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Voice of America, 00-02-25

Voice of America: Selected Articles Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Voice of America <gopher://>





    INTRO: NATO allies have delayed any decision to increase the number of troops in Kosovo. There already are about 40 thousand NATO peacekeepers stationed in Kosovo. NATO ambassadors met (Friday) to discuss the situation in the divided city of Mitrovica where ethnic Albanians and Serbs have been sparring since NATO pushed Yugoslav troops out of the province last June. Correspondent Laurie Kassman reports from London.

    TEXT: The NATO ambassadors have agreed an increase in NATO peacekeeping troops in Kosovo is not urgently needed. Four allies had offered to send in more troops to help prevent a resurgence of violence in Mitrovica. At least ten people were killed and more than 20 others wounded in clashes between the city's ethnic Albanian and Serb communities earlier in the month. NATO Secretary General George Robertson told the special meeting in Brussels that NATO troops have brought the situation in Mitrovica under control. But NATO's Supreme Commander in Europe General Wesley Clark has requested at least two thousand more troops to help deal with Kosovo's ethnic violence. Britain's Defense Minister Geoffrey Hoon has suggested that NATO allies already stationed in Kosovo should be more flexible in deploying their troops to trouble spots.

    ///HOON ACT///

    There are some 45 thousand international troops in and around Kosovo. It is important that they be used in a flexible way.

    ///END ACT///

    Still, Britain, along with Spain, Italy and France, have offered to send in more troops if needed. For now at least, NATO has put that decision on hold. (SIGNED) NEB/LMK/GE/ENE/PT 25-Feb-2000 12:53 PM EDT (25-Feb-2000 1753 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The International Committee of the Red Cross says nearly three-thousand people remain missing and unaccounted for in Kosovo. Lisa Schlein in Geneva reports this is the first time the Red Cross has issued precise figures on the number of people who disappeared during the war in Kosovo.

    TEXT: The Red Cross says it has received the names of nearly 45-hundred missing persons in Kosovo from family members. Of these, it says more than 13- hundred were found alive, most of them in prisons in Serbia and Montenegro. Another 110 are confirmed dead. The head of the Red Cross Task force for the Balkans, Pierre Kraehenbuehl, says it is a big relief for families when they finally learn what has happened to their missing loved ones.


    One cannot underline sufficiently and stress sufficiently how traumatizing the uncertainty about the fate and whereabouts of a close relative can be. We have learned how destabilizing an issue missing persons can also be in a post-war environment. It is obvious that so many individual cases of disappearance remain unsolved impacts negatively on dialogue between communities and the possibility for reconciliation.

    /// END ACT ///

    The Red Cross says the vast majority of those who disappeared during the Kosovo conflict are ethnic Albanians. But about 400 Serbs as well as gypsies and other ethnic groups are included among the missing. Mr. Kraehenbuehl says a number of agencies are in the process of exhuming and identifying bodies in Kosovo. He says he expects these exhumations will lead to further clarifications and in some cases confirmations of deaths. But, he says, he does not know if Serbian authorities are secretly detaining some of the missing people.


    The question of whether we think that we have seen all those in detention today is very much open. We feel that we have had a thorough look at persons now in detention throughout Serbia and Montenegro. But, of course we do not exclude, it is not possible to exclude, that some other persons would still be in detention that we have not seen to date.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Kraehenbuehl says most of the names of the missing were gathered from Kosovo Albanians who reported their family members had been arrested. But, he says, the Red Cross also has gathered information from hundreds of families of Serbian, gypsy and other communities. They reported their relatives had been abducted by the Kosovo Liberation Army, the K-L-A. He says the Red Cross has received no answers from the K-L-A as to what happened to the missing. (Signed) NEB/LS/JWH/LTD/KL/Eurasia/Europe 25-Feb-2000 09:31 AM EDT (25-Feb-2000 1431 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Talks between the European Union and Beijing on China's accession to the World Trade Organization faltered this week. But as Amy Bickers reports from Hong Kong, the European Union remains hopeful that an agreement will soon be reached.

    TEXT: Top negotiators from the European Union left Beijing Friday, after four days of talks with their Chinese counterparts on Beijing's long-desired goal to join the W-T-O. While no deal was struck, another round of negotiations is expected. The E-U says significant progress was made this week, but warns that major disagreements persist. Victor Monfort of the European Union's Hong Kong office says stumbling blocks remain, but refused to go into detail.

    /// MONFORT ACT ///

    We have always been very supportive of China's W-T-O accession. That has been a consistent point in our policy. So far nothing has changed there. Obviously that accession has to be done on terms that are acceptable to all parties. Our position is respect of China's accession has not changed and we are extremely supportive.

