World In Brief

27 March



MOSCOW: Vladimir Putin was elected Russian president, according to preliminary results giving him more than 52 percent of the vote with almost all ballots counted, the Central Electoral Commission said.


MOSCOW: Russia's government will remain unchanged until president-elect Vladimir Putin is inaugurated in early May, Interfax reported, citing first deputy prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov.


JERUSALEM: Foreign Minister David Levy said Israel was still committed to pulling its troops out of south Lebanon by July despite the failure of a US-Syria summit to kickstart the peace talks with Damascus.


LOS ANGELES: �American Beauty,� British director Sam Mendes' biting satire of American suburbia, won five Oscars, including best picture and best actor, at the 72nd Academy Awards here.


ZAMBOANGA, Philippines: Philippine troops called off a military operation against Muslim guerrillas to allow negotiators to bargain for the release of about 33 civilian hostages, many of them children, the presidential palace said.


TAIPEI: Former Taiwan transporation and communications minister, Lin Feng-cheng, took over as secretary general of the influential Kuomintang (KMT), pledging sweeping reforms following the party's presidential defeat.


BAGHDAD: Iraqis began voting to elect a new parliament loyal to the regime of President Saddam Hussein, in which his eldest son Uday hopes to win a seat for the first time.


JAKARTA: Indonesian prosecutors said they would question former president Suharto this week over allegations of corruption during his 32 years in power.


FRANKFURT: DaimlerChrysler said that it had agreed to buy a 34-percent stake in the heavily-indebted Japanese car maker Mitsubishi Motors for 2.1 billion euros (two billion dollars).


KABUL: A senior Taliban official confirmed that former provincial governor and key opposition leader Ismail Khan has escaped from a maximum security prison in southern Afghanistan.


MANILA: Philippine presidential bodyguards are investigating an alleged assassination plot against President Joseph Estrada, the presidential palace said.

Clinton S.Asia tour highlights perils of Kashmir crisis: analysts


US President Bill Clinton's South Asian tour has focused the spotlight on Kashmir, but many Pakistanis were disappointed by his refusal to mediate over the intractable issue, analysts said Sunday.

Clinton held �frank and serious� talks with Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf during his short visit here Saturday on the last leg of his six-day tour after visting Bangladesh and India.

But he got no firm commitments from the two newly nuclear-armed Asian states on the key issues of reducing tension over Kashmir and nuclear proliferation.

There is �no doubt that Clinton's tour has helped project the nuclear dangers, and much more the Kashmir crisis onto the international stage,� said analyst Nasim Zehra.

Islamabad was able to put across its points of view on the key issues in a �candid� manner, besides opening lines of communication at the highest level between the two sides, she said.

�It is also important for America to keep communications open as Pakistan is a nuclear state and a major player in the region,� Zehra said.

Pakistan and India both claim the Himalayan state of Kashmir which is divided between them. The dispute has triggered two wars between them since 1947 and is now widely considered a nuclear flashpoint.

Musharraf, speaking after Clinton's departure, offered to resume dialogue with India �at any time, any place� but stressed that the central place occupied by Kashmir in the India-Pakistan stalemate had to be recognised.

A former president of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Sardar Abdul Qayyum, said Clinton had rightly underlined the perils by describing the region as �the most dangerous place on earth.�

�I am sure he will play a role in faciliating a dialogue between Pakistan and India on Kashmir although he is reluctant to mediate because of India's unreasonable rejection,� Qayyum said.

But militant groups involved in a separatist campaign in Indian-held Kashmir, saw no ray of hope, saying Clinton chose to ignore the Kashmiris' right to choose their future.

�We are totally disappointed. Clinton appears to be siding with India and wants an end to the legitimate Kashmiri freedom struggle which, however, will never happen,� Harkatul Mujahideen leader Fazalur Rehman Khalil said.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar said after Saturday's talks the US could facilitate a dialogue on Kashmir through some other means other than direct mediation.

No leader in the world has emphasised the need for settling the Kashmir question to the extent that the US leader has, Sattar said.

So, Pakistanis have �high expectations� as he has contributed to bringing parties in conflict together in the Middle East, Northern Ireland, in East Timor, Kosovo and Bosnia, the foreign minister said.

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