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Voice of America, 00-05-26

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

From: The Voice of America <gopher://gopher.voa.gov>


CONTENTS

  • [01] SERBIA / DEMOS BY IRENA GUZELOVA (BELGRADE)
  • [02] YUGO WAR CRIMES (L ONLY) BY LAUREN COMITEAU (THE HAGUE)
  • [03] CLINTON / EUROPE (L) BY DEBORAH TATE (WHITE HOUSE)
  • [04] NORTHERN IRELAND (L-ONITER) BY EVANS HAYS (LONDON)
  • [05] NORTHERN IRELAND (L) BY EVANS HAYS (LONDON)
  • [06] ULSTER / MAGINNIS BY EVANS HAYS (LONDON)
  • [07] NY ECON WRAP (S&L) BY ELAINE JOHANSON (NEW YORK)
  • [08] FRIDAY'S EDITORIALS BY ANDREW GUTHRIE (WASHINGTON)

  • [01] SERBIA / DEMOS BY IRENA GUZELOVA (BELGRADE)

    DATE=5/26/2000
    TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT
    NUMBER=5-46385
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: Yugoslav authorities are proposing a new anti- terrorism law which critics say would greatly extend police powers and strengthen the government's ability to repress the opposition. Many suspect the law is aimed at opposition activists who have been taking part in protest demonstrations for the past week. But, as Irena Guzelova reports from Belgrade, many Serbs do not seem interested in the anti-government protests -- at least, not interested enough to take part.

    TEXT: Serb police last week closed down the country's main opposition television station and two opposition radio stations. Thousands gathered to protest in downtown Belgrade -- a demonstration broken up by police using tear gas. One week later, the protests continue, but the crowds have dwindled. Barely one-thousand people gathered for this demonstration in front of Belgrade's city hall.

    /// SOUND OF RALLY - FADE UP AND UNDER ///

    In the earlier protest, police arrested and beat dozens of passers-by, and it appears many Serbs may now be afraid to demonstrate. Many others seem disinterested in what is happening. As police raided bars and arrested store attendants last week, customers in nearby cafes continued to sip their drinks. After ten years of turmoil in the region, numerous rallies which failed to bring about change, and a constant drumbeat of government propaganda, many Serbs apparently just want to distance themselves from politics. For many, the television station that was shut down last week was only a mouthpiece of the opposition -- just as the state-run media is the government's mouthpiece. They believe the closure of the Studio B T-V station was regrettable -- but not something worth risking one's safety for. Jelena, who trained as an engineer, explains why she does not attend protest rallies.

    /// JELENA ACT ///

    First of all, I'm a little bit sick of rallies in this town, let's say kind of exhausted, because turnouts of previous rallies were quite big. There is a portion of fear of what police can do to me. But this is not the main reason. I personally dislike Studio B and I always regarded (it) as a dependent media, so I don't want to participate in something I never respected basically.

    /// END ACT ///

    Opinion polls show that support for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is at an all-time low. Only about 20 per cent of voters -- mainly pensioners over the age of 65 -- say they would vote for him. The vast majority of the people say they want change. But critics say the opposition parties have once again failed to articulate the public's growing dissatisfaction. They say the opposition lacks courage and strategic planning. When about 30-thousand protestors gathered in front of Belgrade's city hall last week, the leaders withdrew into the building to discuss what to do. Protestors complained the leaders left the crowd standing, only to be beaten by the police. The director of a market research company, Srdjan Bogosavljevic, says rallies need a clear purpose and direction to have any effect.

    /// BOGOSAVLJEVIC ACT ONE ///

    I would say there is greater dissatisfaction, but the problem with entering some rally is to have a very clear and simple idea why. There is no clear and transparent idea now. They would be ready to fight for election results but they don't know how to fight for better living conditions. Will we really have better living conditions if we change the regime? No one can answer that.