    /// END ACT ///

    A key issue is said to include a European demand for greater access to the telecommunications market. Insurance is another contentious subject. While Chinese trade officials say the two sides are very close to a deal, Mr. Monfort says they have yet to make a breakthrough.

    /// MONFORT ACT ///

    The positions have narrowed and the gap is narrower but we will need further discussions. No date has been fixed so far nor a venue for talks.

    /// END ACT ///

    Both sides had hoped that the talks would lead to a deal similar to the one struck last year between Washington and Beijing. In that accord, Washington pledged to support China's W-T-O membership and Beijing agreed to open various industries to foreign business interests. Before China can join the trade body, it must reach separate market access agreements with all of the W-T- O's 135 members. The E-U is among 13 yet to conclude negotiations. The talks with the E-U took place against a backdrop of growing opposition to China among some U-S lawmakers. Earlier this week Beijing threatened to use military force to achieve reunification with Taiwan, angering many in Washington who say reunification must be a peaceful process. The political tension is casting a shadow over the upcoming Congressional vote on the U- S/China trade accord. So while China must win over Brussels, it is also faced with growing concerns among American lawmakers. (SIGNED)
    NEB/AB/FC/PLM 25-Feb-2000 05:46 AM EDT (25-Feb-2000 1046 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Britain's defense ministry is on the defensive about the capabilities of some of its top weapons. The latest problem involves a British-made rifle used by Britain and NATO forces. Thousands of the rifles are being recalled because they failed to work in extreme heat or cold. Correspondent Laurie Kassman reports from London on the latest in a series of embarrassing disclosures.

    TEXT: The S-A 80 rifle is Britain's standard army rifle. About 300 thousand have been issued. The problem is they can jam in extreme heat or extreme cold. Soldiers first complained about the unreliable weapon during the 1991 Gulf War - fought in desert heat. Britain's defense minister, Geoffrey Hoon, insists the rifle is one of the best. But he told British radio the weapons are being recalled for modification to improve their performance. He would not say whether all the rifles will need to be adjusted.

    /// HOON ACT ///

    If there is a problem that can be resolved, then we should do so. We should make sure that this rifle in the hands of British soldiers is the best possible piece of equipment they can have.

    /// END ACT ///

    The Times newspaper reports that tests on modified versions of the S-A-80 rifle indicate more than 97 percent accuracy in extreme weather conditions. The revelations about the faulty rifle come on top of another news report that upgraded Tornado bomber jets cannot always drop their smart bombs. The Defense Ministry spent more than one billion dollars to upgrade the jet, which is the backbone of Britain's air force. The effort left some of the jets unable to release the precision-guided bombs because of problems with the integrated laser system. Mr. Hoon says the problem has been fixed. And he complains the criticism is exaggerated.

    /// HOON ACT TWO ///

    Clearly, in what is a complex piece of equipment available to armed forces like the Tornado, it is necessary to continually improve it. But it doesn't help frankly just picking on those bits we are trying to improve and say they don't work.

    /// END ACT ///

    British newspapers are also quoting leaked documents that indicate British troops sent to Kosovo during last year's NATO offensive complained about faulty communications equipment (SIGNED)
    NEB/LMK/GE/KL 25-Feb-2000 09:00 AM EDT (25-Feb-2000 1400 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S stock prices were lower Friday, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed below 10-thousand for the first time since last April. V-O-A correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 230 points, more than two percent, at 98-hundred-62. The industrials are down over three-and-one-half percent for the week. Market experts observed with some trepidation as the Dow Jones industrials dipped below 10-thousand for a second straight day, and finally stayed there to close a very volatile week of trading. The Standard and Poor's 500 index shed 20 points. Meanwhile, the NASDAQ composite, coming off a record high, also fell to selling pressure, dropping one- half-of-one percent. There was some shifting about in the NASDAQ market, with big technology names losing ground as investors bought shares of smaller companies.

    // OPT//

    Analyst David Katz does not consider the Dow's downward forays too significant. He believes the worst days for the Industrial Average are just about over:

    /// KATZ ACT ///

    We would not read too much into the Dow above or below 10-thousand. What's most important in regard to the Dow is that it's had a fairly sizable correction, down 12 or 15 percent from its high. We think the majority of the sell-off in the Dow is behind us and it should go up to new highs.

    /// END ACT ////// END OPT ///

    The latest report on the U-S economy shows gross domestic product last quarter grew more robustly than previously reported. This makes it even more likely that interest rates will be going up again.

