Newsletter : 6fax0805.txt
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Syria Wins an Olympic Gold Medal
The first Arab athlete to win a gold medal at the Olympics is a
national hero in syria. Ghada Shoua-a won top honors in the
Heptathlon event. Syria is planning a hero's red-carpet welcome
for her. One high school graduate, herself a runner, says Ghada's
win is important for Syria's image in the West. "We are not
terrorists," she says. "We are a people looking for peace." Another
sports fan says Syria's win at the Olympics shows the world that
the Middle East is not only about hatred and violence.
King Hussein Meets With Assad
By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Damascus)
Jordan's King Hussein was in Syria Saturday for several hours of
private talks with President Hafez al Assad as part of a
reconciliation effort between the two leaders. Relations have been
tense since Jordan signed a separate peace with Israel two years
ago. The talks are in part focussing on how to get Syria and Israel
back to the negotiating table after nearly six months of
Jordan has already signed a peace accord with the Jewish state.
That separate agreement, signed two years ago, angered Assad and
soured relations between the neighbors. Assad and King Hussein held
their first face-to-face meeting in three years last June on the
sidelines of the Arab summit in Cairo. Now both leaders are part
of a greater Arab effort at coordination in the face of a new
hardline government in Israel.
King Hussein's visit, one week after Palestinian leader Yasir
Arafat is yet another significant symbol of that new found
Germany May Seek Priebke's Extradition
By George Meek (VOA-Rio de Janeiro)
Former Nazi Capt. Erich Priebke has appealed a decision by
Argentina to bar him from returning there. Priebke is in Rome,
awaiting possible extradition to Germany after an Italian court
decided not to prosecute him for war crimes.
Germany says it might press for the extradition of a former Nazi.
A spokesman for the German Justice Ministry said he expects the
government will go ahead and apply for the extradition of Priebke
Argentine Interior Minister Carlos Corach says his government
respects Italy's decision in Priebke's favor, but deeply regrets
it. He says on express orders of President Carlos Menem, Priebke
will not be allowed to re-enter Argentina because it could lead
to civil unrest.
Priebke's lawyer, Pedro Bianchi, filed a motion to have the order
revoked, calling it an arbitrary measure based on political
considerations. Bianchi said the former Nazi has been a model
citizen in Argentina for nearly 50 years. The ban was announced
after leaders of Argentina's large Jewish community strongly
protested the decision of the Italian court.
Last Thursday, the court decided not to prosecute Priebke for his
role in the slaying of 335 civilians in caves near Rome in 1944.
He admitted taking part in the massacre, but said he was acting on
orders. The Italians were killed in reprisal for the slaying of 33
German soldiers by partisans. Argentine Foreign Minister Guido di
Tella called Priebke a repugnant character. He says Argentina has
received immigrants with open arms, but is not prepared to accept
criminals. Several Nazis,including Holocaust architect Adolph
Eichmann, hid in Argentina after World War 2.
Priebke was extradited to Italy last November, after living quietly
under his own name in the southern Argentine city of Bariloche
since 1948. His family expressed satisfaction that charges against
him were dropped in Rome, but disappointment that he will not be
allowed to return to Argentina.
Priebke was interviewed in his jail cell by Turin's La Stampa
newspaper and blamed the Jews for his problems. "I believe they're
against me because I've become a symbol -- perhaps the last Nazi to be
tried for World War 2 crimes. I'm the last survivor. I'm the last of
Cabinet Says Yes to West Bank Settlements
By Patricia Golan (VOA-Jerusalem)
Israel's government has decided to ease building restrictions in
Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Cabinet
was vague on how much construction it will permit. This is the
first decision on the issue of settlements in the disputed areas by
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new government.
The decision reverses the previous Labor government's ban on
construction in the territories, and frees for occupancy thousands
of apartments already constructed. However, all new construction
plans must be approved by Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai, and
must be in line with the state budget.
Netanyahu says that he wants to correct what he calls past
discrimination against Jewish settlements by the previous
government which had curbed construction as part of its peace talks
with the Palestinians. But the decision is far less than what the
settlers themselves want.
The 144 settlements -- home to 140,000 Jews -- are viewed by the 2
million Palestinians in the territories as an obstacle to peace.
Palestinians say any settlement expansion will violate the peace
agreements signed by Israel and would endanger future negotiations.
The fact that any specific expansion will require government
approval seems to be an attempt to satisfy the settlers, without
angering the United States or Israel's Arab peace partners.
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