    /// END ACT ///

    Polls show that as many as 50 per cent of Serbs are not sure who they would vote for. Most speak openly against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. But when they talk about the opposition, they use language similar to that used by state-run media -- which regularly accuses the opposition of collaborating with NATO and plotting war in Serbia. Mr. Bogosavljevic says many Serbs are now confused. Most have not been outside the country in the past ten years and are not sure whether to believe the government's stories about an international conspiracy against the country.

    /// BOGOSAVLJEVIC ACT TWO ///

    They've spent ten years in this environment and ten years in this propaganda against somebody.

    /// END ACT ///

    Most Serbs think change will come only as a result of a split within the ruling power structures -- or a spontaneous outburst of dissatisfaction which has little to do with opposition groups. (Signed)
    NEB/IG/JWH/KBK 26-May-2000 07:34 AM EDT (26-May-2000 1134 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [02] YUGO WAR CRIMES (L ONLY) BY LAUREN COMITEAU (THE HAGUE)

    DATE=5/26/2000
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-262852
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: War crimes prosecutors in The Hague have finished their sixth week of presenting evidence in the case against Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstic. As Lauren Comiteau reports from The Hague, General Krstic is charged with genocide for allegedly directing the murder of thousands of Muslim men and boys after the fall of the Bosnian town of Srebrenica in 1995.

    TEXT: Prosecutors say they have found -- at the very least -- one-thousand-883 bodies. Most of them are men, and all were allegedly killed after Bosnian Serbs overran the U-N-declared safe area of Srebrenica. About 75-hundred people are believed to have been killed in the days that followed. The man who prosecutors say commanded the troops is 52-year old General Radislav Krstic. General Krstic listened impassively throughout the week as prosecutors brought in survivors of the massacres, forensic experts, and even an archaeologist to testify how the Bosnian Serb army carried out the executions and then attempted to cover them up. The week's first witness was a former soldier and a convicted war criminal -- Drazen Erdemovic. He had pled guilty to being part of an execution squad that murdered up to 12-hundred Muslims on a single day. Erdemovic was sentenced to five years for those crimes and, after serving part of his time in a Norwegian jail, voluntarily returned to The Hague to testify against the General.

    /// ERDEMOVIC -- FADE UNDER ///

    Erdemovic said the men were taken off buses and lined- up in groups of ten. They were ordered to turn their backs and when they did, said Erdemovic, we were given orders to shoot them.

    /// OPT ///

    One Muslim man who survived a similar massacre was identified only as witness S. He testified how he and others waited for their lives to end on the banks of the River Jadar. As Bosnian Serbs open fired, he threw himself into the river and let the current carry him away. He was shot in the side, but lived to have his day in court. /// END OPT
    ///
    Judges were shown photographs of graves filled with rotting corpses and mutilated pieces of bodies. Prosecutors have exhumed a total of 17 mass graves. They still have 21 left to examine. Some of them are original gravesites, others are what prosecutors call secondary grave sites -- the places where bodies from the original sites were moved when Serbs allegedly tried to cover up their crimes. Investigators told in detail how they connected the sites to each other by matching samples of fibers from the blindfolds the victims were forced to wear. Forensic experts examined shell casings and archeologists reconstructed bodies from the parts that remained. Prosecution investigator Dean Manning described how his team used photos, I-Ds, and even an artificial leg to help identify the victims. Sometimes it worked, he says, other times it did not. Mr. Manning told the story of how one 16-year-old boy was identified by a necklace his mother had given him.

    /// MANNING ACT ///

    She indicated that she gave him the chain as a gift. He placed it around his neck. Because of his small size, it was too long. She saw him knot it to make it easier to wear. She was able to identify the pendant itself, particularly the (letter) S, and more importantly, identify the knot she saw her son put in that chain.

