Musharraf Escapes Assassination Attempt

Dec 15, 2003

Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf narrowly escaped an assassination attempt Sunday. He was returning home near the capital Islamabad when a bomb went off seconds after his convoy drove over a bridge. No one was hurt in the blast. President Musharraf said he was certain he was the target. No group has said they carried out the attack and a high-level investigation has been launched. It is the second serious attempt on the Pakistani president’s life since he ordered a crackdown on Islamic militants nearly two years ago.

Bush Signs Syria Sanctions Bill

Dec 15, 2003

President Bush signed a bill late Friday approving economic and diplomatic sanctions against Syria over its alleged terrorist links and purported efforts to obtain nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

The Syria Accountability Act was passed in October by large majorities in both chambers of Congress and calls for the administration to choose sanctions from a list of six proposed penalties, including flight restrictions on Syrian planes and the limitation of diplomatic contact between the two countries. The bill gives Bush the option of waiving penalties.

It also calls for Syria and Lebanon to “enter into serious unconditional bilateral negotiations” with Israel in order to secure “a full and permanent peace.” A Syrian minister told Al-Arabiya TV channel the law was passed because Damascus opposed Israeli occupation of Arab land and supported the Palestinian Intifada.

Bush on Halliburton: “We Expect That Money Be Repaid”

Dec 15, 2003

President Bush attempted to calm a political firestorm Friday over reports that a Halliburton subsidiary overcharged the U.S. government by 61 million dollars for fuel deliveries to Iraq. Bush told reporters the Pentagon was investigating the overcharge and that “If there’s an overcharge, like we think there is, we expect that money be repaid.”

Hours earlier, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld downplayed the allegations saying, “there was no overpayment to any company.” Rumsfeld said it may simply be a disagreement between Halliburton and the Defense Department — or between Halliburtion and the subsidiary, over what should be charged.

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