming Libya


  • Military experts will press NATO envoys this week to quicken the drive for an expansion of the international peacekeeping operation in Afghanistan ahead of elections in June, an alliance official said on Tuesday in Brussels. Military and Afghanistan policy officials from Britain, Germany and the United States will on Wednesday brief ambassadors at NATO on the Provincial Reconstruction Teams their countries have already set up. “This is part of the campaign to convince allies of the value of PRTs and encourage them to get involved,” said the NATO official, who asked not to be named. “The briefing from the three countries will pool experience and help thinking at NATO before we approve a final operation plan in March,” said one NATO diplomat. (Reuters 201652 GMT Jan 04)


  • Thousands of Shi’ite Muslims hit the streets of four Iraqi cities on Tuesday, calling on the U.S. to hand over Saddam Hussein to be tried as a war criminal and demanding a bigger say in their political future. The fresh rallies followed a march through Baghdad on Monday by tens of thousands of people from the majority Shi’ite community demanding direct elections to decide who controls Iraq when the U.S. hands back power in June. In New York, diplomats said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was expected to decide within a week whether to send a political team to Iraq to tackle the Shi’ite calls for polls. Iraqis said they welcomed the prospect of the United Nations playing a role, but many insisted the process must include early elections. (Reuters 210245 GMT Jan 04)
  • British use of cluster bombs in the Iraq war could count as a war crime and justifies further investigation by the International Criminal Court prosecutor in the Hague, a group of international lawyers said on Tuesday. Seven academics from Britain, Ireland, France and Canada interviewed eyewitnesses and examined evidence to see if there was a case for referring British conduct to the court, said the pressure group Peacerights, which organised the review. “There is a considerable amount of evidence of disproportionate use of force causing civilian casualties,” one of the lawyers told a news conference in London. A spokesman for Britain’s Ministry of Defence said cluster munitions were lawful weapons that had been used in line with international law during the war. British forces had “of course” not been involved in war crimes, he added. Experts were dubious the case would proceed. (Reuters 202127 GMT Jan 04)


  • Inspectors from the UN nuclear watchdog joined U.S. and British weapons experts in Libya on Tuesday as they began the process of dismantling Tripoli’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons capabilities. IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said that the IAEA would verify that Libya’s atomic programme was properly dismantled, while the Americans and Britons would physically destroy the weapons capabilities. (Reuters 201528 GMT Jan 04)




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