    /// END ACT ///

    Prosecutors are laying out their case -- putting the facts about the murders and how they were committed into the legal record. So far, the general has been linked to the crimes only through video tapes showing him in the area at the times they were committed. (Signed) NEB/LC/JWH/ENE/KBK 26-May-2000 13:48 PM EDT (26-May-2000 1748 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [03] CLINTON / EUROPE (L) BY DEBORAH TATE (WHITE HOUSE)

    DATE=5/26/2000
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-262865
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: President Clinton is leaving Washington Monday on a week-long, four-nation trip to Europe. The highlight will be his first Moscow summit with Russia's newly-elected President Vladimir Putin. U-S officials are playing down expectations for any breakthrough on arms control at the Kremlin. White House correspondent Deborah Tate has this preview of the trip.

    TEXT: Arms-control agreements traditionally have been the centerpiece of U-S - Russian summits, but U-S officials indicate this year will be an exception. Arms-control talks did get a boost in April, when the Russian Parliament approved the long-delayed START-Two agreement. START-Two aims to reduce each side's nuclear arsenal to between three-thousand and three- thousand-500 warheads. The United States would like to reduce the number of warheads further -- to between two-thousand and two- thousand-500 warheads -- under a START-Three accord. Russia is proposing even deeper cuts, but that is an idea that U-S Defense officials reject. Complicating arms-control talks is a dispute over changes the United States wants to make to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, to allow for the establishment of a limited missile shield, to protect against potential attacks from what Washington calls "rogue states" -- including Iran, Iraq and North Korea. Russia opposes amending the A-B-M treaty, saying it would threaten decades of arms-control deals. Mr. Clinton is expected to decide on deployment of an anti-missile system later this year. But for now, the president's national security adviser, Sandy Berger, says he is not optimistic about major progress on arms control during Mr. Clinton's visit to Moscow, on June 4th and 5th.

    /// 1st BERGER ACT ///

    I do not expect these issues will be resolved at this summit. I expect that it will be a good opportunity for us to explain our view of the problem, and for President Putin to express his view of the problem.

    /// END ACT ///

    The national security adviser is more hopeful about prospects for an accord on non-proliferation.

    /// 2nd BERGER ACT ///

    I hope that we will be able to reach an agreement by the summit that will result in the destruction of 34 tons of military-grade plutonium on each side. This is an enormously important agreement if we are able to finalize it. That is enough plutonium, literally, to make tens of thousands of nuclear weapons.

    /// END ACT ///

    Other issues on the summit agenda include economic and democratic reform in Russia, as well as regional conflicts, including Chechnya, where Russian troops are fighting separatist rebels. While in Moscow, Mr. Clinton is expected to address the Duma, the (lower house of the) Russian Parliament. He will be the first American president ever to do so. His visit to Russia will follow stops in Portugal and Germany.

    // OPT //

    In Portugal, Mr. Clinton will attend a U-S European Union summit in Lisbon. National security adviser Berger says leaders will discuss progress in bringing peace and stability to Kosovo as well as a trans-Atlantic trade dispute over banana import rules and an E-U ban on hormone-treated U-S beef. In Germany, the president will be honored for his efforts to unify Europe at an award ceremony in Aachen, and then attend a meeting on centrist policies with more than a dozen other world leaders, in Berlin. On the sidelines of that summit, Mr. Clinton is expected to hold private talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak -- their first meeting since Israeli soldiers withdrew from southern Lebanon earlier this week, ending 22 years of occupation. // END OPT // The president's last stop in Europe is Ukraine. He will meet with President Leonid Kuchma in Kiev and address the Ukrainian people on the need to stay on the path of reform if their country is to be integrated into the rest of Europe. Mr. Berger says the message is aimed at the broadest audience.

    /// 3RD BERGER ACT ///

    We hope in delivering that message it will be heard not only in Ukraine, but beyond, in all of the nations of the former Soviet Union.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Clinton returns to Washington on Monday, June 6th. (Signed)
    NEB/DAT/WTW 26-May-2000 17:56 PM EDT (26-May-2000 2156 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [04] NORTHERN IRELAND (L-ONITER) BY EVANS HAYS (LONDON)

    DATE=5/26/2000
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-262850
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: Northern Ireland's main Protestant leader, David Trimble, and his Ulster Unionist Party are set to vote on whether to return to a power-sharing regional government with Catholics. As V-O-A's Evans Hays reports from London, hard-line Unionists oppose the move.

