- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 7, 2005

AUSTRALIA

Malaysian leader cool to Aussie plans

CANBERRA — Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi of Malaysia shied away yesterday from endorsing Australian moves to join a new East Asia summit, dealing a setback to Canberra’s plans for a renewed push into Asia.

The first official visit to Australia by a Malaysian prime minister in 20 years was intended to smooth over the relationship under Mahathir Mohamad, who opposed Australia’s joining Asian bodies.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono this week backed the idea of Australia and New Zealand joining the summit, created by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), South Korea, China and Japan. It meets for the first time in Malaysia this year.

NEPAL

Gyanendra to visit China and Indonesia

KATMANDU — King Gyanendra plans to visit neighboring China and Indonesia this month, his first foreign trip since dismissing the government and assuming full power.

A palace statement yesterday said the king would arrive in China on April 24 to attend the Asian economic conference at Boao in Hainan province. He and Queen Komal are to return to Katmandu on April 29, the announcement said.

Before visiting China, Gyanendra — who sacked the government, suspended civil liberties and jailed opponents on Feb. 1 — will go to Indonesia to participate in the Asian-African summit April 22 to 23.

Weekly notes

Hong Kong’s decision to ask China to intervene in a dispute over how long its next leader should serve signals an erosion of the enclave’s autonomy, analysts said yesterday. The former British colony was guaranteed a high degree of autonomy for 50 years under a “one country, two systems” policy in 1997, but the decision by caretaker leader Donald Tsang to ask Beijing to intervene in a leadership dispute will encourage the mainland to exert wider influence, analysts said. … Burmese Prime Minister Soe Win received a ceremonial welcome in Vietnam yesterday as an official newspaper in Hanoi signaled firm backing for Burma’s role in regional meetings. The lieutenant general, in Hanoi at the invitation of Prime Minister Phan Van Khai, is on a swing through Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia — the three other poorest members of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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