In the war against terrorism in Afghanistan, battles are raging on multiple fronts. Insurgents killed two Afghans at a government military post near the former Taliban stronghold of Khost in the south-east late last week, hours after local militia showered 20 rockets on the city's airport, triggering fire from U.S. forces based nearby. Away from the front lines, efforts to halt Afghanistan's opium trade are failing. After taking office in 2001, Afghan President Hamid Karzai outlawed
One Step Closer
CYPRUS Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders meeting at U.N. headquarters agreed to begin formal talks in Nicosia this week to resolve the 30-year dispute that has divided the island. They hope to complete the talks by the end of March. Referenda will then be held based on the deal that emerges. If the outcomes are successful, Cyprus could be united when it enters the E.U. in May.
IRAN Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency uncovered blueprints for an undeclared uranium enrichment centrifuge capable of producing weapons-grade material. U.S. Under Secretary of State John Bolton accused Iran of unlawfully continuing its efforts to develop nuclear weapons, a charge that Iran denies.
INDONESIA Drawing fire from anticorruption campaigners, the Supreme Court quashed a corruption conviction against parliamentary speaker Akbar Tandjung, clearing the way for the head of the Golkar Party the country's second largest to enter the presidential race. Tandjung was handed a three-year jail term in 2002 after being found guilty of embezzling $4.5 million in state funds.
Up in Arms
SOUTH KOREA The National Assembly approved government plans to add a further 3,000 troops to around 600 already stationed in Iraq, the third-largest contribution to coalition forces after the U.S. and Britain. The move prompted angry clashes between police and antiwar campaigners in Seoul. The soldiers will be deployed in the northern city of Kirkuk beginning in April.
CANADA The Auditor General condemned the government's "blatant misuse of public funds" after it funneled more than $75 million from a public-advertising program to firms close to the ruling Liberals. Prime Minister Paul Martin Finance Minister during most of the six-year-long scheme denied he was party to it, and ordered a public inquiry.
MEANWHILE IN FINLAND ...
A Quick Earner
Speeding tickets can be such a nuisance. Take the one that Helsinki police slapped on 27-year-old Jussi Salonoja for driving double the legal 40 km/h limit. Since Finnish law links traffic fines to violators' income, and Salonoja is the heir to a family sausage empire, his fine was a record 3170,000. He made close to 37 million in 2002, but the penalty could be reduced if his income takes a hit before the case comes to trial. Early retirement has never seemed so tempting.