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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 23 Mar 2000 to 24 Mar 2000

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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 23 Mar 2000 to 24 Mar 2000
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There are 10 messages totalling 635 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. (AFP)Japan charges former Iranian ambassador to Japan over arms exports
2. (AFP)Caviar producers dream of US market
3. (AFP)Police must oblige Iranian women to cover up, says leading
conservative
4. (AFP)Iran criticises US bill on oil
5. Payvand-Iran's Response To U.S. Overture: Seizing The Moment
6. (AFP)Iran says it still against oil production rise
7. (AFP)US-Iran detente could help UAE
8. (AFP)Bani Sadr points finger at conservatives over shooting
9. (AFP)Iran denies part in bloody Baghdad mortar attack
10. Iran denounces deadly mortar attack in Iraq

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000 11:02:59 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: (AFP)Japan charges former Iranian ambassador to Japan over arms exports

Japan charges former Iranian ambassador to Japan over arms exports
Japan - Friday, 24 March 2000 - Agence France Presse

TOKYO, March 24 (AFP) - Police on Friday filed charges against two
Iranians, including a former ambassador to Japan, over illegal exports
of parts for RPG-7 anti-tank rocket launchers to Iran.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Department said it had sent papers on the pair to
the District Public Prosecutors Office on suspicion of violating the law
regulating foreign exchange.

The 47-year-old former envoy, who served in Tokyo from 1990 to 1994, and
a 49-year-old former clerical staffer at the Iranian embassy, were
suspected of arranging payment for the exports, a police spokesman said.

According to the Japanese foreign ministry, Hossein Kazenpour Ardedili
served here as Iranian ambassador during the period.

The press attache at the Iranian Embassy was not immediately available
for comment.

Under the Vienna convention, diplomats are exempted from arrest or
prosecution on criminal charges.

But they can still be questioned on a voluntary basis and papers on
their cases can be referred to public prosecutors.

The Tokyo police department, knowing that the two would never be
indicted, was believed to be trying to set the record straight on the
exports, which flouted Japan's tight restrictions on arms exports.

The police "public security division had sought cooperation from the
Iranian embassy in the investigations through diplomatic channels but
the embassy had refused it," the police spokesman said.

"As progress in the investigations cannot be expected any more, we
decided to turn the case over to public prosecutors."

The two Iranians were suspected of paying 3.05 million yen (28,500
dollars) for reticules of sighting devices for RPG-7 rocket launchers,
which were exported to Iran by Japanese optical instrument firm Sunbeam
Co. without authorisation, Tokyo police said.

The Tokyo company illegally exported 5,600 cross-hair eye pieces to a
national Iranian electronics industry firm from April 1994 to December
1995, the police department said.

The Iranian envoy and the aide transferred a total of 8.47 million yen
to the company's bank account. The balance between the total and the
3.05 million dollars covered payments which had run out of the statute
of limitations.

Additionally, the Iranians paid a total of 32.4 million yen to the
company's account in eight installments from December 1993 to April
1997, the police department said.

In January, Tokyo police arrested two executives of Sunbeam Co. for the
illegal exports.

It also placed Iranian businessman Masoud Momtahan, 38, on the
international wanted list last month for his involvement in the
shipments.

At that time, the Iranian embassy denied involvement in the case.

Police said Masoud Momtahan was suspected of ordering the critical
weapon parts, which are banned for export to Iran without special
permission under Japanese law.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000 11:08:15 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: (AFP)Caviar producers dream of US market

Caviar producers dream of US market
Iran - Friday, 24 March 2000 - Agence France Presse
TEHRAN, March 24 (AFP) - Iranian caviar producers are dreaming of breaking
back into the US market following Washington's decision to ease an embargo
in respect of the high-class delicacy though they admit they are facing
problems.

"It will be very difficult to get into the American market because
Russian caviar dominates there," said Akbar Nosratzadeh, a leading
supplier and exporter of the eggs from the Caspian Sea sturgeon.

