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News Briefs

Operation Anaconda Fails To Yield Grand Prizes

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- BAGRAM, AFGHANISTAN

The U.S.-led Operation Anaconda has failed to yield any top al-Qaida leaders, and an American commander said Thursday that the terror network’s upper echelon may not have been in the Shahi Kot valley when the battle began.

But even without apparently achieving its ultimate quarry -- terror chief Osama bin Laden -- the biggest U.S.-led ground assault since the 1991 Persian Gulf War has removed “hundreds” from the rolls of international terror, most of them from the Russian republic of Chechnya, Uzbekistan and even China, said Maj. General Frank L. Hagenbeck, commander of the coalition waging the battle in eastern Afghanistan.

“We’ve rid the world of hundreds of trained killers who will now not slaughter innocent men, women and children,” Hagenbeck said.

He added that he believes few of the estimated 1,000 cadres who fought in the valley about 100 miles south of this former Soviet air base have escaped the U.S.-led dragnet, which has become a cave-by-cave search for al-Qaida soldiers believed to be holed up there.

Bush to Seek $5 Billion in Aid For Developing Countries

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- WASHINGTON

President Bush said Thursday he will seek $5 billion over three years in new assistance to developing nations, but to qualify the countries must root out corruption, demonstrate support for human rights and promote democratic and economic reforms.

He also linked his aid proposal to the war on terrorism, asserting that poverty and misery can lead to hopelessness and despair -- conditions that he said can help breed terrorism.

The funding increase, if approved by Congress, would be substantial: Worldwide, the United States now provides about $17 billion a year in development assistance for education, health, business promotion and other such programs.

Bush made his announcement at the Inter-American Development Bank here, and it came a week before he is to join other world leaders in Monterrey, Mexico, for a United Nations conference on development.

“This growing divide between wealth and poverty, between opportunity and misery, is both a challenge to our compassion and a source of instability,” Bush said. “We must confront it. We must include every African, every Asian, every Latin American, every Muslim in an expanding circle of development.”

Serbia, Montenegro Remain Together Under New Name

THE WASHINGTON POST -- ROME

Averting a potentially nasty divorce, Serbia and Montenegro agreed Thursday to remain part of a single federation and in the process dropped the name of their union, Yugoslavia. In a stroke, they ended a tumultuous history that dated from the end of World War I.

The two Balkan republics agreed to form a new political entity that will be called Serbia and Montenegro. Its creation would be possibly the last act in the decade-long disintegration of Yugoslavia into five separate states plus U.N.-administered Kosovo province.

For all Serbia’s fight in the 1990s to preserve Yugoslavia, the name went out with a whimper. Thursday’s accord was signed in federation capital Belgrade and settles, for now, a festering dispute between Serbia, with 10 million people, the most populous republic of Yugoslavia, and Montenegro, a mountainous region on the Adriatic Sea coast with only 650,000 inhabitants.