- The Washington Times - Friday, October 8, 2004

TAIWAN

Lawmakers urged to OK U.S. arms deal

TAIPEI — Foreign Minister Mark Chen warned lawmakers this week that ties with Washington would be hurt if parliament failed to approve an $18 billion budget to buy advanced U.S. weapons.

Mr. Chen spoke Wednesday after the Pentagon’s top policy-maker for Asia said passage of the budget was “a litmus test” in U.S. eyes. “If the Legislative Yuan fails to pass this budget, it will be much harder to convince foreign partners to support your defense,” Richard Lawless, a deputy U.S. undersecretary of defense, said in remarks released by the Pentagon on Wednesday.

“Friends and foes alike will begin to regard Taiwan as a liability, rather than a partner,” he said at a defense industry conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., organized by the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council.

“Make no mistake, the passage of this budget is a litmus test of Taiwan’s commitment to its self-defense — for Washington and Beijing,” Mr. Lawless was quoted as saying.

VIETNAM

Old U.S. shell kills teen, hurts 2

HANOI — A teenager was killed and his father and brother gravely injured when a U.S.-made artillery shell left over from the Vietnam War exploded in southern Vietnam, police said yesterday.

The explosion occurred a day earlier as the three tried to prise open the 105 mm shell they had discovered in a rice field in southern Kien Giang province. Le Van Tu, 15, died on the spot, and his brother, 22, and their father, 57, suffered serious shrapnel injuries.

The U.S. military says more than 15 million tons of bombs, mines, artillery shells and other munitions were used during the Vietnam War, and as much as 10 percent of the ordnance failed to explode. Since the war ended in 1975, more than 38,000 people have been killed and more than 100,000 injured by belated explosions of the ordnance, according to the Public Security Ministry.

Weekly notes

Ailing Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk, 83, announced his abdication yesterday. In a statement faxed to Reuters news agency in Beijing, where the king has been undergoing medical treatment, he said he would not return to Cambodia until the nine-member throne council names a new king. “I hope this is not a permanent abdication,” said son Norodom Ranariddh. “I am getting old, my body and my pulse is getting weaker,” said the monarch, adding: “It is up to the Royal Throne Council to decide whether Prince Sihamoni or who else will be an appropriate successor to Norodom Sihanouk.” This was seen as a strong signal that Sihanouk wants Sihamoni, 51, who lives in France, to succeed him. … President Megawati Sukarnoputri of Indonesia filed no complaint over the Sept. 20 presidential elections by yesterday’s deadline, effectively conceding defeat. The Constitutional Court declared Monday that Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had won Indonesia’s first direct vote for president with 60.88 percent of valid ballots to Mrs. Megawati’s 39.12 percent. Mr. Yudhoyono and running mate Jusuf Kalla are to be sworn in Oct. 20.

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