|Sunday, 18 April 2021|
Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation: News in English, 99-12-14
From: The Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation at <http://www.cybc.com.cy/>
TUESDAY 14 DECEMBER 1999
 HEADLINES--- The first round of proximity talks on the Cyprus problem ends today in New York.
--- Israel and Syria will resume peace talks after a break of nearly four years. Cyprus has offered to host the talks.
--- Russia launched fierce attacks in southern Chechnya today.
--- Scientists will try to learn later this week what happened to the US Polar Lander, which disappeared on its trip to Mars.
--- Cyclone John is approaching Australia's northwest coast.
 TALKSThe first round of proximity talks on the Cyprus problem ends today in New York, with the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan holding separate meetings with President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.
Mr. Annan will meet with Mr. Denktash at 4:45 this afternoon, and with President Clerides an hour later.
The UN chief is expected to urge the two leaders to respond positively to an invitation for further talks in January.
President Clerides departs from new York this evening, and is expected to return to the island on Thursday.
 DENKTASHMr. Denktash said that his return to a second round of talks would depend on how the resolution renewing the UNFICYP mandate views the Turkish Cypriots.
The Turkish Cypriot leader refrained from saying what he would like the resolution to include.
 RESOLUTIONDiscussions continue today at UN headquarters on the renewal of the UNFICYP mandate.
The resolution is expected to be adopted tomorrow.
Diplomatic sources in New York said that President Clerides has expressed concern over the draft resolution and pointed out that it should include a reference to the parametres of a Cyprus settlement.
On the other hand, Mr. Denktash has threatened that he will not return for a second round of proximity talks, if the resolution makes reference to the Republic of Cyprus.
 MIDEASTIsraeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak left Israel today for landmark peace talks with Syria that will resume in Washington after a break of nearly four years.
The US-sponsored talks between Mr. Barak and Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al-Shara tomorrow and Thursday will be at the highest level between the two countries in more than half a century.
They will hinge on the fate of the strategic Golan Heights, which Israel occupied in the 1967 Middle East war.
Syria insists that Israel should withdraw fully from the heights in return for peace.
Israel says the extent of a withdrawal should depend on the nature of security arrangements and normalisation of ties.
In Washington, US State Department spokesman James Foley cautioned against expecting a breakthrough at this week's talks, which will be hosted by US President Bill Clinton and are the first between Israel and Syria since March 1996.
 CYPRUS MIDEASTMeanwhile, Cyprus has offered to host the Middle East peace talks.
Reactions from Israel and Syria indicate that the proposal will probably be accepted.
 RUSSIARussia launched fierce attacks in southern Chechnya on a gorge leading to rebel strongholds, while its troops were reported today to be sweeping through the key northern town of Shali.
Russian forces have begun a clean-up operation in Shali, the last major lowland town to fall to Moscow's advancing troops apart from the capital Grozny. Chechen fighters said they left the town on Friday.
The head of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe arrived, meanwhile, in a province neighbouring breakaway Chechnya and urged both sides to declare a truce to let residents escape the besieged capital.
Shells tore into the village of Chiri-Yurt at the mouth of the Argun River gorge leading into the mountains 20 km south of Grozny after dusk yesterday, shooting clouds of orange smoke into the sky and sending panicked residents scurrying for cover.
A powerful bomb exploded at midnight in an apartment block in Russia's second biggest city, but no one was hurt.
The bomb exploded in a lift between the sixth and eighth floors and Police experts at the site of the blast categorically deny it was a terrorist act.
They think it was an act of hooliganism or a settling of accounts between rival bandit gangs.
Moscow blamed Chechen rebels for four bomb attacks earlier this year that destroyed apartment blocks in Moscow and other Russian cities, killing nearly 300 people.
The latest St Petersburg blast wrecked the lift and demolished several walls inside the building. About 100 residents were evacuated to a nearby hotel.
St Petersburg, Russia's imperial capital, has acquired a reputation for violent crime related to business and politics.
 WORLD IN BRIEFAnd now for a look at developments around the world in brief.
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Japan said it would lift all sanctions against North Korea, setting the stage for the historical foes to discuss for the first time in seven years how to improve chilly bilateral ties.
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The German government's chief negotiator in talks to set up a compensation fund for Nazi-era slave labourers said he expected a deal this week on how much would go into the fund.
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In New Mexico, a federal judge ordered fired government scientist Wen Ho Lee, charged with illegally taking US nuclear weapons secrets, to be kept in jail without bond as a clear and present danger to US security.
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An UN official said that improved harvests and donations have eased North Korea's food shortage, but dire fuel and medicine shortfalls haunt the population as winter descends upon the impoverished state.
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Romanian Prime Minister Radu Vasile was ousted by a revolt in his own Christian Democrat party spurred by discontent over slow economic reform and hopes that fresh leadership can speed admission to the European Union.
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Britain and the United States attempt again to schedule a critical Security Council vote on future Iraqi policy that could return arms inspectors to Baghdad and suspend stringent UN sanctions.
 SPACEScientists will try to learn later this week whether the ill-fated Mars Polar Lander landed on the Martian surface even though they have not been able to make direct contact with the spacecraft.
The Mars Global Surveyor, currently orbiting the red planet, will begin using its powerful camera on Thursday in an effort to locate the spindly, three-legged lander.
The 165 million dollar Mars Polar Lander was supposed to have landed on the planet's south pole on December 3 to probe the barren Martian surface for signs of water -- which, if found, could have provided vital clues on whether life ever existed there.
But the lander has not been heard from since it made its final approach toward the planet -- so far failing to signal that it has landed safely on the Martian surface.
 CYCLONECyclone John powered towards Australia's northwest coast today, forcing oil fields and iron-ore ports to shut down and the small town of Karratha to brace for destructive winds and flooding.
The storm, about 225 kilometres off the coast, is intensifying and the Bureau of Meteorology said it might upgrade the tropical storm to a top category five, with destructive winds of more than 280 kilometres per hour.
A Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre officer said the storm was moving at 15 kph towards the coast and could cause destruction similar to last year's Cyclone Vance, one of the most powerful cyclones to hit the Australian coast.
Cyclone John is forecast to be near the Western Australia coast tomorrow morning and expected to cross land near Karratha, which has a population of about 6,000 people. Coastal residents have been warned to be prepared for dangerous storm tides, flooding and destructive winds.
 STOCKThe Cyprus Stock Exchange general price index dropped today by 18 units, closing at 713 units, compared to 731 yesterday.
Total dealings reached 26 million pounds, compared to 21 million yesterday.
 HEROINThe Police found two-and-a-half kilos of heroin in the luggage of a Persian woman, who was ready to fly to Canada.
The woman was arrested and questioned, but has so far refused to say who provided her with the drugs.
 WEATHERThis afternoon will be unsettled with local showers.
Winds will be southwesterly, moderate to strong, four to five beaufort, and the sea will be moderate.
Tonight will be cloudy at times, with a few showers, but skies will clear later on.
Winds will be westerly, moderate, three beaufort, and the sea will be slight to moderate.
The temperature will drop to 8 degrees inland, to 11 along the coast, and to 0 over the mountains.
The fire hazard is moderate in all forest areas.