Norway refuses offer from Russia to help at Arctic radar...

FOREIGN DIGEST

June 23, 2000

Norway refuses offer from Russia to help at Arctic radar site

MOSCOW - Russia got a swift rebuff yesterday after it suggested that its experts work with Norwegians at a U.S.-built radar station in Arctic Norway that Moscow fears is part of Washington's anti-missile defense plan.

The United States and Norway say the station outside the Norwegian town of Vardoe near the Russian border is suited only to track space debris and is for peaceful purposes.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Thorbjoern Jagland said, "Norwegian authorities have provided Russian authorities with technical details about this radar. I can guarantee that the radar will not be used to undermine the ABM treaty, of which Norway is one of the strongest defenders."

Soccer game leads to arrests in Serbia

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia - Serbian police detained 20 opposition activists, two reporters and a local politician yesterday when they tried to hold a soccer game in the central town of Kragujevac, independent news agency Beta said.

Serbian authorities have branded the student-based Otpor a "fascist-terrorist" organization and police have arrested scores of members across Serbia over the past few months, usually detaining them a short time and then releasing them.

Otpor, like other Serbian opposition groupings labeled as lackeys of Western powers, denies terrorism and says it is committed to democratic reform by peaceful means only.

Annan asks Assad's aid in Israeli border dispute

DAMASCUS, Syria - United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan sought Bashar Assad's help yesterday in maintaining peace on the volatile Israeli-Lebanese border, conferring international recognition on the late President Hafez el Assad's son even before he becomes Syria's president.

The U.N. chief met Bashar Assad in his capacity "as the future leader of the country," U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

Annan wants Syria, which dominates Lebanon, "to allow Lebanon to gradually assume sovereignty and effective control over all its territory," Eckhard said.

Lithuania seeks arrests of 42 in 1991 crackdown

VILNIUS, Lithuania - Lithuania said yesterday that it had asked Russia, Belarus and Ukraine to track down and summon for trial 42 people suspected of taking part in the 1991 Soviet crackdown against Lithuania's bid for independence.

In August, a Lithuanian court sentenced six defendants for their role in organizing and backing the crackdown in the early hours of Jan. 13, 1991, in which 14 people were killed in one of the bloodiest incidents in the fall of the Soviet empire.

Those accused include former Soviet Defense Minister Dmitri Yazov, ex-KGB chief Vladimir Kruchkov and Vladimir Uschopchik, recently appointed deputy defense minister in Belarus.

DeGaulle grandson to lead party's election campaign

PARIS - The grandson of Gen. Charles de Gaulle will lead the far-right National Front's campaign for Paris municipal elections next year, party leader Jean-Marie Le Pen announced yesterday.

Charles de Gaulle, a lawyer, has outraged family members for joining the National Front. The party has long been accused of racism and anti-Semitism, which the other family members say undermine the values of liberty and tolerance that the former president defended.

Liberia stands defiant in face of EU threat

MONROVIA, Liberia - Liberian President Charles Taylor has sent a defiant message to the European Union over a threat to halt aid payments to protest the country's reported support for rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone.

"If someone is waiting for Liberia to get on her knees ... because you stop a little aid money, that's not going to happen," Taylor told reporters in the capital, Monrovia.

The European Union has accused Taylor of "failing to act" to prevent arms from passing through Liberia to rebels in Sierra Leone who took hundreds of U.N. troops hostage in May.

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