2 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, January 21, 2005
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BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP)
- The U.S. military - the largest
group helping tsunami survivors -
will immediately start withdrawing
troops from the relief efforts to feed
and house more than 1 million refu-
gees, the U.S. Pacific commander
Aid organizations responded to
the announcement by Adm. Thom-
as Fargo by pledging to shoulder a
greater share of the burden to aid
U.S. warships and helicopters
"played a crucial role ... they're still
playing that role," said Rob Holden,
who heads a health assessment team
from the United Nations, the U.S.
military and other groups. "What
we're trying to do ... is civilianize
the humanitarian operations because
we're aware that we won't have mili-
tary assets forever."
Speaking in Kuala Lumpur, Malay-
sia, Fargo said the U.S. military "will
start right now transferring functions to
the appropriate host nations and inter-
Fargo noted that the human itar-
ian missions in Indonesia, India, Sri
Lanka, Thailand and other countries
affected by the Dec. 26 tsunami have
moved from the "immediate relief
phase ... toward rehabilitation and
The admiral suggested the with-
drawal of the 15,000 American
troops would be completed within
60 days, apparently meeting requests
by Indonesian officials that for-
eign troops leave Aceh province on
Sumatra island by the end of March.
Malaysian Defense Minister Najib
Razak said Fargo told him the United
States would scale down its Aceh relief
operations by the end of February.
At a news conference, Fargo said
the U.S. military would "respond to
specific requests of host nations,"
adding that Washington "is commit-
ted to what clearly will be a long-
term recovery effort."
About 1,000 Singaporean soldiers
dispatched for relief efforts will
begin pulling out today, a Singapor-
ean military official said.
The withdrawal of foreign forces
comes as the official death toll con-
tinues to climb. Almost four weeks
after the disaster, reported deaths by
government agencies in the affected
countries range from nearly 158,000
to more than 221,000.
The U.S. Navy and Marines have
delivered nearly 3.5 million pounds
of aid supplies - about 150,000
pounds a day - since starting oper-
ations Jan. 1.
The U.N. World Food Program has
distributed 5,600 tons of food to about
400,000 people in Aceh alone, said its
Asia director, Tony Banbury. After visit-
ing the obliterated coastaL-town of Meula-
boh, Banbury said all tsunami survivors
would be fed.
"We will get food aid to everyone who
needs it," he said.
But worries over security in Aceh on
the northern tip of Sumatra - where
government forces and separatists rebels
have fought for nearly three decades -
threatened to complicate relief efforts.
Although the sides called a temporary
cease-fire to facilitate the relief effort, a
barrage of automatic gunfire was heard
in the hills near the provincial capital,
Banda Aceh, prompting residents of one
refugee camp to run for cover.
NEWS IN BRIEF1
Inauguration date set for Yuschenko
Parliament scheduled a Sunday inauguration for Western-leaning President-
elect Viktor Yushchenko, setting the stage for the transition to a new government
for Ukraine following months of divisive political crisis.
Ukraine's new leadership and Russia made moves to patch up the deep strains
between them. Yushchenko will visit Moscow on Monday, his spokeswoman said.
From Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent congratulations yesterday
"Accept my congratulations and warmest wishes in connection with your elec-
tion to the post of president of Ukraine," Putin said in a statement.
"The development of good-neighborly and equal relations with Ukraine is one of
the most important national priorities of Russia," he said.
Yushchenko had indicated earlier that his first foreign visit as president would
be to Russia, but the timing suggested a strong desire to smooth relations with
Ukraine's giant, economically critical neighbor even as he pushes for closer inte-
gration with Western Europe.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip
Palestinians place officers along Gaza
Israeli officials yesterday accepted a Palestinian plan to deploy hundreds of
police officers to ensure quiet along the Gaza-Israel frontier, in the first act of secu-
rity cooperation with Israel under Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Israeli and Palestinian security officials said negotiations over the deployment
were continuing, but the operation was expected to begin today.
While the two sides appeared to be making progress, violence persisted. Two
13-year-old Palestinian boys were killed in separate clashes with Israeli troops in
Gaza and the West Bank, Palestinian officials said.
Palestinian generals presented the Gaza deployment plan during a meeting with
their Israeli counterparts late Wednesday, convened in a last-ditch effort to avert a
threatened Israeli military offensive in Gaza. Israel has demanded the Palestinians
Crude prices drop as supply affects market
Crude-oil futures fell yesterday and then managed to recover from earlier losses.
Gold and silver managed to close well above their lows when locals got
out of short positions.
At the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude set for February delivery,
which expired at the close of trading, lost 64 cents to settle at $46.91 a bar-
rel. During the day, the contract fell as low as $46.35 a barrel. The March
contract fell 55 cents to $47.31.
February heating oil declined 0.28 cent to $1.3398 a gallon, and Febru-
ary gasoline was down 0.56 cent to $1.2576 a gallon. February natural gas
closed up 1.5 cents to $6.308 per million British thermal units.
At London's International Petroleum Exchange, March Brent crude fell 39
cents to $44.32 a barrel.
Spanish church retracts comment on condoms
The Catholic Church in Spain backtracked from a leading bishop's groundbreak-
ing statement in support of condom use to fight the spread of AIDS, saying instead
the church still believes artificial contraception is immoral.
A ruling Socialist politician involved in health care issues said she was
mystified by the church's about-face in the space of 24 hours. Gay groups said
they regretted the church's return to old policy after its "attack of lucidity." A
liberal theologian said the church had quickly backpedaled after the Vatican
reaffirmed its opposition to condoms.
The Vatican states that condoms, being a form of artificial birth control, cannot
be used to help prevent the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
THURS. CLOSE CHANGE
DOW JONES 10,471.47 -68.50
NASDAQ 2,045.88 -27.7
S&P 500 1,175.41 -9.22
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