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Voice of America, 00-05-24

Voice of America: Selected Articles Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Voice of America <gopher://>





    INTRO: NATO foreign ministers conclude a two-day meeting in Italy today (Thursday) by bringing Croatia into their Euro-Atlantic partnership council. Ron Pemstein reports from Florence, NATO has resumed its dialogue with Russia but the alliance and Moscow still have differences over the Balkans.

    TEXT: Croatia is considered by NATO to be a success story in the Balkans. The formal agreement being signed here symbolizes NATO's cooperation with Croatia in peace support operations. NATO and Russia have resumed their ministerial dialogue after a more than one-year break caused by NATO's intervention in Kosovo last year. It was clear from comments by Russia's foreign minister Igor Ivanov that there are still important differences between Russia and NATO in the Balkans. Mr. Ivanov contends NATO is not creating the conditions for hundreds of thousands of Serbs to return to Kosovo one year after the conflict. NATO complains Russia allowed an indicted war criminal to visit Moscow without arresting him. Mr. Ivanov dismisses the visit by the Yugoslav Defense Minister as a technical problem, and says it will not be repeated. (Signed)
    NEB/RDP/WTW 24-May-2000 15:32 PM EDT (24-May-2000 1932 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: NATO foreign ministers meeting in Italy have expressed concern about a proposed U-S missile defense system. V-O-A's Ron Pemstein has this report from the NATO ministers meeting in Florence.

    TEXT: The foreign ministers of France and Germany have raised questions about the perceived missile threat the United States sees from so-called rogue states like North Korea or Iran. French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine expressed concern about potential repercussions from Russia's refusal to adjust the 1972 Anti-Ballistic missile treaty. The United States has been seeking adjustments to the treaty to allow development of the proposed U-S missile defense. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer says negative signals will be sent by any U-S decision that ignores Russia's opposition. NATO Secretary-General George Robertson says that despite the concerns, European members of NATO appreciated the assurances given by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that negotiations with Russia are still in progress.

    /// ROBERTSON ACT ///

    It isn't a secret for me to tell you that there are some reservations about missile defense among some of the European allies. That is known. But they are being dealt with in a constructive way. And the president of the United States made it clear to me last November and Mrs. Albright made it crystal clear again today that the United States is interested in the views of all of the allies in NATO.

    /// END ACT ///

    President Clinton has still not decided to go ahead with the limited missile defense program, but Secretary of State Albright told her colleagues a decision on deployment is possible later this year. The Europeans are worried about the expense of matching the missile defense system and the chance that arms control treaties could unravel.

    /// rest opt ///

    Later, speaking to reporters, the Secretary of State says she does not believe Russia's opposition to changing the Anti-Ballistic missile treaty is the reason the Europeans are worried.

    /// ALBRIGHT ACT ///

    We have been briefing them and they need to understand that the N-M-D (National Missile Defense) system is not directed against them, that it is designed to deal with these new threats that we have identified, and I think they need to absorb that lesson. How their thinking and that of the Europeans is connected is hard for me to tell.

    /// END ACT ///

    The NATO ministers also talked about the European Union's plan to develop its own military capacity for operations where the NATO alliance does not want to become involved. The foreign ministers praised the European Union for agreeing to consult the six European NATO members who are not members of the Union. Turkey, Norway, and Iceland have been concerned about the E-U requesting NATO equipment without taking their views into account. (Signed)
    NEB/RDP/JWH 24-May-2000 12:50 PM EDT (24-May-2000 1650 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: NATO and Russia have resumed their ministerial dialogue after more than a one-year break caused by differences over NATO's air campaign in Yugoslavia and Kosovo. From Florence (Italy), where officials from Russia and the NATO countries met Wednesday, V-O-A's Ron Pemstein reports the dialogue has resumed, but so have their differences.

    TEXT: None of the differences between NATO and Russia is more clear-cut than their attitudes toward the International War Crimes tribunal in The Hague. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov (speaking through an interpreter) rejected NATO criticism and dismissed Russia's reception of an indicted war criminal earlier this month as a "technical problem."