    /// REST OPT FOR LONG ///

    If the Dow Jones blue-chip index is having a hard time in today's financial environment, the technology- weighted NASDAQ market is enjoying growing popularity. Technology's allure makes sense to Michael Molnar, an analyst with the brokerage firm Salomon Smith Barney. He says people putting money aside for investment purposes are under pressure to perform. And they naturally gravitate, he says, toward those fast-growth areas where virtually everyone else's money seems to be going:

    /// MOLNAR ACT ///

    The velocity of money, I think, is higher now than ever before. Investors are losing their patience. They're focusing on the outsized gains in a handful of stocks, and the money is certainly moving quickly out of the weak performers and into stronger hands, in terms of performance. Yes, to a certain extent it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. But I think there is some fundamental basis there as well.

    /// END ACT ///

    In business news, automakers Ford, General Motors and Daimler-Chrysler announced plans to combine their on- line purchasing programs for suppliers in a single Internet portal. The idea is to create a business-to- business environment allowing for big cost savings. The three automakers will have equal ownership in the new venture, which will operate as an independent company. (Signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/WTW 25-Feb-2000 16:57 PM EDT (25-Feb-2000 2157 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The violent flare-up between Serbs and ethnic Albanians in the Kosovo city of Mitrovica is drawing the attention of more editorialists this Friday. There are questions about the entire NATO peacekeeping effort in Yugoslavia's Kosovo province. Other topics of interest include new belligerence from China toward Taiwan, as the island readies for a presidential election; what the reformers' victory in Iran may mean for relations with the United States; the tight Republican presidential race; the continuing dispute about the future of the little ship-wrecked Cuban boy, Elian Gonzalez; and an angry outburst against undue violence in North America's premier professional ice-hockey league. Now, here is ________ with a closer look and a few excerpts, in today's U-S Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: French, British and U-S army troops have been struggling to contain angry Serbs and ethnic Albanian residents of war-torn Kosovo province from continuing fighting each other in the wake of the civil war there. More U-S papers are wondering whether the violence in the divided city of Mitrovica indicates the futility of trying to keep peace between the two ethnic groups. Boston's Christian Science Monitor, a national daily, says if a multiethnic society is to be restored, more force is needed now.

    VOICE: If a self-governing multiethnic entity remains the goal of intervention there, the means of reaching it have to be strengthened. This requires, above all, developing the civilian structures that can move Kosovo toward stability. ... Kosovo is turning out to be just as thorny as anticipated. // OPT // Pressure could mount to reject the multiethnic model and go for partition. ... That would be a mistake. Resentments would build, fueling future conflict. // END OPT // The western allies should stick to the original goal, beef up efforts to build a civil society, and recognize this will be a very long commitment.

    TEXT: The Daily Oklahoman in Oklahoma City wonders whether more troops are needed, and if so, where will it end.

    VOICE: Many Americans ... remember the term from the dark days of the Vietnam War: escalation. NATO officials are heading down that road in Kosovo with calls this week for additional troops to keep the troubled peace there. // OPT // ...Two French soldiers were shot by snipers in northern Kosovo, and on Sunday angry Serbs stoned U-S troops who were searching for illicit weapons. // END OPT // Americans withdrawing under a hail of stones and garbage recalled scenes from Somalia seven years ago. ... NATO forces continue to be interposed between ethnic factions to create the appearance of peace where no peace actually exists.

    TEXT: The Vietnam analogy, while still a painful memory for the Chicago Tribune, is not apt, says the big Midwestern daily.

    VOICE: ... Kosovo isn't Vietnam -- not now, if ever -- and [General Wesley] Clark, NATO's supreme commander, has the right idea. His call should be heeded, as long as America ... doesn't get saddled with more than its fair share of the peacekeeping burden.

    /// OPT ///

    A message needs to be sent, with a strong show of force, that NATO is resolute and committed to defending Kosovo civilians from all attempts to undermine U-N peacekeeping efforts.

    TEXT: Commenting on the Russian assault on Chechnya, and specifically the razing of Grozny, today's San Jose [California] Mercury News is editorializing with pictures. It runs a series of photos depicting the utter destruction of Grozny as an editorial without words.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: On the other side of the world, the latest bellicose statements from China about reunification with Taiwan, by force if necessary, are coming in for additional comment. The Atlanta Constitution calls the threats in advance of Taiwan's March presidential election "counterproductive.

    VOICE: // OPT // The United States and Taiwan are betting ... the Beijing dragon is not breathing real fire, just more hot air. As it did four years ago, China's Communist leadership is blustering in advance of a presidential election in Taiwan, attempting to influence the outcome with threats of war. ... // END OPT // China's current bully-boy pose seems especially wrong-headed since Congress is considering two bills of vital importance to Beijing. One would normalize U-S trade relations[,] ... an essential step before it can be admitted to the World Trade Organization, and the other would strengthen U-S-Taiwan military ties. Already, China's ultimatum has weakened chances of passage of the former and breathed life into the latter. Ideally, Congress won't over-react.

