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Updated: 10-May-2004

SHAPE News Morning Update

10 May 2004

  • NATO chief stresses proposal for closer ties with Middle East, says NATO not imposing
  • NATO officials arrive in Mauritania for terror talks


  • U.N. vehicle destroyed, driver hurt, by explosion in eastern Afghanistan
  • Senior Taliban commander arrested in Afghan south


  • UN in Kosovo say Amnesty's sex report out of date


  • NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said Friday that a proposal to forge closer ties with North Africa and the Middle East in areas such as fighting terrorism and fundamentalism wasn't an attempt to impose ideas on the region. "Ambassador Minuto Rizzo is not going to consult in the region and say 'This is what we want.' He's going to the region to say 'We have some ideas. Let's compare them and let's see if NATO can provide the added value."' Diplomats have suggested that NATO's role could include helping modernize armed forces, encouraging greater accountability and civilian control over the military, cooperation on border controls and counterterrorism. "We are in favor of launching at Istanbul a new joint cooperation initiative open to all governments in the greater Middle East interested in a security partnership against the common threat of fundamentalism," Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said. (AP 071523 May 04)

  • As part of efforts to forge closer ties with African nations in the war on terror, NATO officials arrived in Mauritania on Sunday for talks with military leaders. The officials held meetings with Mauritanian navy officers regarding training, intelligence sharing, and securing this desert nation's maritime borders, said Mauritanian Lt. Col. Cheikh Ould Ahmedou. NATO has been working on plans to improve its military and political ties with nations in North Africa and the Middle East as part of a drive to refocus the alliance on new threats from terrorism and regional instability. International security experts allege al-Qaida cells and other Islamic militants are present in the country. (AP 091838 May 04)


  • An explosion set a UN vehicle on fire in eastern Afghanistan, injuring its Afghan driver, and three suspected militants were killed when a mine exploded prematurely, officials said Sunday. But the world body said it was pressing on with preparations for the September vote, seen as key to bringing democracy to Afghanistan after a quarter century of war. "We suspect Taliban or al-Qaida were behind this incident," Gen. Mohammed Yunus Noorzai, the Nangahar police chief, told AP, but offered no information to back up his assertion. UN spokesman said that incident had led to a delay in registration plans for Nuristan, but no change in the plans elsewhere. "The plans for voter registration and the activities continue as scheduled," he said. (AP 090830 May 04)

  • A senior Taliban commander has been arrested in a joint raid by U.S. and Afghan forces in a troubled province in southern Afghanistan, an official said on Sunday. Mullah Roozi Khan, Taliban's high-ranking commander for Zabul province, was arrested in a military operation that involved several hundred U.S. and Afghan troops backed by U.S. helicopter gunships, said Zabul's governor Kheyal Mohammad Husseini. He said more than 30 armed Taliban have also been arrested in the operation that started on Friday in several districts of the province near the border with Pakistan. The U.S. military was not immediately available for comment in Kabul and no Taliban official could be reached. (Reuters 091246 GMT May 04)


  • The UN on Friday rejected an Amnesty International report accusing NATO troops and UN police in Kosovo of fuelling sex trafficking, calling it "highly unbalanced." The UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) said the report by the human rights group drew heavily on conditions in the province between 1999 and 2001 and did not reflect the current situation. "Outdated information from that period is extrapolated on and presented as current, giving the impression that problems, which existed in 2001, remain at the same level in 2004," the UN said in a statement. Amnesty said there had been an "unprecedented escalation" of the sex trade involving trafficked women since then. "It is outrageous that the very same people who are there to protect these women and girls are using their position and exploiting them instead - and they are getting away with it," Amnesty said in a statement on Thursday. The statement insisted UNMIK "takes immediate and stringent disciplinary measures against any of its staff who are found in establishments in which prostitution is suspected and which are declared 'Off-limits.' (Reuters 071255 GMT May 2004)


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