Rumsfeld Endorses Shift, Possible Reduction in Troops in KoreaTHE WASHINGTON POST -- WASHINGTON
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld expressed support Thursday for shifting U.S. forces in Korea away from the fortified border between North and South and from the capital city, Seoul, adding that there might even be an overall reduction in the 37,000 U.S. troops stationed on the peninsula.
Disclosing that U.S. military officials have been working privately for months on a potential repositioning of U.S. troops in South Korea, Rumsfeld said bilateral discussions on the subject would soon begin at the invitation of South Korea’s President-elect Roh Moo-hyun.
His remarks to the Senate Armed Services Committee came against the backdrop of recent strains between Washington and Seoul over how to deal with North Korea’s intensified pursuit of nuclear weapons. The issue of alleged crimes committed by U.S. troops in the South also has become a subject of tension.
But Rumsfeld sought to couch the Korean review in the broader context of a general reassessment by the Pentagon and regional commanders of U.S. troop concentrations overseas, including the American military presence in Germany.
Rumsfeld appeared to favor some change in Germany as well. He noted with some frustration the difficulty that American troops are currently experiencing trying to travel from Germany to Italy -- and on to the Persian Gulf for a possible war with Iraq -- saying that Austria has blocked movement of the forces by rail through its territory.
AIDS Researchers Intrigued By Effect of Another VirusTHE WASHINGTON POST -- BOSTON
Could the magic bullet against the AIDS virus be ... another virus?
AIDS researchers who gathered here Thursday got a slightly clearer look at one of the strangest actors in the AIDS drama -- a microbe known as GB virus C.
The virus infects a significant proportion of humankind, at least 20 percent. Scientists have found no diseases or ill effects attributable to it, despite an intensive search since the virus was discovered in the mid-1990s. They have, however, noticed a benefit: People infected with the AIDS virus seem to live longer if they are also infected with GBV-C.
The good that GBV-C does may be equivalent to a large increase in the CD4-cell count, which is a measure of immune robustness that, for example, tends to rise with successful antiretroviral treatment of AIDS.
“This is really happening. There is a high attributable benefit if this virus is present. We really have to look at it,” said Carolyn Williams, an epidemiologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
U.S. Plane Crashes in Colombia; Five on Board MissingTHE WASHINGTON POST -- BOGOTA, COLOMBIA
A U.S. government aircraft crashed in southern Colombia Thursday after its single engine failed. The fate of the four Americans and one Colombian on board remained uncertain as night fell in the guerrilla-controlled zone where the plane went down.
Colombian military officials warned that the crew may have been taken captive by members of the country’s largest leftist guerrilla group, which regards U.S. government personnel as legitimate targets. The four Americans on board the Cessna 208 were contract employees of the Central Intelligence Agency at work on an anti-drug operation in southern Colombia, U.S. officials said.
Colombian soldiers arrived at the rugged crash site near the provincial capital of Florencia within 30 minutes of the 9 a.m. plane crash. Colombian officials said the soldiers found footprints in the vicinity of the crash but no sign of survivors or bodies. Officials raised the possibility that members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, an 18,000-member Marxist guerrilla group known by its Spanish acronym, FARC, could have arrived before the government troops, taking away any survivors. Officials also acknowledged that it was also possible that the men set off on their own, knowing they were in a guerrilla zone.
U.S., Turkey Haggle Over Economic AidWASHINGTON POST -- WASHINGTON
American and Turkish diplomats held intensive and inconclusive negotiations Thursday over the terms of a multibillion-dollar economic aid package designed to secure Turkish support for a potential U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and insulate Turkey from war costs.
After a day of discussions in Washington that included Secretary of State Colin Powell and Treasury undersecretary John Taylor, the two sides remained billions of dollars apart, said a senior Turkish official who described “slight movement, but not enough to satisfy the Turks.”
Turkey, which shares a 218-mile border with Iraq, hasn’t agreed to allow U.S. troops to use its facilities in the event of war, and Prime Minister Abdullah Gul told reporters in Ankara, the capital, Thursday that the decision would depend on the outcome of the aid talks.
Turkey received a commitment of military help Thursday from Germany and the Netherlands, which prepared to ship Patriot missiles there despite the NATO alliance’s inability to agree to a Turkish request for protection against a potential Iraqi threat. Turkey continues to seek reconnaissance planes and units able to respond to germ and biological warfare.
U.S. officials say Turkey will certainly receive financial help from the United States.