Exporters said the March 17 decision to ease the US trade sanctions on
Iran to allow imports of pistachio nuts, carpets and dried fruit as well
as caviar would take time to be implemented.

"Nothing has been done yet and the US customs have not been informed of
the lifting of the embargo", said Bijan Ghassemi, who exports caviar to
Japan and the rest of the Far East.

Nosratzadeh said some 60 tonnes of caviar, essentially from Russia, were
consumed in the United States annnually, and the market could take
another 20 tonnes.

But other Iranian exporters said consumption had dropped in the last
couple of years, amounting to only 30 tonnes in 1999.

The head of US-based caviar distributors Paramount, Hossein Imeni, said
the Iranians would encounter strong competition from the Russians.

"The problem is that the Russian caviar is between 10 and 15 percent
cheaper," he said, quoted by the Iranian news agency IRNA.

But Imeni added that a consignment of Iranian caviar was already in
Europe waiting for the US customs to give the green light to its import.

At the same time caviar is becoming scarcer, as a result both of
uncontrolled fishing and pollution of the Caspian through exploitation
of the huge oil resources underneath the sea bed.

Khodakaram Jalali, head of the national fisheries, said Iran's
production had been falling for four years. In 1999 it stood at some 100
tonnes of high quality caviar, compared with around 300 tonnes a decade
ago.

Jalali said that with the breakup of the Soviet Union the three new
countries which emerged on the shores of the Caspian, Azerbaijan,
Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, were less prudent about controlling the
fishing.

In particular they had allowed the use of nets with too small a mesh,
with the result that the sea's estimated stock of sturgeons had fallen
from 200 million in 1990 to 60 million in 1995, according to Iranian
experts.

The end of the tight Soviet controls on caviar production also led to a
rise in illegal fishing and smuggling by dozens of small family
enterprises.

Each year Iran releases some 20 million sturgeon fry into the southern
part of the Caspian and puts tight limits on the size of nets used.

The United States eased the sanctions in a move aimed at a rapprochement
with Iran following the victory of reformists in February's Iranian
parliamentary elections.

It also said it would work toward returning billions of dollars in
Iranian assets frozen since the Islamic revolution here in 1979.

Iranian carpet merchants said they planned to send 400 million dollars
worth of their wares to the United States in the first stage of a
massive export drive.

Akbar Harischian, president of the association of Iranian carpet
exporters, told the Fath daily Sunday Iranian dealers were hoping the
opening of the US market would make up for a fall in sales to Europe.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000 11:05:37 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: (AFP)Police must oblige Iranian women to cover up,
says leading conservative

Police must oblige Iranian women to cover up, says leading conservative

Iran - Friday, 24 March 2000 - Agence France Presse

TEHRAN, March 24 (AFP) - Young Iranian women are ignoring the dress code
that demands they cover their hair when they go out, and the police and
courts must do more to ensure that they conform to the rules, a leading
conservative told worshippers at Friday prayers here.

"The families of martyrs and the believers are unhappy with this
situation and you must do something and make women observe the rules and
hide their hair," said Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, a former head of the
judiciary and a member of the key Guardians Council.

"It is unbelievable, the headscarf is slipping further and further back
on their heads, and soon they will be popping out for little errands
without covering themselves up at all," he warned, and called on the
police to act to put an end to the situation.

Yazdi pointed the finger in particular at young women in the wealthy
districts of north Tehran.

Since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution women have been obliged to wear
either the all-enveloping chador or a long coat and a headscarf
completely covering the hair whenever they go out.

Furthermore, unmarried men and women are not allowed to mingle in
public.

However, since reformist President Mohammad Khatami came to power in
1997, few women have been arrested for flouting the Islamic dress code.
Young people and women played a crucial part in Khatami's election.

