- The Washington Times - Friday, June 20, 2003

SOUTH AFRICA

Trial is approved for AIDS vaccine

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa has approved its first local AIDS vaccine trial, specifically targeting the strain of the disease that is killing millions of people across the African continent, doctors said yesterday.

Clinical “phase one” testing of the candidate vaccine is expected to begin in the next two months with 12 volunteers in the United States. If it is deemed safe, further trials will be undertaken on people in both South Africa and the United States, principal investigator Glenda Gray said.

The candidate vaccine, developed by the privately owned North Carolina company AlphaVax, is the first in the world to target the C-strain of the AIDS virus spreading in southern Africa, Miss Gray said.

BELGIUM

War-crimes cases filed against Bush, Blair

BRUSSELS — Belgium said yesterday it has received lawsuits against President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair under a war-crimes law granting its courts universal jurisdiction.

But it has forwarded the cases that claim violations of international law during the war in Iraq to the defendants’ home countries, greatly reducing their chances of ever coming to a court. Britain immediately said it would discard the lawsuit and take no further action on it.

Belgium has been criticized, especially by the United States, for the law, which empowers its courts to try foreigners for serious war and human rights crimes no matter where they were committed.

BURMA

Suu Kyi spends birthday in detention

BANGKOK — Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi spent her 58th birthday in detention yesterday as supporters planned vigils around the world and diplomatic pressure mounted on the country’s military rulers to free her.

“Sadly, this is the seventh birthday since 1989 that she has spent under detention by her country’s military rulers,” State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said in a written statement.

Mrs. Suu Kyi is being held in the Insein Jail on the outskirts of Rangoon, British Foreign Office Minister Mike O’Brien said in a statement yesterday.

CHINA

American charged with sedition

BEIJING — An American and a New Zealander described by dissidents as democracy advocates were arrested formally yesterday on charges of kidnapping and inciting the overthrow of China’s communist government, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

New Zealander Sun Gang and American Benjamin Lan were detained on May 14 “while carrying out illegal activities,” Xinhua said.

The China Federation Foundation, a pro-democracy group based in California, said the two were group members who planned to set up a branch in Beijing.

CHINA

3 dead, 20 missing after ferry sinks

BEIJING — A Chinese passenger ferry carrying about 35 people sank yesterday after colliding with another boat in heavy fog on the Yangtze River, state news and officials said.

At least three bodies were recovered and 12 survivors were pulled from the river near the western city of Chongqing. An official said fog was too thick for rescue boats to head for the site of the early morning collision.

The accident occurred more than 300 miles upstream from the Three Gorges dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric project, where sluice gates were closed early this month to begin forming a massive reservoir.

ROMANIA

Parliament approves Iraq peacekeepers

BUCHAREST — Romania’s parliament yesterday approved the dispatch of 678 peacekeepers to help an international force stabilize Iraq.

Parliament agreed to send an infantry battalion of 405 soldiers, a 100-strong military police unit, 149 military engineers and 24 officers following a request by President Ion Iliescu. The peacekeepers, expected to leave Romania next month, would act under Italian command.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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