Extracts.

India,  Pakistan Trade Fire Amid Confusing Signals.
 
Indian and Pakistani troops traded small-arms fire on Tuesday along their
tense frontier in Kashmir as Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee
raised hopes of avoiding an all-out war.

Indian and Pakistani troops traded small-arms fire on Tuesday along their
tense frontier in Kashmir as Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee
raised hopes of avoiding an all-out war.
An Indian defence official said both armies -- involved in a powerful
buildup along their border -- exchanged machine gun fire in several Kashmir
frontier areas overnight and into Tuesday.
The two nations have mobilised about a million troops along their border
from Kashmir in the Himalayas to the Arabian Sea after a bloody December
attack on India's parliament which New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based Muslim
militants fighting its rule in Kashmir.
India says it will not scale down its deployment until Pakistan ends support
for the militants. Pakistan denies sponsoring the groups and has banned
several. 
In Srinagar, summer capital of disputed Kashmir, Indian forces were locked
in a fierce gunbattle with rebels.
Police said the clash in a residential suburb began late on Monday night. In
October, 38 people died in a suicide bomb attack on the state assembly in
the city. 
Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said late on Monday he did not
expect the tensions with Pakistan to boil over into war, adding diplomatic
efforts were making some progress.

****


U.S. Still Open to Dialogues with Iran, DPRK: Spokesman.

The United States is still open for dialogues with Iran and the Democratic
People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) despite President George W. Bush's harsh
criticism of the two countries, the State Department said Wednesday.

The United States   is still open for dialogues with Iran  and the
Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) despite President George W.
Bush's harsh criticism of the two countries, the State Department said
Wednesday. 

"We have said that there are serious issues to discuss with North Korea
(DPRK), that we're ready to sit down and discuss those issues at any time,
any place," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told a regular
briefing. 

"We're prepared to discuss issues with other governments, including Iran,"
he said, noting that the U.S. has long-standing concerns to address.

But he added that the talks would only occur when the two countries were
willing to discuss with the U.S. about their weapons program and their
support for terrorism.

****



Iraq Rejects US Accusations on Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan on Wednesday strongly rejected the
accusations made by U.S. President George W. Bush who claimed that Iraq has
been seeking weapons of mass destruction.

Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan on Wednesday strongly rejected the
accusations made by U.S. President George W. Bush who claimed that Iraq has
been seeking weapons of mass destruction.

"Bush's statement is stupid and improper ... to judge the behaviour or
deportment of another country through guessing or imagination," Ramadan told
reporters after attending a gathering commemorating the outbreak of the 1991
Gulf War. 

Ramadan said that Bush tried to demonize Iraq by alleging that Iraq was
trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

"However, we think that the U.S. and the Zionist entity (Israel) are the
sources of evilness and aggression against Iraq, the Arab nation and the
world," Ramadan said.

Ramadan's strong remarks followed Bush's first State of the Union address on
Tuesday, in which he singled out Iraq, Iran  and the Democratic People's
Republic of Korea as pursuing weapons of mass destruction and vowed that the
U.S. would not permit these countries to threaten it with such weapons.

"By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and
growing danger," Bush said.

"Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror
... the Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax and nerve gas and
nuclear weapons for over a decade," Bush said.

Bush has warned Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to allows United Nations arms
inspectors back to his country or face the consequences.

U.N. arms inspectors have been barred from re-entering Iraq since the
U.S.-British air strikes against Iraq in December 1998.

As to the planned visit to Iraq by U.N. human rights investigator Andreas
Mavrommatis, Ramadan said that "we did not invite him. He wanted to visit
Iraq and we accepted that," adding that "he can view and give his opinion as
he likes." 

****



US Says No Imminent Military Action Against Iraq, Iran, DPRK.

The White House said Wednesday that a stern warning issued by President
George W. Bush to Iraq, Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
(DPRK) does not signal any imminent military action against the three
countries. 

The White House said Wednesday that a stern warning issued by President
George W. Bush to Iraq, Iran  and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
(DPRK) does not signal any imminent military action against the three
countries. 

In his first State of the Union address on Tuesday night, Bush labeled the
three countries as an "axis of evil," accusing them of developing weapons of
mass destruction to threaten the U.S. and its allies.

Fleischer told reporters that Bush "is not sending a signal that military
action is imminent."

"It's an expression of how serious the president takes protecting our
country. As the president said, time is not on our side. The president will
be deliberate," he added.

All of the three countries flatly rejected the U.S. accusations on
Wednesday. 

****


Iranian President Rejects Bush's Accusation.

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami on Wednesday rejected statements made by
U.S. President George W. Bush accusing Iran of attempting to develop weapons
of mass destruction, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami on Wednesday rejected statements made by
U.S. President George W. Bush accusing Iran of attempting to develop weapons
of mass destruction, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Khatami made the remarks during a cabinet meeting in a response to Bush's
"aggressive approach towards Iran during his first congressional address."

Bush, in his first televised State of the Union address on Tuesday, accused
Iran, along with Iraq   and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
(DPRK), of attempting to develop weapons of mass destruction.

Evaluating Bush's remarks as "intervening, warmongering, insulting, a
repetition of his past propagation, and worse than all, truly insulting
towards the Iranian nation," Khatami noted that the "great Iranian nation"
will never yield to arrogant demands of the foreigners although "we are
against warmongering and favor peace."

"Iran is both a victim of terrorism and a victim of chemical weapons, which
were generously donated to our enemies by those who were after uprooting the
Islamic revolution" and "Our nation has proved it is ready to pay the needed
cost for its independence, freedom and Islamic republic," He stressed.

