- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 23, 2005

NORTH KOREA

Nukes are defensive, U.S. lawmakers told

SEOUL — A top North Korean official has told U.S. legislators that the communist state possessed nuclear weapons, Radio Free Asia has reported.

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan said the country was a nuclear-weapons state, but its nuclear arsenal was defensive in nature and Pyongyang did not intend to possess it forever, the radio quoted U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon as saying. The Pennsylvania Republican led a six-member delegation to North Korea earlier this month.

North Korea is believed to possess at least one nuclear weapon and possibly more than eight. It has boasted to have transformed spent plutonium from reactors into materials for nuclear weapons, but has never formally declared it possessed nuclear weapons.

INDIA

Man survives tsunami, 25 days on island

PORT BLAIR — Waving a flag made of his clothes, a tsunami victim dressed only in his underwear was rescued after surviving alone for 25 days on a flattened island in India’s Andaman and Nicobar archipelago, authorities said yesterday.

A total of 1,899 persons were declared dead across the island group in the wake of the Dec. 26 tsunami. Yesterday, officials on Campbell Bay island reported that a Nicobarese man named Michael Mangal was spotted on deserted Pillow Panja island on Wednesday.

VATICAN CITY

Pope reaffirms no-condom stand

VATICAN CITY — Pope John Paul yesterday stressed that the Roman Catholic Church believed abstinence and fidelity within marriage, and not condoms, were the best way to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The pope’s words, spoken to a new ambassador to the Vatican, took on an added significance, being his first direct comment on the controversial topic since a Catholic official in Spain last week appeared to question the church’s stand against condoms.

The church opposes condoms in all except the rarest of circumstances because they are a form of contraception.

The condom debate made the front pages of newspapers around the world last week after Father Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, secretary-general of the Spanish bishops conference, said they could have “a place in the global approach to tackling AIDS.”

The next day, the conference effectively retracted his statement, saying there had not been any change in the church’s position on the use of condoms.

MALDIVES

Opposition protests tsunami-delayed vote

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — People in the tsunami-stricken Maldives voted yesterday in a parliamentary election, dismissed as a sham by the opposition but praised by the government as a vote of confidence for reform.

The election was postponed from Dec. 31, days after the tsunami crashed into many of the country’s 1,200 idyllic coral islands, killing 82 persons and destroying many of its famed resorts.

Some clashes were reported on election day, and a government spokesman said authorities arrested at least five opposition supporters for making trouble.

LIBERIA

Czech arms suspect leaves prison

MONROVIA — A Czech businessman accused of illegally exporting arms to several countries, including Iraq, has been allowed to leave prison in Monrovia, where he was detained last month, a U.N. official said yesterday.

Dalibor Kopp, 42, who had fled the Czech Republic after being charged in April, walked out of jail Friday, with the help of an unnamed Liberian official, U.N. Special Envoy Abu Musa told Agence France-Presse.

Mr. Kopp was arrested in December by Jordanian troops of the U.N. mission in Liberia at the request of Interpol and handed over to the Liberian authorities. He left hours before the expected arrival of Interpol officers today to take him back to the Czech Republic.

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