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World in brief

Sanctions on Syria advance in Congress

By Wire services
Published October 9, 2003

WASHINGTON - Congress stepped up pressure on Syria on Wednesday when a House panel endorsed diplomatic and economic sanctions against the country, accusing it of sponsoring terrorism and fostering turmoil in Iraq. The White House dropped its previous opposition to the sanctions plan.

"The time has come to hold Syria accountable for its actions," said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., as the International Relations Committee easily approved a proposal that allows the president to cut diplomatic contacts and block American investment if Syria supports groups involved in terror.

At the White House, the spokesman, Scott McClellan, said the administration would no longer resist the sanctions, as it had previously when it argued that it needed time for diplomacy to work and that Syria was helping apprehend terrorists. "We have repeatedly said that Syria is on the wrong side of the war on terrorism and that Syria needs to stop harboring terrorists," McClellan said.

U.S. gives 2 Cubans from truck-boat another chance

HAVANA - Two of the people who converted a 1951 Chevy pickup into a boat in a failed bid to reach American shores were granted interviews giving them a chance to get U.S. visas, one of the men said Wednesday.

Ariel Diego and Luis Grass received letters from the U.S. Interests Section inviting them to interviews on Dec. 3. Such interviews do not guarantee being granted a visa.

The U.S. Coast Guard sent the group back to Cuba in July after a U.S. Customs plane spotted their unusual truck-boat floating south of Key West in the Florida Straits.

Dozens die as rival Afghan factional leaders clash

KABUL, Afghanistan - Heavy fighting left dozens dead in the north on Wednesday as factional militias battled for control of a local district, officials there said.

The ethnic Tajik faction, Jamiat-i-Islami, reported 50 men killed or wounded, according to Wasiqullah, a spokesman for the group. The fighting broke out when an opposing ethnic Uzbek faction, Jumbeish-i-Milli, attacked the Tajik positions, he said.

The fighting, which occurred in Faizabad, west of Mazar-e-Sharif, stems from the rivalry of two factional leaders, the Uzbek general, Abdul Rashid Dostum, who is the representative of President Hamid Karzai in the north, and his Tajik rival, Gen. Atta Muhammad.

Pakistan again test-fires medium-range missile

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistan conducted its second nuclear-capable missile test in less than a week Wednesday, launching a medium-range rocket capable of hitting New Delhi and most other targets inside archrival India.

The army said it successfully test-fired the Hatf-4 missile, also known as the Shaheen 1, in the early morning hours. The missile has a range of 435 miles.

Elsewhere...

MORE QUAKES IN JAPAN: Several strong earthquakes, included one of magnitude 6.3, shook Japan's northern island of Hokkaido on Wednesday and today - the latest since a powerful temblor injured more than 700 people less than two weeks ago. There were no immediate reports of major damage.


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