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June 29, 2002

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Central Asia/Russia

India, Iran, Russia map out trade route
On the map it makes perfect sense: a road, rail and sea transport corridor linking India, Iran and Russia that will provide a much cheaper and shorter alternative to traditional trade routes, including access to the Baltic states and the Central Asian countries. However, turning plans into reality could be a tricky business, writes Sudha Ramachandran. (Jun 28)
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Black Sea states forge ties
The volatile Black Sea region recently saw the coming together of its many nations. As a group the countries spoke of their conflicts and sought peaceful resolution. But hard reality shows that the depth of the region's problems forgoes any easy chance at resolution. (Jun 28)
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NEWSLINE: Oil and gas
Kazakh, Greek presidents discuss oil-export pipeline; Russian oil exports to rise; LUKoil defies protests, plans Baltic project; Russian intelligence veterans attempt Caspian swim ... (Jun 28)
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Floods ravage Chechnya's illicit oil industry
Massive flooding has wrought havoc in southern Russia, killing dozens of people and displacing tens of thousands more while destroying bridges, roads and power and water supplies. In strife-torn Chechnya, an economic lifeline has been severely damaged: an illegal and highly polluting petroleum industry. (Jun 27)
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Caspian pipeline plan draws strong protest
British Petroleum's plan to build a US$3 billion pipeline in the Caspian region has sparked the worries of non-governmental organizations. They say the pipeline will cause turmoil in the already-sensitive region. But the project seems poised to go ahead regardless. (Jun 27)
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Russia, China eye pan-Asian oil bridge
Russia and China have agreed on an investment blueprint for a US$2 billion, 2,247 kilometer crude oil pipeline that will go a long way to realizing Beijing's goal of diversifying the country's energy supply away from US-dominated shipping lanes. Other, more ambitious plans for pipelines that would create a pan-Asian oil bridge, however, are proving more difficult to implement, writes Sergei Blagov. (Jun 25)
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Kill or cure: Bio-weapons in the war on drugs
A US-led global obsession with wiping out narcotics use at the supply end rather than controlling their consumption has taken a dangerous turn: destroying illicit crops, particularly coca in Latin America and opium in Asia, with toxic fungi. Tom Fawthrop examines the biological war on drugs. (Jun 25)
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Human rights agenda under the gun
Since September 11, not only have Asian governments used the war on terrorism as an excuse to tighten security legislation, human rights organizations themselves have been put on the defensive. Undeterred by charges that rights groups are "romantic idealists at best, defenders of terrorists at worst", Amnesty International has again given Asia a spotty report card. But there are bright spots, notes Alan Boyd. (Jun 25)
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Turkey plots its own course on Iran
While the recent visit of Turkish President Ahmed Necdet Sezer to Iran was largely ceremonial, it indicates that not everyone agrees with the United States on its treatment of Tehran, writes Hooman Peimani in the first report in a series of articles on Iran's emerging diplomatic offensive. (Jun 24)
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The World Bank's Russian soap opera

The World Bank is divided into a number of factions - let's say gangs - with divergent views on how to deal with Russia. Their machinations pale in comparison, though, to the bitter wrangling that is taking place in the region of Krasnoyarsk, where local gangs are fighting for a slice of World Bank action. John Helmer reports. (Jun 21)
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Afghanistan ends up short-changed
Afghanistan has been pledged billions of dollars in aid, but the discrepancy between promise and delivery is vast, with the impoverished country only receiving a relative pocketful of change to help with its reconstruction. New systems are being put into place, though, that could improve the situation. (Jun 21)
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