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Updated: 26-Jul-2004

SHAPE News Morning Update

26 July 2004

  • NATO agrees on deployment of extra troops to help secure Afghan elections


  • Two Serbs said "ready to surrender" to Hague
  • NATO peacekeepers seize Mladic's wartime secretary


  • NATO leaves door open for US troops on Greek soil


  • Morocco lost track of 400 al Qaeda suspects
  • EU joins U.S. in raising threat of sanctions against Sudan over Darfur violence


  • After months of delay, NATO approved sending two extra battalions to Afghanistan to help provide security during presidential elections scheduled for October. Troops from Spain and Italy will arrive in Afghanistan by September and remain for about two months, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said in a statement. The election is planned for Oct. 9. The decision, made late Friday by ambassadors at NATO headquarters, appeared to fall short by about a third of promises made by alliance leaders in June for an additional 3,500 troops. Cdr. Chris Henderson, a spokesman for the NATO-led peacekeeping force in the Afghan capital of Kabul, said another battalion would be on standby as part of a reserve contingent outside the country. A battalion has between 600 and 1,000 soldiers. "NATO has not failed in meeting its commitment," he insisted. But he conceded it was not yet decided which countries would supply the outside reserve force. Officials at NATO headquarters also could not say who would provide the roughly 500 additional troops to beef up five so-called provincial reconstruction teams, which are designed to help the central government extend its authority across the country. "It's not really clear exactly," said Lt. Col. Ludger Terbrueggen, spokesman at NATO's military headquarters in southern Belgium. But, he said, "we need a little bit more to get to 3,500." (AP 241040 Jul 04)


  • Two Belgrade newspapers reported at the weekend that two Serbs wanted by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague were ready to give themselves up, a move that would relieve some of the international pressure on the country. The daily Kurir on Saturday said former Croatian Serb leader Goran Hadzic, who vanished as soon as his indictment was handed over to Serbia on July 13, was not on the run but simply getting his affairs in order prior to turning himself in. On Sunday, the tabloid Nacional followed up with a report that Sreten Lukic, one of four Serb generals indicted last year for alleged crimes in Kosovo, was preparing to surrender to the tribunal in early August. A third newspaper said it had indications "from government sources" that the case of top fugitive Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb Army commander wanted for genocide, would be resolved one way or another by the end of next month. "Regarding Mladic, he'll either be arrested in the next month or the state will have to provide valid proof that he's not on the territory of Serbia and Montenegro," the source said. (Reuters 251437 GMT Jul 04)

  • NATO peacekeepers in Bosnia on Friday detained the former secretary of war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic, A statement said Rajko Banduka was arrested on suspicion of "activities contrary to the Dayton agreement", the accord that ended the war and ordered all parties to ensure those who committed atrocities were brought to justice. Banduka was detained in the northeastern town of Bijeljina and he was taken to a secure detention facility for investigation. (Reuters 231157 GMT Jul 04)


  • U.S. forces on standby in case of terrorist attacks during the Olympics may be based in Greece despite the host's public insistence that no foreign troops will be deployed on its soil, NATO diplomats said on Friday. NATO agreed on Thursday to take command of some 400 U.S. special forces personnel during the August 13-29 games. Greece already has assurances that NATO will assist in air and sea patrols and provide specialist troops to deal with a potential nuclear, chemical or biological attack. But Washington also wanted to send U.S. counter-terrorism forces for the games. When it became clear this would not be possible due to Greek sensitivities, it pressed Athens to ask for them, as one official put it, "under NATO cover." "The (NATO) decision sheet doesn't say whether the troops will be in Greece or nearby... and so logically you could say that maybe some of them will be there on Greek soil." Washington's NATO ambassador, Nicholas Burns, sought on Thursday to dispel the notion that Athens had come under U.S. pressure to seek counter-terrorism forces, telling reporters: "NATO is responding to a specific request from Greece." (Reuters 231723 Jul GMT 04)


  • Morocco has warned Spain that it has lost track of 400 Moroccan Islamist militants who trained in al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, Bosnia or Chechnya, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported on Sunday. Moroccan authorities gave the warning to Judge Baltasar Garzon, Spain's leading al Qaeda expert, in Rabat earlier this month, El Pais said, citing a person who was present at the meeting. Spanish Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso, asked about the report, neither confirmed nor denied it but said Spain and Morocco were cooperating closely in the fight against al Qaeda and there was a constant flow of information between them. Authorities in Rabat told Garzon they knew of 600 Moroccan nationals who had trained at al Qaeda camps but only knew the whereabouts of 200 of them, El Pais said (Reuters 251345 GMT July 04)

  • The EU joined the United States in threatening sanctions against Sudan, hoping to pressure the African country's government to end the conflict in its western region of Darfur. Citing "grave concern" at reports of "massive human rights violations" that some have called genocide, EU ministers gathering for a Monday meeting in Brussels were hoping to push Sudan's government and rebel groups to resume peace talks as well as improve access for relief groups. "It's almost certain the international community will take further measures if this situation does not improve," Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, said late Saturday after meeting his Sudanese counterpart, Mustafa Osman Ismail. The 25-nation EU, the U.S. and humanitarian groups have accused the Sudanese government of backing the militias, a claim it denies. The UN plans to send a peacekeeping mission by the end of 2004 to Darfur, a region the size of Iraq with a population of 6.7 million. (AP 260042 Jul 04)


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