    TEXT: In the hours leading up to the Saturday meeting of the Unionist governing council, Mr. Trimble urged party members to look to the future and vote yes on power-sharing. He rejected the hard-liners' stance, saying they have nothing new to offer. At the heart of this bitter debate is whether to accept a disarmament offer made this month by the Irish Republican Army (I-R-A). The I-R-A is putting its weapons in secure storage with international monitors checking to make sure the arms remain locked away. Mr. Trimble is in favor of putting the I-R-A's offer to the test. If the council vote goes his way, Britain will then move swiftly to restore a power-sharing regional executive that was suspended early this year. The suspension came because the I-R-A had so far failed to disarm as it had promised to do under terms of the 1998 Good Friday peace accord.

    /// TRIMBLE ACT ///

    And we'll endeavor to present such a clear choice before the party, because we do think that this is an important stage, there is an opportunity here to make real progress, progress toward peace, toward putting in place accountable democracy, toward the securing of the union in the way we believe we have.

    /// END ACT ///

    But critics such as Unionist Jeffrey Donaldson say they do not trust the I-R-A and do not want to share power with its political wing, Sinn Fein, until the I-R-A does more to disarm. He presented Mr. Trimble Friday with alternative plans for disarmament and devolution, or home rule.

    /// DONALDSON ACT ///

    What we have done is to put forward an alternative set of proposals to be considered tomorrow by the delegates as they meet, which address specifically the issues of devolution and the issues of disarmament.

    /// END ACT ///

    Both sides have now made their positions clear and it remains for the Ulster Union Council to make its decision. (Signed) NEB/EH/JWH/ENE/JP 26-May-2000 13:34 PM EDT (26-May-2000 1734 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [05] NORTHERN IRELAND (L) BY EVANS HAYS (LONDON)

    DATE=5/26/2000
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-262840
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: Northern Ireland Protestant leader David Trimble has called on his Ulster Unionist Party to agree on plans to restore a power-sharing government to the province. His remarks came less than 24 hours before a crucial party meeting that could determine if peace and self-government can survive in Northern Ireland. As VOA's Evans Hays reports from London, Mr. Trimble was speaking after a meeting with his chief critic, hard-line Unionist Jeffrey Donaldson, who says Catholic guerrillas must first start disarming.

    TEXT: Mr. Trimble wasted no time in making clear he rejected all hard-line efforts to delay a decision on this month's disarmament plan submitted by the Irish Republican Army (I-R-A). If the Unionists approve the plan, Britain is expected to move swiftly to restore a power-sharing Executive in Northern Ireland. Belfast's home-rule government was suspended in February, because the I-R-A failed to start disarming under the 1998 Good Friday peace accord. The I-R-A has since agreed to put its weapons in hidden depots that will be monitored by international observers. Mr. Trimble says this is a good start and it is time to put the I-R-A's promise to the test. Hard-liners, such as Mr. Donaldson, reject the I-R-A offer as too little. He said after Friday's meeting that power-sharing must come later, after the I-R-A proves it has truly given up its weapons. Mr. Trimble says the time for moving forward is now, not later.

    /// Trimble Act ///

    But at that meeting tomorrow, we have to appreciate that the time will come for decisions and when it comes to decisions it's best to have clear choices. And we'll endeavor to present such a clear choice before the party because we do think that this is an important stage, there is an opportunity here to make real progress, progress toward peace, toward putting in place accountable democracy, towards the securing of the union in the way we believe we have.

    /// End Act ///

    Mr. Trimble says he hopes the I-R-A will honor the pledge it has given to begin a process that will completely and verifiably put its weapons out of use.