    As far as the recent arrival in Moscow of the Minister of Defense of Yugoslavia, this was prompted by an internal technical hitch between various agencies, various ministries and measures are now being taken that such a situation as this should not be repeated.

    /// END ACT ///

    As a member of the United Nations Security Council, Russia was obligated to detain General Dragoljub Odjanic when he was on its territory. Instead, the general returned to Belgrade without incident. U-S Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says Russia's action was wrong.

    /// ALBRIGHT ACT ///

    We think it is inappropriate for an indicted war criminal to be hosted in Moscow. The Russians voted for the war crimes tribunal, they have been a part of the resolution 1244, and it isn't appropriate for him to have been there and to have been hosted.

    /// END ACT //

    Foreign Minister Ivanov makes clear that while Russia respects the United Nations resolution, it does not respect the war crimes tribunal.


    On this body [the tribunal] there is a predominance of Western representatives and U-S representatives, and so at the relevant moment and in line with the relevant rules we will be raising this question.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Ivanov raised his own disagreement with NATO, saying it has not created the conditions for the return of Serbs to Kosovo as required by the United Nations. More than 200-thousand Serbs have not been able to go home. In the midst of these disagreements, NATO and Russia agreed to open a NATO information office in Moscow and an 18-point program of military cooperation in this year. While their relations are not yet normal, NATO Secretary-General George Robertson says NATO realizes there is a new Russia and Russia realizes there is a new NATO. (Signed)
    NEB/RDP/JWH/WTW 24-May-2000 15:24 PM EDT (24-May-2000 1924 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Yugoslavia's increasingly isolated government has launched a foreign policy initiative seeking closer ties with Russia and China. Stefan Bos reports from Budapest that Western diplomats say they fear this development could harm their efforts to undermine the government of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

    TEXT: In a statement that has worried some European Union diplomats, Yugoslavia's Foreign Ministry announced that its relations with Russia and Communist China are thriving. The Yugoslav envoy to Moscow, Borislav Milosevic, who is the brother of President Slobodan Milosevic, told reporters that his country's diplomatic ties with the Russian Government were, in his words - strengthening. He added that Russia would never support the overthrow of the current Yugoslav government by the opposition.

    /// OPT ///

    The Yugoslav envoy stressed that earlier this month Russia had issued an invitation to Yugoslav Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic and Defense Minister Dragoljub Ojdanic, who was indicted for war crimes. /// END OPT /// The Belgrade government says it is also seeking to improve relations with China, which is still upset about NATO's accidental bombing of its embassy in the Yugoslav capital during the bombing campaign last year. Officials say the head of China's National People's Congress, Li Peng, is scheduled to visit Belgrade in the near future.

    /// OPT ///

    Analysts say Belgrade sees China as a key ally against Western governments. Belgrade accuses the West of using the opposition in the main Yugoslav Republic of Serbia to try to oust President Milosevic.

    /// END OPT ///

    Western diplomats say this potential new alliance with Russia and China may undermine international efforts to further isolate the government of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who was indicted by the U-N War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. The European Union is reported to be uneasy over Russia's relationship with Yugoslavia, prior to the June summit meeting between U-S President Bill Clinton and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The E-U had hoped that Mr. Putin would distance himself from the government in Belgrade. Opponents of Yugoslav President Milosevic say the foreign policy initiative is merely a last effort by the government to survive international and domestic isolation. Even the smallest Yugoslav republic, Montenegro, suggested this week that it may break away from the Yugoslav federation if that was the wish of its citizens. In Serbia, the pressure is growing as well - following a media crackdown and a mass trial in which 143-ethnic Albanians were jailed for up to 13-years on terrorism charges. The Foreign Ministry said the government would press ahead with new anti-terrorist measures designed to stop what it called - attempts to stir unease among people in Serbia. (SIGNED)
    NEB/SB/GE/RAE 24-May-2000 12:26 PM EDT (24-May-2000 1626 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S stock prices rallied today (Wednesday), with technology finally breaking a five-day losing streak. V-O-A correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 113 points higher, one percent, at 10-thousand-535. The technology-weighted Nasdaq composite came back after early trading losses for a gain of over three-percent. And the Standard and Poor's 500 index - a measure of the broader market - closed up 25 points, nearly two- percent higher. Volume was heavy for a change, after many days of unusually light trading.