A few years ago, women arrested for not covering-up properly risked a
flogging, although they were usually let off with a verbal caution after
signing an undertaking to respect the code in future, and paying a fine.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000 11:09:24 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: (AFP)Iran criticises US bill on oil

Iran criticises US bill on oil
Iran - Thursday, 23 March 2000 - Agence France Presse

TEHRAN, March 23 (AFP) - Iranian state radio on Thursday denounced a
bill passed by US lawmakers urging President Bill Clinton to seek cuts
in military and economic aid to oil exporters, accusing representatives
of trying to score points in an election year.

"This bill is aimed at attracting voters in the coming presidential
elections and is meant for internal usage only," the commentator said.

The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved "The Oil Price
Reduction Act of 2000", spurred on by soaring gas prices in the wake of
production cuts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries
(OPEC), resulting in record-high petroleum prices.

"The Americans are trying to influence decisions made by OPEC, but
member countries consider the interests of their people first," state
radio said.

Ministers from the 11-member OPEC are expected to decide in Vienna March
27 whether to raise output quotas and bring down prices.

Output cuts decided in March 1999 led to a tripling of oil prices.

Earlier in March, Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zangheneh in Riyadh
kept options open on ways to stabilize the oil market, hiding his cards
on whether Tehran would accept an output hike to bring down prices.

Zangheneh and Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Nuaimi agreed in a joint
statement, on the need for "adequate and timely" supplies, but they gave
no details on volume or timing.

OPEC's second largest oil producer, Iran currently produces around 3.7
million barrels per day, of which 2.4 million barrels are exported.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000 11:11:57 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Payvand-Iran's Response To U.S. Overture: Seizing The Moment

Payvand's Iran News ...

3/24/00 ANALYSIS: Iran's Response To U.S. Overture: Seizing The Moment

By: K.L. Afrasiabi, Ph.D.

Any Iranian attempt to decipher the present juncture of U.S.-Iran
relations, and to delineate the various nuances of an appropriate
Iranian response to the latest overture toward Iran by the Clinton
Administration, must do so through the prism of national interests. Such
an endeavor, unfettered by ideological dogmas, should, logically
speaking, take the following into consideration:

1). The speech by secretary of state Madeline Albright at the meeting of
American Iranian Council on March 17, 2000, was in many respect a
watershed containing several new elements -- with respect to the frozen
assets, statements of regrets regarding past misdeeds, acknowledging
Iran's security concerns and legitimate rights in the two regions of
Persian Gulf and Central Asia, and praising Iran's civilization. Both in
terms of the symbolic gesture and practical policy aspects, the speech
was significant, deserving serious attention in Iran.

2). The speech fell short of an ideal Iranian request: the trade
concessions were moderate, coming a week after the White House's renewal
of sanctions, and recycled the old accusations regarding Iran's alleged
nuclear build up and support for terrorism. Clearly, this mixed baggage
requires a mutually mixed response.

3). However, the U.S. Secretary of State's speech's real significance
was perhaps in terms of bringing down, without necessarily tearing
apart, the politico-psychological wall of mistrust and animosity.
Certainly, Albright was under no obligation to praise Iran as a country
and court its people so much. Such positive "linguistic turn" is bound
to have policy implication, i.e., it fuels the anti-sanction sentiment ,
which must be capitalized on by Tehran, notwithstanding the importance
of impending loans by the World Bank, among others.

4). The Clinton Administration has, optimistically speaking, three to
four more months before becoming ceremonial. Thus, there is a small
window of time to "leapfrog" the relations beyond the current stalemate.

5). Should this opportunity bypass, the fate of U.S.-Iran rapprochement
will be postponed for at least one and a half to two years. And there is
no telling at this point who the next president in the White House will
be and the nature of his men. What is abundantly clear, however, is
that, compared with both Gore and Bush, Clinton is more inclined to
normalize relations with Iran. Unmindful of approaching elections'
priorities, and more concerned about his legacy, Clinton has a
relatively free hand to set the course of Iran policy, whereas Gore is
bound to be more attentive to the anti-Iran Jewish lobby.

