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Mideast notebook

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 13, 2002


Annan wants peacekeepers in Middle East

Annan wants peacekeepers in Middle East

UNITED NATIONS -- In a sign of deepening concern about the threat of an expanding Middle East war, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged the Security Council on Friday to authorize an international force to oversee a cease-fire in the Palestinian territories.

"The situation is so dangerous and the humanitarian and human rights situation so appalling," said Annan, speaking in Geneva, that outside military intervention "can no longer be deferred."

U.N. officials said Annan, who has no power to send troops himself, envisioned a well-armed multinational force endorsed by but operating independently of the United Nations, with one nation volunteering to organize and command the troops.

"I am talking about a force that will help create a secure environment to allow for assistance, to allow us to be able to end the killing and give us time for negotiations and diplomacy," Annan said.

U.S. diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they needed to hear more details of Annan's proposal but wanted the immediate diplomatic focus to remain on Secretary of State Colin Powell's mission.

Saudi telethon raises $92-million

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- A Saudi telethon raised more than $92-million for the Palestinians by late Friday.

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, a billionaire investor, donated $27-million to the government-organized fundraiser. In October, he presented $10-million to a fund for Sept. 11 victims, but New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani refused the money after Alwaleed urged the United States to re-examine its Mideast policies.

In a statement Friday, Alwaleed said half his telethon pledge would help rebuild Palestinian infrastructure destroyed by Israeli forces, while the rest would be donated in the form of goods, including 100 vehicles and clothing.

The telethon, broadcast live by local and Saudi-owned satellite channels and expected to continue today, was ordered by King Fahd to help relatives of Palestinian "martyrs" -- a term that has been used by the Palestinians to include suicide bombers.

The Saudi government insisted the term referred not to suicide bombers but to "Palestinians who are victimized by Israeli terror and violence."

New name: 'homicide bombing'

WASHINGTON -- The White House has added a new term to its Middle East descriptions: homicide bombings. That's how White House spokesman Ari Fleischer has begun referring to bombing attacks in Israel, including one Friday.

"The president condemns this morning's homicide bombing," Fleischer said. He also called on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to "speak out and denounce today's homicide attack."

When asked why he used the term, Fleischer replied that it better captures the nature of the violence.

"These are not suicide bombings. These are not people who kill just themselves," Fleischer said. "These are people who deliberately go to murder others, with no regard to the values of their own life. These are murderers. ... And I think that it's just a more accurate description of what these people are doing."

Fox News Channel began using "homicide bombing" to refer to Friday's Jerusalem attack almost as soon as the news broke. Dennis Murray, executive producer of daytime programming, said executives there had heard the phrase being used by administration officials in recent days and thought it was a good idea.

CNN and MSNBC used "suicide bomber" to refer to Friday's attack. ABC News also plans to stick with "suicide bomber."

"We believe that is a more descriptive term," CNN spokeswoman Christa Robinson said. "A homicide bomber could refer to someone planting a bomb in a trash can."

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