    /// BEGIN OPT ///

    Analyst Art Cashin sees the increased volume as a sign that the market may be approaching a point of equilibrium, with as many buyers as sellers:

    /// CASHIN ACT ///

    Quite often when you have the very low volume, it's been one-sided - a lot of momentum players. Now we're seeing people seeing bids that they can hit and buyers finding offers they can take, and that's contributed to the volume. We've had big see-saw motion (choppy trading) but I think the high volume is a bit of a good sign - not an "all-clear" signal - but a bit of a good sign.

    /// END ACT ///

    /// END OPT ///

    A big deal was announced in the airlines business. United plans to buy U-S Air. United is number one in the world. U-S Air is number six. The new company would have almost twice the number of daily flights as its nearest competitor. U-S Air stock soared over 85-percent on the news, while shares of U-A-L - the parent company of United - fell 13 percent.

    /// REST OPT ///

    Microsoft was back in court. It was not a good day for the software giant. A federal judge refused to discuss Microsoft's motion to dismiss a government plan to break the company in two, and expressed interest in an outside recommendation for a three-way split instead. The U-S court reconvened for the final stage of the landmark anti-trust trial against Microsoft. Meanwhile, Microsoft shares gained some lost ground, edging almost four-percent higher. (Signed) NEB/NY/EJ/gm 24-May-2000 16:43 PM LOC (24-May-2000 2043 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Three widely divergent issues dominate the editorial pages of U-S newspapers. The morning papers carry a lot of last-minute thoughts on the House of Representatives vote whether to normalize, permanently, trade relations with China. Secondly, there is a raging debate on whether the Arkansas Supreme Court should disbar President Bill Clinton. And thirdly, editorial writers are spending plenty of words on Israel's unexpectedly hasty pullout of Lebanon.

    /// OPT ///

    Other commentaries deal with the questionable election pending in Peru; South African President Mbeki's unorthodox view of AIDS treatment; the Horn of Africa border war; and that fire the U-S Park Service set, that jumped out of control and burned Los Alamos, New Mexico.

    /// END OPT ///

    Now, here is ____________ with a closer look and some quotes in today's Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote later today on the China trade bill, to permanently normalize relations with Beijing. The papers are calling it one of the most important ballots to come before that body in years. Most newspapers favor the measure, but a few oppose it outright, and some are skeptical it will have the desired, long-term effect of improving China's domestic human-rights record.

    TEXT: In South Florida, The Miami Herald puts it this way in its lead editorial's opening.

    VOICE: Plain and simply, it is in this country's best interest to normalize trade relations with China.

    TEXT: The New York Post, which seldom agrees with President Clinton, explains that even though respected Chinese dissidents oppose the move:

    VOICE: ... The Greater the Western presence in China, the greater the likelihood that China will become more respectful of Western values - and that would mean only good things for human rights in that vast land. ...// OPT // For the good of all concerned, permanent normal trade relations should become law. // END OPT


    TEXT: One of the few voices of opposition in the press comes from Mr. Clinton's home state, where the [Little Rock] Democrat Gazette cites healthy trade with Germany and Japan prior to World War Two. It had, the Democrat Gazette reminds, no effect on human rights, or in stopping the world war. And, points out the paper:

    VOICE: Repression on the Chinese mainland has increased as trade with the West has grown. Lower the barriers further, and what incentive will that regime have to move toward freedom? ... A nation [the U-S] that once championed human rights now is more interested in making a dollar. It will not be the first time. And each time there has been an awful price to pay when we wake up.