    /// 2nd Trimble Act ///

    We think the best way of achieving that is indeed to proceed to reform the administration and that is the proposal we will put to our party council tomorrow and is a proposal we hope will be endorsed.

    /// End Act ///

    Mr. Trimble said he hopes that if the proposal is adopted, the party will demonstrate unity after the meeting.

    /// OPT ////// 3rd Trimble Act ///

    And we hope, too, that if it is endorsed, that bearing in mind what I've said about the need to increase confidence within the party. But bearing that in mind, I hope this time we will see the concern that Jeffrey (Donaldson) displayed this morning for party unity reflected after the meeting and that we will see the party unite in support of the policy that the party will have adopted and we hope that this time the lessons of the damage disunity causes will have been learned.

    /// End Act ////// END OPT ///

    Although observers say Mr. Trimble appears to be gaining the upper hand as the Belfast meeting draws near, few are willing to bet on the outcome. (Signed)
    NEB/EH/GE/KBK 26-May-2000 09:13 AM LOC (26-May-2000 1313 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [06] ULSTER / MAGINNIS BY EVANS HAYS (LONDON)

    DATE=5/26/2000
    TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT
    NUMBER=5-46390
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: In Northern Ireland, the largely-Protestant Ulster Unionist Party is facing the difficult choice of whether to accept an Irish Republican Army offer of disarmament, a move that will lead to restoration of a power-sharing government with Catholics. It is also a move that is bitterly opposed by hard-liners. V-O-A's Evans Hays spoke (by telephone) with Ken Maginnis, a Unionist Party spokesman and a long-time activist in the politics of Northern Ireland. Mr. Maginnis is guardedly optimistic about the future, but says deep fears in the community still must be overcome.

    TEXT: Asked to predict the outcome of the Ulster Unionist Council vote Saturday in Belfast, Mr. Maginnis says he is reasonably sure that party leader David Trimble, who favors power-sharing now, will win the day. He says Mr. Trimble has worked hard to represent the entire community, a stance that he says has caused problems for those he describes as less generous. Mr. Maginnis says, while he hopes for a "yes" vote, he understands there are many people who are afraid the Irish Republican Army may still cling to violence.

    /// 1ST MAGINNIS ACT ///

    Well, I certainly don't want to be a prophet of doom, and I don't think anyone else should, and I think people have got to understand the depth and the length of time that the problem has existed. It's been something -- I'm a man in my early 60's -- it's a problem that's been with me all my life. It's been a problem that has been exacerbated by the violence of the last 30 years. And hence there are people who bluntly are afraid, who believe the I-R-A's own propaganda, that it will never change. // OPT
    // In other words, when they talk about their aspiration and their dedication to that aspiration of a united Ireland, many see it as going hand in hand with a dedication to the violence that has accompanied that aspiration for the past three decades. // END OPT //

    /// END ACT ///

    Many hard-liners do not believe the I-R-A disarmament offer is genuine. One paramilitary group, the Ulster Freedom Fighters, is among the latest to reject the I-R-A offer. Mr. Maginnis says much of this opposition stems from the long history of violence in Northern Ireland.

    /// 2ND MAGINNIS ACT ///

    Well, I think there are a number of points there that are important. First and foremost, you've got to recognize that in a culture that has had violence for 30 years, there is an underlying Mafia-type ethos and hence there will be people who will be guarding their own patch, their own selfish interest. I don't think that when you quote that particular group, it will carry a huge amount of weight with the average Ulster Unionist or indeed the Protestant population of Northern Ireland. They abhor that sort of attitude and have never voted for them.

    /// END ACT ///

    Mr. Maginnis says if he could have his way, all the weapons and illegal organizations in Northern Ireland would simply disappear. But he says he knows this will not happened because of the climate of fear in both communities. Many Protestants, he says, fear the I-R-A's record of violence. But he adds that Catholics also fear that Protestants will not honor their end of the peace bargain.

