US Navy Halts Interceptions Of Vessels On Red Sea

UNITED States Navy-led shipping interceptions in the Red Sea, enforcing United Nations sanctions against Iraq, will be suspended for a one-month trial period beginning today. The Navy's announcement on Tuesday followed a UN agreement to stop intercepting vessels bound for Jordan, once a key trading conduit for Iraq, and rely instead on onshore inspections of cargo.

The halt to intercepts in the Red Sea is to help Jordan, a key player in the Arab-Israeli peace process, and does not signal an end to the sanctions imposed on Iraq in 1990 for invading Kuwait.

Jordan's King Hussein had boycotted talks with Israel since March to protest the UN blockade. Jordan said that the Red Sea interceptions caused it to lose more than $440 million in 1993 alone. After land-based inspections were agreed to in April, talks resumed, culminating in the July 25 pact by King Hussein and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to end their nations' 46-year state of war. Yemen regroups

THE party of President Ali Abdullah Saleh is considering forming a new government in this small, Arabian peninsula nation that would include Islamists and exclude southern Socialists defeated in the recent civil war. ``It seems things are moving in the direction of a coalition between [Saleh's] General Peoples Congress and Islah,'' Deputy Prime Minister Abdel-Wahab Ali al-Ansi said Tuesday.

The Aden-based Yemen Socialist Party (YSP) merged southern Yemen with Mr. Saleh's north four years ago and remains officially in the Cabinet although its senior leaders have been denounced by Saleh as traitors for trying to break up the union.

Islah, the traditional political enemy of the secular YSP, strongly supported Saleh during a two-month civil war that ended on July 7 with the defeat of southern secessionists.

Ansi said the tasks facing the new government were enormous. With three guns for every person, Yemen plans to ban firearms in cities. ``We are making efforts to ban the carrying of weapons once and for all in the cities and reorganize carrying [arms] under license in other areas,'' Interior Minister Yahya al-Mutawakel told a security officers' meeting.

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