Foreign Digest


October 06, 2003

U.S. official praises Pakistan for raids on terror suspects

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- A top U.S. envoy praised Pakistan yesterday for raids that its military has made against suspected terrorist training camps in mountainous regions that border Afghanistan.

"In recent days there have been some rather significant activities that the Pakistani forces have taken against the Taliban and al-Qaida," U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told reporters in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.

Armitage and Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca are in Afghanistan and were to meet President Hamid Karzai and other officials in the Afghan capital, Kabul, to discuss cooperation in the war on terror, according to a U.S. State Department spokesman.

Tropical Storm Larry hits Mexican gulf coast

SANCHEZ MAGALLANES, Mexico -- Tropical Storm Larry hit the southern coast of the Gulf of Mexico yesterday, forcing hundreds of people to flee to shelters, while two other storms threatened Mexico's Pacific coast.

Forecasts show that Nora and Olaf could both reach the peninsula, which has withstood two hurricanes this season. Larry, meanwhile, moved inland over Tabasco state about 55 miles east of the industrial city of Coatzacoalcos, provoking floods in a saturated region.

The storm's winds weakened steadily as it moved inland to 40 mph, and Larry was expected to be downgraded to a tropical depression by late yesterday.

Beijing calls U.S. report on human rights `distorted'

BEIJING -- China's Foreign Ministry lashed out at a U.S. government report that criticized Beijing's human rights record and urged the United Nations to send an investigator to look into torture. Those views were based on "arrogance and prejudices," the ministry said.

The annual report of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China "distorted facts and attacked China by using the issues of human rights," spokesman Kong Quan was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency.

The commission's report criticized Chinese restrictions on political and religious expression, while applauding recent developments in legal reform that it said could foster greater freedoms in the future.

U.N. says 1 billion people live in world's slums

UNITED NATIONS -- About a sixth of the world's population -- nearly 1 billion people -- live in slums, and that number could double by 2030 if developed nations don't start giving the issue serious attention, according to a U.N. report.

The U.N. Human Settlements Program's report, released Saturday, is the first to assess slums and examine how widespread they are.

The report's main finding is stark: Almost half the world's urban population lives in slums. Asia has the largest number of slum dwellers overall, with 554 million, while sub-Saharan Africa has the largest percentage of its urban population living in slums -- about 71 percent.

Woman to be executed in killing of Iranian officer

TEHRAN, Iran -- An Iranian woman accused of killing a police chief in southern Iran who she said tried to rape her has been convicted and is to be executed, the Shargh newspaper reported Saturday.

The woman, Afsaneh Noroozi, 32, who has been in jail since 1997, said during her trial that she had stabbed the chief of police intelligence on the island of Kish in self-defense when he tried to rape her. The police chief, whose name has not been made public, was a friend of Noroozi's family, and she was at his house as a guest.

The newspaper reported that the final ruling, confirmed by a high-level court in August, was delivered to Noroozi in prison in the southern city of Bandar Abbas last week.

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