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World briefs 01/22/02

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

France hints it may veto resolution against Iraq

UNITED NATIONS -- France told the Security Council there is no reason yet for military action against Iraq, hinting it may veto any U.N. resolution authorizing an attack, in a preview of what will likely be a clash with the United States in the coming weeks.

The United States and Britain lined up against France, China and Germany in a confrontation over the Iraq issue during a gathering of 13 foreign ministers at the Security Council on Monday.

Russia, Chile and Syria on Tuesday backed the French contention that inspectors must be given more time.

"I think the sense of the council is that the majority is against military action," Russia's deputy U.N. ambassador Gennady Gatilov told The Associated Press.

He said inspections are going on and a 10-point joint statement from Iraq and U.N. inspectors issued Monday shows that the "Iraqis expressed their goodwill for further cooperation with the inspectors."

Afghan chief justice bans foreign cable TV

KABUL, Afghanistan -- In a move reminiscent of the ousted Taliban, Afghanistan's chief justice has stopped cable TV broadcasts, complaining of images that violate Islamic morals.

Chief Justice Fazl Hadi Shinwari told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he issued the ban, which took effect over the weekend, after a group of citizens said they were outraged by images of scantily clad women and men.

"Negative programs, such as prostitution and nudity, I don't want such TV in this country," said Shinwari.

Cable networks in Afghanistan typically carry many international channels, including Italian, French and German stations, as well as sports and movie channels and news networks like CNN and the British Broadcasting Corp.

The Taliban banned all television and music, saying it was against Islamic teachings. The Taliban were driven from power by a U.S.-led assault in late 2001.

Shinwari said programs with women and men together were acceptable if they were informative and entertaining.

Head of Russian TV network to step down

MOSCOW -- American financier Boris Jordan said Tuesday he intends to resign as head of Russia's NTV television less than two years after assuming control of the network in a battle marked by accusations of Kremlin meddling.

Jordan, who is of Russian descent, said he made the decision after being fired last week as manager of the state-connected media company that owns the station. He refused to speculate on the reasons behind his firing from the media company.

"I consider it impossible to continue fulfilling my duties as general director of NTV," Jordan told reporters in Moscow. "I state my readiness to leave the post."

Observers have suggested Jordan was being punished for NTV's assertive coverage of last October's hostage crisis, in which Chechen rebels seized a Moscow theater, taking hundreds captive.

Others have said the Kremlin is seeking to rein in NTV, the nation's third-largest network, ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for December and presidential elections next March.

Small fuel tanker sinks off southern coast of Spain

MADRID, Spain -- A barge loaded with nearly 270,000 gallons of light fuel oil sank Tuesday a mile off Spain's southern coast, threatening more ecological damage even as workers continued to clean up a catastrophic oil spill in the north.

The Spabunker IV developed a leak in stormy weather in Algeciras Bay near Gibraltar, officials said. The body of the captain, Miguel Roig, was found hours later; two crew members were rescued.

Some of the 94,500 gallons of the barge's own diesel fuel leaked as it sank but none of its cargo was detected in the water, according to the Spanish energy company CEPSA.

Anti-pollution ships cleaned up some of the diesel, Development Minister Francisco Alvarez Cascos said. He gave no figures on the amount leaked, but state radio said the spill was about a half-mile long.

-- From wire reports


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