    TEXT: In Texas, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram suggests Beijing may have over-played its hand in Taiwan's politics, and it worries about how China's handling of this issue will affect the United States.

    VOICE: That could pull the United States into the middle of the standoff and spur resistance in Congress to China's admission to the World Trade Organization. Such heavy-handed action by China, of course, would just about guarantee defeat for the man it would like to be Taiwan's president.

    TEXT: Turning to the Middle East, the victory won by reformers in Iran's parliamentary elections, prompts this call for a reassessment of U-S policy toward Tehran, from The New York Times.

    VOICE: The victory won by reformers in Iran's parliamentary elections should encourage the Clinton administration to try again to defrost relations between Washington and Tehran. Earlier efforts were rebuffed, in part because Iran's harshly anti-American clerical leaders limited President Mohammad Khatami's options. ... But their position has been weakened by the parliamentary vote. ...

    /// OPT ///

    Until the power struggle between reformers and conservative clerics is fully resolved, only limited reconciliation may be possible. ... It is in America's interest ... to reach out to Iran -- a regional power with some 70-million people, large oil reserves and a long tradition of friendship with the United States.

    TEXT: Elsewhere in the region, the as-yet unresolved conflict between Israel, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinians continues to occupy the thoughts of The Dallas Morning News, which today ponders the financial cost to the U-S of the Golan Heights issue.

    VOICE: It is in the interest of the United States for Israeli, Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian leaders to end the war on Israel's northern border and resolve issues over Palestinian status. ... Israel has said it is asking now for 17-billion dollars in U-S support to ensure its security if it returns the Golan Heights to Syria in current negotiations. Although the U-S wants to see peace in the Middle East, it should be sensitive to ... the possibility of destabilizing the area and provoking an arms race if Israel ... is given too much assistance that can be converted to offensive use.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: Now to the increasingly complicated custody battle over the little Cuban boy, Elian Gonzalez, rescued from the sea after his mother drowned in an effort to flee Cuba for Florida. In Charleston, South Carolina, the Post and Courier notes there are indications Elian's father, in Cuba, had advance knowledge of the boat trip, and has himself previously tried to get to the United States.

    VOICE: The Castro dictatorship's story of a loving father pleading for his son to be rescued from Miami relatives who have "kidnapped" him is falling apart, piece by piece. ... It is becoming increasingly clear that [President] Castro's victim will not be Elian, who is safe in Miami with loving relatives who want to adopt him. The victim may well be Elian's father, who remains in Cuba under the surveillance of [Mr.] Castro's secret police.

    TEXT: As far as the Republican presidential primary race is concerned, today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says it is now "a horse race," meaning it has become really contested, with no sure winner yet known.

    VOICE: The Republican Party has an unexpectedly gripping race for the presidential nomination on its hands, thanks in no small part to independents and Democrats who have crossed over in "open primary" states to support the insurgency of Senator John McCain. ... Texas Governor George W. Bush must still be considered the front-runner in the race, but the bruising fight against Senator McCain may seriously tarnish him if he goes on to the general campaign next fall.

    TEXT: Lastly, an unusual outpouring of angry comment about an egregious bit of violence in a recent National [Ice] Hockey League game. At the end of a recent hockey match in British Columbia [Canada], Marty McSorley of the Boston Bruins knocked out Donald Brashear of the Vancouver Canucks team, hitting him from behind with his hockey stick. The incident received wide coverage in the nation's sports pages, and now, after the league suspended Mr. McSorley for the rest of the season, many papers are saying the penalty is not enough. One is The Boston Globe, home city of the Bruins, which says:

    VOICE: The Bruins' hit-man [an especially tough player] should be barred from hockey forever. Since the League failed to take that action Wednesday -- suspending him only through this season -- the Bruins should at least make clear he will never play for Boston again.

    TEXT: The Chicago Tribune says such violence is destroying the game of professional ice hockey and must be stopped.

    VOICE: In its effort to attract T-V viewers, the league has allowed cheap shots, late hits, high sticks, and facial rubs against Plexiglas board to flourish. Much has changed for the worse. ... One wonders what new tragedy it will take to the get the N-H-L [National Hockey League] to cool the fighting...

    TEXT: On that sports note, we conclude this sampling of editorial comment from Friday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/WTW 25-Feb-2000 11:34 AM EDT (25-Feb-2000 1634 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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