    /// OPT 3RD ACT ///

    That's something that David Trimble has been very keen, has gone out of his way to try to disprove. And I think if you took the wide middle ground in Northern Ireland, I think most people expect unionists to honor their word and recognize that they cannot ignore the 40 percent of the population who are generally nationalist in outlook, nor would they expect nationalists to continue to use violence to prove their point.

    /// END ACT ////// END OPT ///

    Mr. Maginnis says he tries to be optimistic about the situation in Northern Ireland, but wishes more moderates would become politically active.

    /// OPT 4TH ACT ///

    Sometimes one's mood changes. Sometimes it's hard to be optimistic all the time. But yes, I have a degree of optimism, I believe that we cannot go on and on and on with the two sections of this community -- a very normal community in other respects, a community where people are concerned with jobs, their education, their health status and the environment. I cannot believe that those two sections of the community cannot find more in common than they have to keep them apart. Therein the hope lies. I just wish that more people who are well intentioned would involve themselves politically so that we're not constantly under pressure from the extremes within our society, but rather that the center ground would assert itself. I think that can happen on Saturday.

    /// END ACT ////// END OPT ///

    Mr. Maginnis says if the well-intentioned people take action, the two parts of the Northern Ireland community can live as one. (Signed)
    NEB/EH/GE/WTW 26-May-2000 12:09 PM EDT (26-May-2000 1609 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [07] NY ECON WRAP (S&L) BY ELAINE JOHANSON (NEW YORK)

    DATE=5/26/2000
    TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
    NUMBER=2-262862
    CONTENT=
    VOICED AT:

    INTRO: U-S stock prices were lower today (Friday) - though modestly - in a lackluster trading session before a long weekend. The stock market is closed Monday for the Memorial Day holiday. VOA correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 24 points, a fractional loss, to 10-thousand-299. The Standard and Poor's 500 index lost three points. The technology-weighted Nasdaq composite closed down less than a point. It has been a tough five days on Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrials closed the week three percent lower. The Nasdaq lost over five percent. Most analysts expect the market eventually to rebound because it is fundamentally sound. So is the U-S economy.

    ///BEGIN OPT///

    Investment strategist Charles Pradilla calls the downturn a healthy correction after many months of robust, even exuberant gains:

    ////PRADILLA ACT///

    Well, I think we're in a very lengthy process of healing some of the excesses that were built up in 1999 and the year 2000. And I'm afraid we're not going to get instant gratification. That said, though, what's going on is extraordinarily healthy for the long-term health of the market and patience is required. But after this "bottoming" is over, I think we're going to be in great shape.

    ///END ACT///

    ///END OPT///

    The latest on the U-S economy shows orders for durable goods - big items - fell an unexpected six-point-four percent in April - the lowest level in almost a decade. Personal spending, which has been dropping over the last four months, was up just four-tenths of one percent. Some experts think rising interest rates may finally be slowing the economy down.

    /// REST OPT for long ///

    Shares of U-S telephone giant A-T and T edged higher, after the U-S Justice Department approved its takeover of cable T-V company MediaOne. A-T and T will now control about one-third of cable T-V lines in the United States. The acquisition is part of A-T and T's plan to re- invent itself into a telephone, cable and Internet delivery company. It now appears Thursday's report of a three-way breakup of Microsoft is out-of-date. The U-S government is back to a two-way split in its anti- trust action against the software company. With all its troubles, Microsoft's gains in market value last year have been totally wiped out. Microsoft shares are trading at about one-half of their all-time high. (Signed) NEB/NY/EJ/LSF/ENE/PT 26-May-2000 16:50 PM EDT (26-May-2000 2050 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America

    [08] FRIDAY'S EDITORIALS BY ANDREW GUTHRIE (WASHINGTON)

