UPA (Utanian Press Agency)
Release: Sunday, June 30th, 302 AP.

President voices "concern" over accused Dignanian military build-up

Utanian President Okarvits today expressed concern over the possibility of a
southern Dignanian military build-up, and the recent announcements of other
nations expanding their militaries.

The news yesterday from Zartania's "Sixth Ministry" was that reconnaissance
aircraft and other intelligence found evidence of military build-up by the
United Brotherhood of Dignania, the hard-line communist government of southern
Dignania. They reported evidence of naval construction in two port cities in
the far south of the divided country, vehicle and equipment factories in
operation in two other cities and new army units in the centre of the country.

President Okarvits, addressing reporters in the early afternoon, said he was
"deeply concerned" to receive this news, and urged restraint on both sides of
the armistace.

"I think it is a time for cool heads", he said.

The President confirmed that he would ask General Gordain, commander of the
Utanian Peacekeeping Force which maintains the armistace border between the two
sides, to seek clarification from the communist government.

At the same time, the President made veiled reference to recent declarations of
military build-up, without mentioning countries, and linked the two situations.

"There is no question that military build-up can raise regional tensions which
may lead to undesirable consequences."

Without pausing, he added: "And before you ask, Utania's naval reinforcement
program is simply the building of something that did not previously exist -- a
proper Navy. And our neighbours are completely at peace with our plans."

A truce was settled in March last year between the democratic north and
communist south, after three years of deadly conflict which drew in the
Zartanians, who implemented a naval blockade and retained naval domination in
the conflict. Zartania has since been repatriating troops homeward, scaling
down its operations supporting the democratic MLFD government of the north.

Utania deployed 24,000 peacekeepers to monitor the 450km armistace-line between
the two sides, but, despite significant resources poured into the peacekeeping
effort, the force is said to be hopelessly under-resourced, with little heavy
equipment to repel a major incursion.

President Okarvit's commitment to the peacekeeping effort in Dignania has been
a policy of significant pride, but the opposition parties oppose it as "too
expensive" for the poverty-wracked nation. Presidential nomination candidate,
and opposition leader, Thomas Kemp has told reporters he would hand the peace-
keeping over to the UNV.

©UPA, 301 AP.

©Mike Ham, 2001. All rights reserved. No reproduction without, at least, tacit approval. ;-)