6). Hence, if Iran's intention is to put the U.S.-Iran relations on a
healthy diplomatic track, it must seize the current moment instead of
pre-expiring it as yet another "lost opportunity." Assuming, for
argument's sake, that this is indeed the Khatami government's intention,
as there are serious, long-term issues at stake, such as a Central
Asia-Persian Gulf pipeline affecting generations of Iranians, then the
question is, obviously, how should Tehran respond to the American
demarche?

7). A possible answer to the above question is: Foreign Minister
Kharrazi should use a high profile occasion in the near future to
deliver a major foreign policy speech replying to Albright's speech
point by point. Such a speech should show that Iran is boldly taking a
giant step forward toward the goal of normalization. The usually
reticent Dr. Kharrazi should recognize the national sentiment for
foreign policy change reflected in the recent elections, the need for
selective cooperation with U.S. on such issues as drug trafficking,
refugees, and terrorism emanating from Afghanistan, as well as direct
discussions on the frozen assets. Concerning the latter, Kharrazi should
announce the readiness of Iran for a joint commission to resolve the
assets issue.

8). But, the boldest step yet by Dr. Kharrazi should be the declaration
of his willingness to meet Albright face to face without any
precondition. This is a timely step in tune with the will of people and
there is no convincing rationale to sidestep it. Such a surprise
announcement will show the world that Iran is mature and sophisticated
enough to recognize the importance of diplomacy in the face of lingering
disputes.

9). Indeed, as U.S.-China relations, or our relations with many
countries, demonstrates, we need not resolve all our differences with
Washington in order to have diplomatic relations with them. Both sides
can resume relations despite the endurance of many unresolved issues,
which should be tackled in the future with the help of direct diplomacy.

10). A Clinton-Khatami summit, presently the unthinkable, should be
contemplated as well: using the early U.S.-Soviet Union summits as
limited analogies, such a summit proclaiming the restoration of full
diplomatic relations, as far-fetched as it sounds at the moment, is only
the logical culmination of the current process of warming relations
under way. Should this happen, I have no doubt both presidents will be
awarded the Nobel Peace prize. The summit can be initiated by the help
of global leaders such as Nelson Mandela through a private letter to
both presidents for a summit in South Africa. And a group of dignitaries
from both countries and many other countries, such as Muhammad Ali,
Jesse Jackson, and so on, would be invited.

In conclusion, the government of Mr. Khatami is well-advised to not let
this golden opportunity to bypass Iran's foreign policy. Iran's foreign
policy is presently directed toward regionalism, globalization,
collective security, and the like, and it is in our national interests,
and in tune with Khatami's velvet revolution and its reformed ideology,
to work assiduously to normalize relations with the American superpower
and use the diplomatic channel to deal with it for the foreseeable
future. Certainly, we should not take our cues on this matter from
Baghdad, whose leadership is frozen in time and has set his country a
century or so back. Thanks to the depth of our political history and
state-making, we fully recognize the importance of promoting our
interests via the peace card and use of a complex diplomacy to tackle
the various regional and international issues.

---
Dr. Afrasiabi is a research scholar at UC Berkeley. Akaveh1@aol.com

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000 11:06:24 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: (AFP)Iran says it still against oil production rise

Iran says it still against oil production rise

Iran - Friday, 24 March 2000 - Agence France Presse

TEHRAN, March 24 (AFP) - Iran said Friday it was still against a rise in
oil production to bring prices down being decided at next Monday's OPEC
meeting.

"A rise in production in the current situation is not justified and a
fall in prices risks making the market unstable," state radio quoted
senior oil ministry official Hossein Kazem-Pur Ardebili as saying.

Ardebili, an aide to Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zangheneh, hit out at US
pressure to reduce prices from their present level of around 27 dollars
a barrel.

"Those who through pressure or an embargo want to control prices showed
no concern when the price of the barrel was 10 dollars," Ardebili said.

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), of which Iran
is the second largest member in terms of production, meets in Vienna
Monday to decide whether to continue production cutbacks introduced a
year ago which tripled prices.

