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News Briefs I

Mexico Refuses Joint U.S. Military Exercises

Los Angeles Times

A U.S. plan to hold joint military exercises with Mexico has caused an uproar south of the border, with the Mexican government declaring firmly Monday that it will not permit such an unprecedented step.

"Bilateral cooperation in no way includes joint exercises between the armed forces of the two nations," the Foreign Ministry said in a communique.

In comments that grabbed headlines here, U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry told reporters Saturday that Washington had proposed joint exercises with the Mexican armed forces.

"And they have that under consideration now, and I believe that there will be certainly joint naval exercises conducted in the next year or so," Perry said as he visited an aircraft carrier about 60 miles northwest of San Diego.

In a nation still smarting from three U.S. invasions over the past 150 years, the comments struck a raw nerve.

Swiftly, Mexican officials assured the public that U.S. soldiers would not be arriving on Mexican soil for maneuvers. "We remain firmly tied to the fundamental argument of Mexico's foreign policy, which is strict respect for the sovereignty of nations, and the principle that only our armed forces can operate on our national territory," declared Javier Trevino, a senior Foreign Ministry official, in a radio interview on Monday.

Perry, in fact, had not suggested dispatching U.S. troops to Mexico. In the last few years, as the United States has strengthened its ties to Mexico with a free-trade agreement, the Mexican military has gingerly started to cooperate more with its U.S. counterpart. Last October, Perry made the first official visit to Mexico by an American secretary of defense.

Juan Rebolledo, a senior Mexican Foreign Ministry official, said in a radio interview that Perry had first suggested the joint exercises during his October visit. The two sides agreed to form a working group to discuss the U.S. proposals.

Mandela Speaks Harshly About His Marriage

The Baltimore Sun

Describing himself as "the loneliest man" during the years he spent with his wife Winnie after leaving prison, Nelson Mandela told a court Monday, "I'm determined to get rid of this marriage. It exists only on paper."

They were the harshest words he has spoken about the woman with whom he shared what seemed like a vibrant romance steeped in a cause.

Testifying on the opening day of his divorce suit, the 77-year-old South African president spent an hour presenting a devastating portrait of the last years of his 38-year marriage to a woman who was often heroically portrayed as standing loyally by her husband during his 27 years in prison.

"Ever since I came back from jail not once has the defendant ever entered the bedroom while I was awake," Mandela said. "I said to her that a man and his wife usually discuss the most intimate and personal problems in the bedroom.

During Mandela's years in prison, Mrs. Mandela became one of the prime public leaders of the anti-apartheid movement despite constant attempts by South African authorities to silence her. She consistently championed the cause of the man who would become the most famous prisoner in the world and later the symbol of hope when he became the first black president of this country.

When Mandela left prison in 1990, he walked hand in hand with Winnie through the waiting crowds. He stood by her during her subsequent trial for the murder of a Soweto teen-ager by a gang of her bodyguards.

Even when he announced their separation in 1992, Mandela was often portrayed as still in love with his wife, forced to leave her for political reasons as Mrs. Mandela was gaining a reputation as a undisciplined leader of the radicals of the African National Congress.