    DATE=5/26/2000
    TYPE=U-S EDITORIAL DIGEST
    NUMBER=6-11839
    EDITOR=ASSIGNMENTS
    TELEPHONE=619-3335
    CONTENT=

    INTRO: The congressional vote to normalize trade with China dominates the editorial columns of the U-S press this Friday, as the nation begins its three-day Memorial Day weekend. The holiday (on Monday), which also begins the summer vacation season here, honors those who died in U-S military service during armed conflicts. The border war in the Horn of Africa is another popular topic, as is a huge, proposed U-S airline merger. There are other editorials on the presidential debate about U-S global security; Peru's pending run-off [second-round] presidential election, which will have only one candidate; and Chile's move toward belated justice for former dictator Augusto Pinochet. Now, here with a closer look and some excerpts is __________ and today's U-S Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: The U-S House of Representatives vote Wednesday afternoon to normalize trade relations with China, rather than review them annually, is drawing a good deal of comment from around the country. In the Pacific Ocean island state of Hawaii, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin says the move "will benefit U-S exports to China and could strengthen Washington's ability to influence Chinese policies."

    VOICE: The wisest policy for the United States is to engage China more deeply in trade and diplomatic relations, in the hope that such engagement may help to moderate China's objectionable behavior.

    TEXT: The Oklahoman, in Oklahoma City, is skeptical rather than pleased, wondering: "What's to keep China in check now?":

    VOICE: We can't say for sure that giving Communist China normal trade privileges will fail to help freedom spread in that brutally totalitarian regime. Nor can we be certain it will fail to reduce the threat posed by China toward the United States and its allies, especially Taiwan. We can say we hope backers of permanent normal trade relations are right -- because Wednesday's vote in the House ... and the one likely to follow in the Senate ... will take away one of the last tools available to the U-S to leverage the Chinese.

    /// OPT ///

    TEXT: In Ohio, the Akron Beacon Journal is pleased the bill passed, but feels President Clinton's claims for the measure, and his support, were both hypocritical and somewhat exaggerated.

    VOICE: [President] Clinton, in attempting to rally and prepare the country, has tended to over-sell the impact of a single trade agreement. The cumulative effect of wider trade is positive, the direction beneficial in the long run. ... [However,] the Chinese can be expected to be vexing. Confrontations are likely to surface over human rights and saber- rattling toward Taiwan. What is decisive is the Chinese willingness to join the World Trade Organization, to play by international rules that encourage openness and exchange.

    TEXT: The Beacon Journal chides Mr. Clinton for virtually ignoring fears that human rights in China will suffer from the bill's passage. And in New Jersey's capital, The [Trenton] Times urges the Senate to follow the lead of the House and make "the right decision on China" next month.

    VOICE: China has indeed been isolated for years, in an estrangement of its own making. Now, however, it is asking to join the international community. For the United States to reject that request would be a great mistake.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: We turn now to the Horn of Africa where renewed fighting has broken out between Ethiopia and Eritrea, over what appears to the U-S press as a barran swath of desert land on the two countries' ill-defined border. Today's Washington Post, noting current Ethiopian advances and the prospect of Ethiopia destroying Eritrea's military, says the West should have done more to head off this conflict.

    VOICE: Perhaps it was understandable -- even wise -- to have given [Eritrean President Isaias] Afwerki and [Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles] Zenawi a chance to work things out. But it's harder to comprehend why the United States and its allies took no steps to establish an international arms embargo or to shut off some one-billion dollars in World Bank loans to these two countries during the past two years -- a time when they were spending one-billion dollars on weapons for their new war.

    TEXT: The Wall Street Journal also despairs of the situation, suggesting it presents this dilemma for western policymakers: "How can they starve a war without fueling a famine?" The Journal then goes on to categorically agree with The Washington Post about the failure to stop the arms buildup.