    TEXT: The Tulsa [Oklahoma] World suggests that: "Congress should open doors to China," and in Texas The Fort Worth Star-Telegram agrees; The [Akron, Ohio] Beacon Journal adds:

    VOICE: Pursuing wider trade with China is a beneficial step, offering new markets and new opportunities.

    // OPT //

    TEXT: Or, as USA Today, the national daily published in the Washington suburbs puts it, in the lead editorial headline: Why expand China trade? Everyone wins.

    TEXT: And lastly, The Washington Post, taking note of China's still dismal human-rights record, says:

    VOICE: Nevertheless, the House should say yes to permanent normal trade relations today, because there are better arguments to be made - and because the ... opponents are even less convincing.

    // END OPT //

    TEXT: And now, the other great domestic debate, which, to paraphrase Shakespeare, resembles this: to disbar or not to disbar: that is the question. A disciplinary panel of the Arkansas Supreme Court has recommended that President Clinton be disbarred from the practice of law in that state. The reason: his lying, under oath, about his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The press appears to be almost equally divided, with a slight majority favoring disbarment. And in Oklahoma City, The [Daily] Oklahoman is nothing less than elated at the prospect.

    VOICE: Bravo to the Arkansas Supreme Court's disciplinary committee, which [has] recommended that Bill Clinton be disbarred ... this case involves issues larger than [the president] - namely, whether the law in general and the legal profession in Arkansas will maintain integrity by punishing "serious misconduct."

    TEXT: Another paper, long sharply critical of the President, New Hampshire's Manchester Union Leader has the same philosophy:

    VOICE: The ... disciplinary panel was correct to recommend ... that President Clinton lose his license to practice law. The public needs to have confidence in lawyers' truthfulness in order for this nation's legal system to mean anything.

    TEXT: And in Pennsylvania's Greensburg Tribune- Review, outside Pittsburgh, the editorial comment is:

    VOICE: Bill Clinton says ... he wants ... to be treated "like everybody else." Well, in Arkansas, liars are disbarred.

    TEXT: However other dailies disagree, among them The [Minneapolis, Minnesota] Star Tribune which says a "more fitting penalty would be a reprimand or suspension," adding":

    VOICE: ... disbarment is almost always reserved for lawyers who have been convicted of a felony, most often for stealing money from a client. In Arkansas, no lawyer has been disbarred in the absence of a felony conviction. [Mr.] Clinton has been convicted of nothing. He was cited for contempt of court ...for giving false testimony ... In similar cases, the most common action applied is a reprimand.

    TEXT: On Long Island, Newsday feels the president may be being singled out for special, adverse treatment, and says he should only be disbarred: "If Others Get [the] Same Treatment."

    VOICE: A president should not be above the law, but he should not be subject to a harsher penalty as a lawyer just because his home address happens to be the White House.

    TEXT: The Philadelphia Inquirer agrees, saying he should only be disbarred if other Arkansas lawyers found guilt of perjury, are disbarred. A third body of editorials, while taking no firm position, suggest that if Mr. Clinton is disbarred, he has only himself to blame. One is Pittsburgh's Post- Gazette.

    VOICE: It is true that some of Mr. Clinton's critics were implacable ideological opponents who capitalized on his misconduct for their own partisan purposes. But that misconduct, which involved much more than sex, was Mr. Clinton's own doing. If he suffers the additional indignity of being disbarred, he likewise will have himself to blame.

    TEXT: The day's third prominent topic is the hectic withdrawal of Israeli forces from the former security zone in extreme South Lebanon. The [Cleveland, Ohio] Plain Dealer exclaims:

    VOICE: Now, with startling swiftness, fighters of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah faction have taken matters into their own hands, driving hundreds of soldiers of the South Lebanon Army into exile in Israel, or taking them prisoner. It is a startling reversal of fortune for [Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Barak, who only a week ago won an important vote in the Israeli parliament on ceding more territory to the Palestinians.