Iran steadfastly opposed hiking output until a meeting on March 8
between Zangeheneh and his Saudi counterpart Ali al-Nuaimi, when they
agreed in a joint statement on the need for "adequate and timely"
supplies to stabilise the markets.

But there was no indication of timing or production levels, and Iranian
officials followed up by saying that did not explicitly mean that Tehran
backed increasing production and insisted demand would fall with the
approach of summer.

US Energy Secretary Bill Richardson says he is optimistic that the
cartel will boost production but fears that it will not be enough.

A vote Wednesday by the US House of Representatives urging President
Bill Clinton to seek retaliatory cuts in military and economic aid to
oil exporters sparked an angry reaction from Tehran.

"This bill is aimed at attracting voters in the coming presidential
elections and is meant for internal usage only," Iranian state radio
said Thursday.

"The Americans are trying to influence decisions made by OPEC, but
member countries consider the interests of their people first."

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000 11:10:07 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: (AFP)US-Iran detente could help UAE

US-Iran detente could help UAE

UAE - Wednesday, 22 March 2000 - Agence France Presse

ABU DHABI, March 22 (AFP) - US moves to improve ties with Tehran could
also help resolve the territorial dispute between Iran and the United
Arab Emirates (UAE), a US official said Wednesday.

"The US efforts for an overture toward Iran could serve ... to settle
the problem of the three Gulf islands," Assistant Secretary of State
Edward Walker told the Emirati newspaper Al-Ittihad.

He said Washington aimed "to encourage the moderate leadership in Iran
and its new legislative body to be more receptive to the possibility of
negotiations" on the islands of Abu Mussa and the Greater and Lesser
Tunbs.

The United States also supports a Gulf Arab panel of three foreign
ministers set up to try to initiate direct talks between Abu Dhabi and
Tehran, Walker said in the Arabic-language newspaper.

Bahraini Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa called Wednesday
for Iran to halt its "occupation" of the three islands.

The islands dispute poses an obstacle to a normalisation between Iran
and its Arab neighbours in the Gulf, Sheikh Khalifa said, quoted by
Bahrain's official news agency GNA.

On Sunday, UAE newspapers warned against an Iranian-US rapprochement,
following Washington's decision to ease sanctions against Tehran.

"American Machiavellianism is at play again. The United States changes
its policies from top to bottom, depending on its interests," said
Al-Khaleej, which reflects the official view.

"It is no longer possible to feign ignorance of the negative
repercussions of the development of US-Iranian relations on the Arab
world and its future," warned Al-Bayan.

Iran in 1971 seized control of the three Gulf islands, which effectively
control one of the world's main oil supply routes.

The UAE has repeatedly called for international arbitration but Tehran
has rejected such a proposal, insisting that the islands are an integral
part of Iranian territory.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000 11:04:35 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: (AFP)Bani Sadr points finger at conservatives over shooting

Former president points finger at conservatives over shooting

France - Friday, 24 March 2000 - Agence France Presse

PARIS, March 24 (AFP) - Iranian ex-president Abolhassan Bani Sadr told
AFP Friday that security forces backed by conservative leaders were
behind the March 12 shooting of Said Hajarian, his friend and a
prominent reformist.

Bani Sadr, the first president of the Islamic Republic in 1980-1, told
AFP that the Revolutionary Guards (Pasdaran) were responsible for the
attack and accused the Ayatollahs Ali Khamenei and Ali Akbar Hashemi
Rafsanjani of a cover-up.

Ali Khatami is a former president and Rafsanjani headed the defeated
conservative electoral list in last month's elections. Bani Sadr accused
them of complicity in a violent conservative backlash against the
victorious reformists.

Hajarian, 47, an executive member of the reformist Islamic Iran
Participation Front which is led by President Mohammad Khatami's
brother, was shot by two men on a motorbike in central Tehran.

He remains in hospital in a critical condition under armed guard.