Khatami noted that "we wholeheartedly believe that the sad September 11
incidents were a big crime committed against humanity. At the same time, the
role played by the wrong U.S. policies and the inappropriate stands adopted
by U.s. politicians in the past in paving the ground for the September 11
attacks and the great losses it inflicted on the U.S. nation should not be
ignored either." 

The American nation is a great nation that can play a decisive role in the
process of global move towards peace and advancement, but it should first
make clear that it does not favor those American politicians who propagate
for war and bloodshed in the name of peace, he added.

The Iranian president also condemned that "America insists on supporting the
Zionist regime that resorts to all types of crimes against the Palestinians
that are the most oppressed, most innocent nation in the world and spares no
efforts in doing so."

"The American support for the Zionists is more evident and more effective
than ever before in history today, while Israel  does not even deal
peacefully with the Palestinian authority, that is its own peace partner,"
he said. 

Khatami emphasized that "the world favors dialog and firm logic today and
such policies are doomed to failure" and "we hope for a comprehensive peace
at global level in the future."

****

China, Zambia Sign Construction Agreement.

China and Zambia Wednesday signed an 8.4 million U.S. dollar agreement for
the interior decorations of the Zambian government official complex.

China and Zambia   Wednesday signed an 8.4 million U.S. dollar agreement for
the interior decorations of the Zambian government official complex.

Shanghai   Construction Group delegation leader Tang Jun endorsed his
signature on behalf of the Chinese side, and Permanent Secretary of the
Zambian Works and Supply Ministry Gerald Nyirenda signed on behalf of the
Zambian government 

Speaking before the signing ceremony in Lusaka, Zambian Minister of Works
and Supply Ludwig Sondashi said that the agreement will go a long way in
alleviating the persistent problem of office accommodation, that the Zambian
government has been facing for years.

Sondashi commended China for the assistance, saying the agreement is a
reflection of the friendly relationship existing between the two countries.

He observed that China has assisted Zambia not only in facilitating
construction projects, but also in other key sectors such as health.

Sondashi noted that despite the fundamental economic and political
transformation that Zambia has experienced, China remains committed to
supporting Zambia to improve her infrastructure.

And Economic and Commercial Counselor at the Chinese Embassy Yu Shuqing
described the accord as a significant contribution that will go down in the
annals of Sino-Zambian relations.

He expressed optimism that the Shanghai Construction Group would do a
commendable job, as it is one of the biggest constructors in the world.

He also believed that the group, with the cooperation of the Zambian
government would complete the construction work on time, in view of the
expertise exhibited by the technicians.

The decoration work at the complex, which comprises six buildings including
the Lusaka Museum, would be completed in 14 months.

Tang Jun, who is also deputy Chief Economist of the group, said that his
company will provide "first grade quality and first grade progress to make
the complex a new first grade project in Zambia".


****
Yugoslavia Not to Be Divided: President.

Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica said on Wednesday that he was
confident about the talks between Montenegro and Serbia on their future
relations and that Yugoslavia will not be divided.

Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica said on Wednesday that he was
confident about the talks between Montenegro and Serbia on their future
relations and that Yugoslavia will not be divided.

Kostunica said leaders of the federal government and the two republics will
continue to meet with EU security and foreign policy chief Javier Solana on
the two republics' future relations after talks scheduled on February 4
between Yugoslav experts and their European Union (EU) counterparts.

The agreement between him and Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic to
conclude the talks at the end of February is of significance, Kostunica told
a regular press conference.

The statement issued by EU ministers two days ago and in which they
unequivocally reiterated their firm support for the continued existence of
Yugoslavia made him even more optimistic about the future of his country,
Kostunica said. 

Leaders of the Yugoslav federal government and the two republics met in
Belgrade last Friday to discuss the two republics ' future relationship.
Kostunica chaired the discussion and Solana was present.

Kostunica told reporters after the talks that the Yugoslav federal
government and the governments of Montenegro and Serbia will form a team of
experts who will hold discussions with their EU counterparts in Brussels on
February 4 on economic issues, the key aspect of the future
Montenegrin-Serbian relations.

Djukanovic, who participated in last Friday's talks, said he was satisfied
with the outcome of the talks. He expected the talks to be concluded at the
end of February. 



****

Three Nuke Power Plants Ready for Use This Year.
 
Three of China's four nuclear power plants under construction are expected
to begin operating this year, a Chinese nuclear official announced
Wednesday. 

Three of China's four nuclear power plants under construction are expected
to begin operating this year, a Chinese nuclear official announced
Wednesday. 
The first generating unit in the second-phase of the Qinshan Nuclear Power
Station in Haiyan County, east China's Zhejiang Province, went through
various tests last year. It is to be put into commercial use in June this
year. 
Work on the heavy-water reactor for the third phase of the Qinshan Nuclear
Power Station is well under way. Its first generating unit will be put into
operation by the end of the year.
Ling'ao Nuclear Power Plant, the second largest commercial nuclear power
plant to be built in Guangdong, will start operatingthis year.
In addition, major equipment in the Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant in east
China's Jiangsu Province will be installed this year. Earthworks for the
nuclear island of the second generating unit will be completed within the
year. 
By 2005, eight generating units with a combined capacity of 6.6 million
kilowatts, including those in the second and third phases of Qinshan,
Tianwan and Ling'ao nuclear power plants, are to become operational.
The two nuclear power plants already in operation are now working normally.
Nuclear power currently accounts for only 1 percent of China's power supply,
compared to 21.9 percent in the United States, 33.4 percent in Japan and
77.4 percent in France.
China's coastal areas, with their rapid economic growth over the last two
decades, are showing great interest in nuclear power.












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