    TEXT: The Chicago Tribune, noting the unruly exodus, nevertheless suggests:

    VOICE: War is never neat, and retreat is never orderly. But when the smoke clears from Israel's chaotic troop withdrawal from Lebanon, the status quo in the Middle East will have shifted significantly - and for the better. ...Lebanon's national army, with Syria's backing, should move in to take control of the border and prevent any spillover of violence into northern Israel. ... [Prime Minister] Barak is now ready to hold Lebanon and Syria accountable for any attacks on Israel that come from Lebanon. That is justified.

    TEXT: In Texas, The Houston Chronicle says the immediate future is confused.

    VOICE: Israel's hastened withdrawal from southern Lebanon could be a necessary spasm on the long path to peace in the Middle East, or it might be the prelude to another chapter of chronic violence. Given the animosity the region's enemies feel for one another ... the odds favor the latter.

    /// REST OPT ///

    TEXT: Peru is heading toward a presidential election, that, according to the U-S press, looks anything but democratic. The St. Petersburg [Florida] Times is one of several angry dailies.

    VOICE: Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori likes to win elections, but that is where his appreciation for democracy ends. He was first elected 10-years ago on a promise to end hyperinflation and defeat an entrenched guerrilla movement. He succeeded - but only after shutting down Peru's Congress, muzzling the press, outlawing opposition parties and trashing Peru's existing constitution. ... the O-A-S ... [says] [Mr.] Fujimori has refused to take the steps necessary to ensure that the vote count will be free and fair. [His main opponent in the primary, Alejandro] Toledo declared this week he will not participate in the vote, but [Mr.] Fujimori is prepared to proceed with the sham of an election. Only international pressure can prevent what could turnout to be a final assault on Peruvian democracy.

    TEXT: South Africa's President, Thabo Mbeki visited the White House this week for a discussion of Africa's problems, especially AIDS on which he holds heretical views. Nebraska's Omaha World Herald says it considers him part of the problem. The paper lists several bits of good news on the problem, then concludes:

    VOICE: Regrettably, [Mr.] Mbeki ... has complicated AIDS prevention efforts in his country by lending credence to controversial researchers who deny that H- I-V leads to AIDS. Those medical dissidents even claim that screening blood for H-I-V is a pointless exercise. [President] Mbeki scheduled meetings this week with U-S health officials and medical researchers specializing in the AIDS issue. The more successful those medical experts are in informing [Mr.] Mbeki of the scientific consensus on AIDS, the better served his country is likely to be.

    TEXT: Turning to the Horn of Africa, and the resumption of a bitter border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea over an apparently worthless section of barren desert, Today's Chicago Tribune notes:

    VOICE: Western peacemaking, economic aid and trade concessions are levers to progress. But to be useful, any such lever needs a fulcrum in the form of a good government ruled by rational people dedicated to the best interests of their people. Where such governments exist in Africa, promising things are happening. Sadly, in Ethiopia and Eritrea, there is no promise, only war and famine.

    TEXT: And finally, some more scathing comments about that small fire, set in New Mexico by the U-S National Park Service to burn dangerously, tinder dry, underbrush, to prevent a spontaneous forest fire. The set fire burned out of control, burning more than 200 homes and tens-of-thousands of hectares of forest. Says Waterbury, Connecticut Republican-American:

    VOICE: Damage estimates are running to one-billion dollars, but folks whose homes were transformed into ash-filled holes in the ground have nothing to worry about. "As forceful as he was in ascribing blame, Mr. Babbitt was equally strong in saying that the federal government would accept full blame for the wildfire," The New York Times reported. But what of the Peter Principled supervisors, promoted beyond their competency and given flammable materials they had no business handling? What of the workers who knew the planned burn was a botch from the beginning but did not open their mouths? What of the Park Service culture that permitted such rank incompetence to flourish? What of Mr. Babbitt, the top man in this ramshackle operation?

    TEXT: On that note we conclude this sampling of comment from the editorial pages of Wednesday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/RAE 24-May-2000 11:58 AM EDT (24-May-2000 1558 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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