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Archive for Monday, June 10, 2002

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June 10, 2002

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Uzbekistan: Nerve gas contamination found at U.S. air base

Investigators found traces of nerve agents and mustard gas at a U.S. base in Uzbekistan and are investigating whether any of the thousands of troops who have passed through were exposed, U.S. military officials said Sunday.

So far, no American soldiers have reported symptoms of exposure, U.S. Col. Roger King said.

The contamination at Khanabad air base, near the city of Karshi, was thought to be from chemical weapons stored there by the former Soviet Union, King said. Uzbekistan became independent in 1991.

Afghanistan: Loya jirga opening delayed

The timing for the start of the loya jirga, the grand council called to set up a new government and give war-weary Afghans a chance at lasting peace, was thrown into doubt Sunday because of differences over the role of the country's former king.

Afghan interim leader Hamid Karzai was meeting late Sunday with former monarch Mohammad Zaher Shah to try to work out a compromise that would satisfy former northern alliance leaders, who do not want any role for the ex-king, diplomatic sources said.

The diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said former northern alliance leaders were seeking guarantees that the ex-king will not have any role in the government that is selected by the delegates meeting during the next six days in Kabul.

Apparently as a result of the dispute, the start of the loya jirga was postponed from this morning until later in the afternoon.

Venezuela: Carter accepts invitation to mediate post-coup talks

Former President Carter accepted Venezuela's invitation to mediate talks between the government and opposition, which aim to restore stability following a failed coup, Venezuela's vice president said Sunday.

"Ex-President Jimmy Carter told me that he has instructed his office to touch base with Venezuela and organize his visit," Jose Vicente Rangel told state news agency Venpres.

Rangel said that a delegation from the Georgia-based Carter Center would visit Venezuela in two weeks.

Venezuela invited Carter last week, hoping to salvage flailing reconciliation talks with opposition leaders.

South Korea: Activists scuffle with police after worker's electrocution

Protesters kicked and punched police during a protest today over the death of a South Korean man who received an electric shock from power wires set up by the U.S. military.

About 300 demonstrators gathered in front of a hospital in north Seoul after a funeral service for Jeon Dong-rok, who died Thursday from his injuries.

The 55-year-old man was working at a construction site near the U.S. military base in Paju, 25 miles northeast of Seoul, when the metal sheet he was carrying brushed high-tension wires last July. He received a 22,000-volt shock.

Dozens of demonstrators scuffled with riot police, who prevented them from marching into the street with Jeon's coffin. No serious injuries were reported.

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