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Saturday, September 15, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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World Digest

Way clear for China's WTO entry

GENEVA — China reached an agreement yesterday on the terms of its membership in the World Trade Organization, setting the stage for it to become a full member early next year.

Wrapping up 15 years of tough negotiations, a compromise was reached over the remaining obstacle — a dispute over insurance companies. The agreement opens the way for China to be formally approved at the WTO's meeting of trade ministers scheduled to be held in Doha, Qatar, in November.

The entry of the world's most populous nation into the WTO will open China's economy to imports but will also lead to an upsurge in Chinese exports to the rest of the world. China will also be required to adhere to global trading rules.

China's application process was caught up in political problems over Beijing's crackdown on the pro-democracy movement and economic fears that China would use its vast labor market to undercut competing products.

Feed products are made from cow linked to disease

TOKYO — A nationwide probe for mad-cow disease after the discovery of what could be Asia's first case revealed that the suspect animal was not killed and burned, as previously announced, but processed into meat and bone meal, a government spokesman said yesterday.

Agriculture Ministry spokesman Toshimichi Kado said a meal plant and a feed mill, in two Japanese states, had tons of meal that included processed meat and bones from the suspect 5-year-old Holstein milk cow.

He did not give details, but said no feed or other products containing the meat and bone meal had been sold to customers.

Mad-cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is thought to cause the fatal variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans who eat infected beef. CJD kills its victims by tearing holes in their brain tissue.

The disease has ravaged Europe's cattle industry. Cows are thought to have become infected through feed containing bone meal from infected sheep.

News service in Pakistan reports death of Taliban foe

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press, which has good contacts on both sides of the Afghan civil war, reported yesterday that legendary anti-Taliban military leader Ahmed Shah Massood has died from wounds suffered in a suicide bomb attack Sunday. U.S. and Russian officials said earlier in the week that Massood was dead. However, Patricia Lalonde of the Paris-based Collectif Liberte Afghanistan group, said Massood was still alive and in hospital in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Afghan Islamic Press cited "reliable sources" in Massood's Northern Alliance, the opposition to the militant Islamic Taliban who control most of Afghanistan. In addition Taliban radio and French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said Massood had died.

Massood, 48, the chief military obstacle to the Taliban's conquest of all of Afghanistan, had been hit by shrapnel from a bomb detonated by two Arabs posing as journalists, his aides said.

His intelligence chief, Gen. Mohammad Fahim, has been named as his temporary replacement.

Massood was the most famous of the guerrilla leaders who battled the Soviet invasion that began late in 1979. He proved as formidable an enemy for the Taliban, rallying the opposition forces a year ago after they appeared to be crumbling before a Taliban offensive.

Eight sentenced to death in plot to kill leader of Congo

KINSHASA, Congo — A military court in Congo has sentenced eight people to death for a failed plot to assassinate the central African nation's president, Joseph Kabila.

Fifteen others were sentenced to 10-year prison terms in Thursday's trial in the remote southern town of Likasi. Two people were sentenced to 15- and five-year terms, respectively, while the court acquitted 34 others.

Dozens of former child soldiers were among the suspects, but it was unclear whether any were among the convicted.

A prominent human-rights group, Asadho, alleged that Congolese authorities had tortured suspects into confessing and forced at least one person to execute a fellow detainee.

The plot was the first known one against Joseph Kabila, who became Congo's leader when his father, Laurent, was assassinated in January.

Alleged drug kingpin arrested in Caribbean resort town

MEXICO CITY — Mexican authorities captured a man thought to be the leader of one of the most important cocaine-distribution rings in Dallas, the attorney general's office said yesterday.

Mexican police arrested Terrance James Hopkins in the Caribbean resort town of Cancun on Wednesday as he attempted to pick up a wire transfer from the United States, the attorney general's office said.

The office said Hopkins had been wearing a court-ordered electronic monitor while he awaiting trial on drug charges in Texas, but removed the device when he fled to Cancun in January 2000.

15,000 Nepalese march for an end to insurgency

KATMANDU, Nepal — Thousands of people marched through the streets of the Nepalese capital yesterday seeking a peaceful end to the 5-1/2-year insurgency that has claimed more than 1,700 lives.

Wearing blue ribbons with peace slogans, at least 15,000 people walked through the center of Katmandu carrying banners that said, "Peace through talks, give up violence."

Senior government ministers and Maoist guerrilla leaders began a second round of peace talks Thursday.

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