U.N. rights chief reverses decision, wants to stay on...

FOREIGN DIGEST

April 03, 2001

U.N. rights chief reverses decision, wants to stay on

UNITED NATIONS - Mary Robinson has reversed her decision to step down as U.N. human rights chief and asked for a one-year extension of her term, the United Nations said yesterday.

Two weeks ago, Robinson said she would leave her post in September, at the end of her four-year term. She said she thought she could do more outside the constraints of the U.N. system.

But U.N. officials said that after expressions of regret at her departure from many quarters, she asked for a one-year extension. There was no immediate successor waiting in the wings to replace her, and the extension would give Secretary-General Kofi Annan time to find a qualified candidate.

Blair delays local elections because of foot-and-mouth

LONDON - Prime Minister Tony Blair postponed local elections in Britain yesterday because of the foot-and-mouth epidemic, a signal that national elections also have been put off until June.

Blair, who had been expected to call national and local elections for May 3, made no comment on the date for a national vote. But Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said yesterday that he had wanted a national election in May and had lost the argument.

Blair said there was no technical reason to postpone an election, that it is possible to vote even in the worst-afflicted areas. But some farmers have said that it would be insensitive to conduct elections in the midst of their crisis and would indicate that the Labor government was not concentrating on eradicating foot-and-mouth.

Philippines declares `all-out war' on rebels

MANILA, Philippines - President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ordered "all-out war" on a band of Muslim extremists yesterday, hours after they vowed to behead U.S. hostage Jeffrey Schilling on Thursday to mark the president's 54th birthday.

"We will pursue every one of them relentlessly," Arroyo said of the group Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines. "We shall annihilate them. We will never, ever negotiate with them."

The attack order comes as Arroyo prepares for peace talks with Communist rebels of the New People's Army and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a larger Muslim rebel group.

Annan urges greater effort to curb global warming

NAIROBI, Kenya - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said yesterday that he regrets President Bush's rejection last week of the 1997 Kyoto treaty aimed at cutting greenhouse gases and called for a greater sense of urgency in tackling global warming.

"The Earth is not ours. It is a treasure we hold for future generations, for our children and their children," Annan said at a news conference during a visit to Nairobi, Kenya.

Bush said the Kyoto pact was not in the U.S. interest, because the "idea of placing caps on carbon dioxide does not make economic sense for America."

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