AFGHANISTAN: BRITAIN COMMITS NEW TROOPS
Britain's defense secretary, John Reid, said that Britain would send another 3,300 troops to Afghanistan, most for a mission to bring NATO peacekeepers into the dangerous south of the country for the first time.
The deployment will take Britain's total force in the country to 5,700 after it assumes command of the NATO mission there in May. Canada is to send 2,200 troops for the southern operation; the Dutch have promised 1,200. NATO has been operating in the north and west, while the more volatile south has been patrolled by the United States outside NATO.
A NATO spokesman said it was taking slightly longer than some had suggested for NATO to assume command of the force moving into the south but predicted it would happen between June and September. (REUTERS)
SRI LANKA: A THREAT TO TALK OF PEACE
In an incident that European cease-fire monitors say could imperil coming negotiations between the Sri Lankan government and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, one guerrilla was killed in an explosion, drawing rage from rebel officials and denials of involvement by the government.
A breakaway rebel faction that operates in government-held areas was blamed for the attack, which came a day after the government and the Tigers agreed to resume peace talks. Hours after the attack, the army accused the Tigers of firing at least two rocket-propelled grenades at a military checkpoint. SHIMALI SENANAYAKE (NYT)
ZIMBABWE: LEADER WANTS CHINESE LANGUAGE CLASSES
Citing a "compelling need" to bring China and Zimbabwe closer, President Robert G. Mugabe wants university students to become fluent in Mandarin, the education minister, Stanislaus Mudenge, said. Mr. Mudenge urged universities to offer a Mandarin curriculum as part of a cultural exchange program with China, which he said would improve trade and tourism.
The National Association of Student Unions denounced the plan as a gimmick to curry favor with the Chinese, who have moved to deepen political and economic ties with the Mugabe government. Mr. Mugabe's so-called Look East policy has already brought imports of Chinese clothes, purchases of Chinese buses and aircraft and even Chinese food to Zimbabwe's cities. MICHAEL WINES (NYT)
RUSSIA: REBUKE OF COMMUNISM'S EVILS REJECTED
The speaker of Russia's Parliament snubbed a call by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for former Communist countries to reassess their repressive histories and to "condemn them without any ambiguity." On Wednesday, the assembly, which represents legislators from European countries, called for governments to confront their nations' former policies of starvation, mass executions and concentration camps. Yesterday, Boris Gryzlov, the Russian speaker, labeled the statement "a waste of energy and time" and a "crusade against ghosts of the past." C. J. CHIVERS (NYT)
SPAIN: 1981 COUP LEADER JOINS CRITICS OF AUTONOMY
Antonio Tejero Molina, a former lieutenant colonel who led a failed military coup against Spain's infant democracy in 1981, said it was time for King Juan Carlos to take action to prevent the current government from granting the region of Catalonia greater autonomy. His comments, made in a letter to the newspaper Melilla Hoy, follow statements from two military leaders this month warning of unrest in the armed forces over Catalan efforts to loosen ties with Madrid. In his letter, Mr. Tejero said the current government was "giving up the homeland" by making concessions to the Catalans. "The truth is that they are trying to break the Crown of Spain," he said. "We would be cowards if we let this become a vile reality." RENWICK McLEAN (NYT)
UNITED NATIONS: NO BAIL FOR OIL-FOR-FOOD SUSPECT
A federal judge in New York denied bail to Tongsun Park, the Korean lobbyist facing charges in the scandal surrounding the United Nations oil-for-food program in Iraq, on the ground that he might flee the United States if released. Mr. Park was indicted in New York on Monday on charges that he acted as an unregistered agent for Iraq during negotiations to set up the aid program. JULIA PRESTON (NYT)
LATIN AMERICA: NEW ENERGY TO THE LEFT
The political season brings changes every day. New elections have brought left leaning leaders into power all over Latin America, and political partnerships are changing rapidly. Business based candidates are being pushed out of office as the people of Latin America call for less greed, less corruption, and more responsive policies to provide opportunity for the vast majority of the people. This is a powerful and exciting time for Latin Americans, when the people finally believe their voices are being heard.
UNITED STATES: BUSH, GO RIDE A BIKE
Political insiders have given the word for Bush to go lower profile and to not propose new initiatives. Recent polls indicate massive negatives on the Bush Administration and Republicans fear that Bush can only do more damage to elective hopes of the party at this point. Corruption scandals and exposure of insider relationships with large corporate contributors continue to gain attention. An "Impeach Bush" campaign now has over 600,000 signatures and constitutional attorneys believe that he may face legal problems because of the massive illegal wiretappings. Democrats believe it possible to gain a majority in the House of Representatives, and many believe that the political winds have finally turned in the U.S.A. Most Americans are not pleased with the Bush Administration, and simply want to "ride it out" for the remainer of the political term. Orders whispered to Bush: "Be quiet. Ride your bike more."
Potential presidential candidates:
Democrat top choices: John Edwards and Hillary Clinton
Republican top choices: John McCain and Condi Rice.