Bani Sadr, who has been exiled in France since 1981, said two groups had
been arrested following the attack, one by investigators assigned by
Khatami and the other by Pasdaran.

The second group, which he said was made up of at least six people, "was
called in for questioning March 17 and had still has not been sent to
the Information Ministry Thursday," he said.

"The Ayatollahs Khamanei and Rafsanjani were informed and they are
covering up these actions," Bani Sadr said.

Iran's liberal press also condemned conservatives following the attack,
but has never directly implicated the Pasadran

Bani Sadr alleged that Khamenei, who directs the Pasadran, instructed
them not to name group in relation with the incident.

The Participation Front announced more arrests by a "military organ"
without giving more details.

"This terror is part of a new policy after the recent legislative
elections to enable (conservatives) to regain control of the state and
block the development of the regime," Bani Sadr said. "The goal is to
block the reformists from getting further."

He named of five prominent personalities -- including journalists,
liberal writers and Interior vice-Minister Mostafa Tadjzadeh -- who he
said could be the be the next victims.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000 11:07:08 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: (AFP)Iran denies part in bloody Baghdad mortar attack

Iran denies part in bloody Baghdad mortar attack

Iran - Friday, 24 March 2000 - Agence France Presse

TEHRAN, March 24 (AFP) - Iran denied Friday Iraqi claims that it was
involved in a mortar attack in Baghdad this week that reportedly killed
four people and wounded 38.

"These explosions are the result of Iraq's internal problems and have
nothing to do with Iran," a foreign ministry official quoted by the
state news agency IRNA said.

The unnamed official deplored "such subversive acts" and warned Baghdad
"not to fall into the propaganda trap of some foreign media which are
seeking to create problems between the two countries."

Iraq's news agency said Wednesday that "a group of agents of the Iranian
regime fired six mortar bombs at densely populated civilian areas of
Baghdad" in the attack on Tuesday night.

Iraq condemned the action as "flagrant aggression" and "reserves the
right to retaliate in the appropriate manner", it said, adding that a
60-mm mortar, two unexploded bombs, a compass and other equipment were
found abandoned at the scene.

Azzam al-Ahmad, the Palestinian representative to Baghdad, said the
mortars hit the eastern district of Baladiyat, home to most of Iraq's
Palestinian refugees.

Iran's main armed opposition group, the People's Mujahedeen, based in
Iraq, claimed responsibility for a similar incident in Tehran on March
13 and said Iran had tried to attack its camps.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000 11:14:29 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iran denounces deadly mortar attack in Iraq

Iran denounces deadly mortar attack in Iraq


TEHRAN, March 24 (Reuters) - Iran has condemned a deadly mortar attack in
Iraq earlier this week, denying Iraqi charges that it was behind the blast,
state television said on Friday.

``These attacks emanate from Iraq's internal problems and have nothing to do
with Iran,'' Iranian television quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza
Asefi as saying.

The television said Asefi had ``denounced'' Tuesday's attack on a building
housing Palestinians in Baghdad which left six people dead and 38 others
wounded.

The official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted Asefi as accusing ``certain news
media'' of ``fanning problems between Iran and Iraq.''

``Iraqi officials should be mindful of enemy propaganda to sow discord,'' he
said.

Iraq, which fought a war with Iran from 1980 to 1988, has blamed the attack
on Iranian agents and reserved the right to respond.

Tension between the two neighbours has escalated in recent weeks over
cross-border attacks by the Iraq-based Mujahideen Khalq, the main armed
Iranian opposition group.

The Mujahideen have also claimed responsibility for two recent mortar attacks
on Tehran which left one civilian dead and many others injured.

Baghdad said last week that its air defences had shot down an Iranian
reconnaissance drone. The next day, Iran said the Mujahideen had killed two
of its soldiers near the border.

The Mujahideen said their anti-aircraft systems had last week repulsed an air
attack by Iran against one of their military bases inside Iraq.

------------------------------

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 23 Mar 2000 to 24 Mar 2000
***************************************************