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KARZAI VISITS VOLATILE PROVINCE
AS SYMBOL OF AFGHAN FUTURE

Afghan President Hamid Karzai visited this volatile town southwest of the capital Thursday, riding on horseback through thousands of well-wishers and telling his countrymen that the time had come to seize the future and "stand on our own feet."

It was a significant gesture by the populist president in a province that has been a hotbed of Taliban activity. But American attack helicopters circled overhead and U.S. bodyguards watched from rooftops, a sign of the security challenges faced by Karzai and his nation.

"We must try to stand on our own feet," the president told a crowd at the governor's mansion In Kabul, one German peacekeeper was killed and a second wounded when their vehicle struck a mine 10 miles southeast of the capital, said Lt. Col. Paul Kolken, a Dutch spokesman for the 5,000-member multinational force. It was not clear whether the mine was planted recently or left over from nearly a quarter-century of war.

"Our country is on the path toward peace," Karzai said after a meeting with Gov. Asadullah Khalid. "We're hopeful that our dear Afghanistan will be rid of its difficulties in the next four or five years."

China affirms its hard line
on Tiananmen Square issue

BEIJING (AP) -- China spurned an appeal Thursday by families of people killed during the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations at Tiananmen Square for reassessment of the military crackdown, saying that stability remains the country's top priority.

Each anniversary of the June 4, 1989, military assault sparks debate, at least in the dissident community, over the communist leadership's condemnation of the demonstrations as "political turmoil" that required suppression by force.

In a letter Thursday to China's top prosecutor, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, 117 family members renewed demands that former Premier Li Peng be held legally responsible for the killings.

The now-retired Li has been blamed by victims of the government crackdown because he declared martial law on national television two weeks before the military pushed its way into Tiananmen Square, killing hundreds and ending seven weeks of protests.

Human rights groups and family members of victims have been lobbying for what they call a "reversal of verdicts" on the Tiananmen Square issue for years.

Suspect in kidnap-slaying
of reporter is arrested

MULTAN, Pakistan (AP) -- An Islamic militant accused of helping to plan the kidnapping and killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was arrested at a bus station in central Pakistan on Thursday, police said.

The suspect, Qari Abdul Hai, who allegedly had close ties with the Taliban, is the chief of a banned militant group condemned by the United States as a terrorist organization, police said. The group has been accused of involvement in bombings at public places in Pakistan.

Hai was captured in Muzaffargarh, 60 miles west of Multan, as he was about to board a bus for Karachi, the southern city where Pearl was kidnapped Jan. 23, 2002, and later found dead, police official Awais Malik said.

Police declined to give more details about Hai's alleged role in Pearl's kidnapping.

Four Islamic militants were convicted last year of involvement in the kidnap-slaying of Pearl. One of them, British-born Islamic militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, was sentenced to death, and the three others were sentenced to life in prison. All four have filed appeals.

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