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Tourist, 19, flees captors in Colombia

By Wire services
Published September 25, 2003

SANTA MARTA, Colombia - A British tourist kidnapped 12 days ago in the mountains with seven other foreigners escaped Monday by sliding down a precipice and was fed by Indians before an army patrol found him Wednesday.

Matthew Scott, 19, of London evaded his captors during a forced walk through the thick jungles of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Gen. Carlos Alberto Ospina, commander of the Colombian army, told the Associated Press.

An exhausted Scott said from a hospital bed at a military base in Santa Maria, "I haven't eaten hardly anything for the last 12 days."

Camouflage-clad gunmen kidnapped Scott - along with another Briton, four Israelis, a German and a Spaniard - Sept. 12 from the Lost City, a pre-Columbian archaeological site in the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains.

Scott said he did not know which armed group his captors belonged to. Suspicion has centered on two leftist Colombian rebel groups who commonly take hostages for ransom.

Ospina said Scott has already provided information that enabled security forces to narrow their search for the remaining hostages.

Report: U.S. still leads in world arms sales

WASHINGTON - The United States maintained its dominance in the international arms market last year, especially in sales to developing nations, according to a new congressional report.

The United States was the leader in total worldwide sales in 2002, with about $13.3-billion, or 45.5 percent of global conventional weapons deals, a rise from $12.1-billion in 2001. Of that, $8.6-billion was to developing nations, or about 48.6 percent of conventional arms deals concluded with developing nations last year, the report stated.

Russia was second in sales to the developing world last year, with $5-billion, followed by France with $1-billion.

Iran holds out hope of cooperation with U.S.

NEW YORK - Iran is prepared to work with the United States on a range of issues, especially Iraq and Iran's nuclear activities, if Bush administration officials "change their approach and bring in a new environment for cooperation," Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said.

Kharrazi, who is in New York to attend the sessions of the U.N. General Assembly, said he is puzzled by U.S. officials' attitude toward Iran, which President Bush labeled part of an "axis of evil" in January 2002.

Before the Iraq war, the administration had sought Iran's cooperation and then abruptly ended the talks in May. Kharrazi said restarting the discussions would be beneficial for both nations.

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