    /// OPT ///

    VOICE: Western officials did nothing when satellite photos revealed that both Ethiopia and Eritrea were girding for a fight. Intelligence agencies tracked the movement of warplanes, tanks, howitzers, helicopters and shoulder- launched missiles from Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, China and North Korea. If the United Nations ever intended to impose sanctions for arms-control violations, last year's arms avalanche would have been justification enough.

    /// END OPT ///

    TEXT: The big domestic item of discussion today is the potential airline merger between the nation's biggest carrier, United Airlines, and U-S Airways, the sixth-largest airline. Several cities served principally by one of those airlines are worried about their future service. In Pittsburgh, the Post-Gazette is concerned:

    VOICE: The chairmen of both companies ... portrayed the proposed purchase in soothing terms. They said the two airlines' route systems make a perfect fit, with little overlap. ... Then they said everyone at U-S Airways would be guaranteed a job for at least two years. But then what? We're sure that most American workers want to be employed for longer than two years. ... On this key point, the chairmen of the airlines have to do better. ... In the end, which won't come for several years, Pittsburgh may well be better for United's purchase of U-S Airways. But it's difficult to be completely confident of that right now.

    TEXT: In Cleveland, Ohio, much less affected because neither airline is a major carrier there, The Plain Dealer says:

    VOICE: The proposed acquisition ... should invite tough scrutiny by the [U-S] Justice and Transportation departments.

    TEXT: Turning to the U-S presidential campaign, the Republican candidate, Texas Governor George W. Bush, has spelled out his views on national security. Mr. Bush's comments prompted this reply from The Boston Globe:

    VOICE: [Governor] Bush might be tantalizingly vague about some matters, but the issues he addressed concern the gravest responsibilities of a commander-in-chief. As [Mr.] Bush properly noted, there is a need to question premises of the nation's nuclear doctrine that have remained largely unchanged and unexamined since the sudden end of the Cold War. One Bush proposal on nuclear missiles that could greatly enhance the security of Americans is his intention to "remove as many weapons as possible from high- alert, hair-trigger status."

    TEXT: The New York Times is pleased that both Governor Bush and Vice President Al Gore have begun to explore these issues.

    VOICE: America's security will be best protected if the next president moves boldly to cut nuclear arms without suddenly overturning the carefully-calibrated balance between offensive and defensive weapons that has long been central to preserving the peace.

    TEXT: Quickly now to Latin America, where Peruvians are to vote this Sunday in the second round of their presidential election - which the U-S press sees as an exercise in futility rather than democracy. The Hartford [Connecticut] Courant is disappointed that challenger Alejandro Toledo has dropped out of his opposition to the incumbent Alberto Fujimori, because Mr. Toledo fears the balloting will be rigged.

    VOICE: Having gotten this far, one would think ... Mr. Toledo would stay in the race. But he has given up. // OPT // The challenger said he won't participate in Sunday's contest because there's no guarantee that the fraudulent tactics used in the first election won't be repeated.

    // END OPT //

    His boycott [of the second-round of the vote], he explained, is ... civil disobedience. ... By urging his followers to demonstrate instead of to vote, Mr. Toledo heightens the likelihood of violent confrontation with government forces and subverts the democratic principles ... he says he wants to restore.

    TEXT: Nearby, in Chile, a Santiago court has stripped former military dictator Augusto Pinochet of his immunity from prosecution as a senator for life. In Nebraska, Omaha's World-Herald feels this will be a better solution, than a human rights trial in Spain -- the scenario that appeared likely last year, after General Pinochet was placed under house arrest for almost two years in Britain on a Spanish arrest warrant.

    VOICE: A Chilean resolution, even if the result isn't globally pleasing, could be better -- indeed healthier -- for Chilean society than to have its prerogatives snatched away by Spain. [General] Pinochet, if he is to be judged at all in this life, should face his countrymen, not a court of strangers halfway around the world.

    TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of comments from Friday's U-S press.
    NEB/ANG/WTW 26-May-2000 11:32 AM EDT (26-May-2000 1532 UTC)
    NNNN
    Source: Voice of America


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