- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 17, 2005

PHILIPPINES

Treaty change eyed regarding U.S. forces

MANILA — Lawmakers here want to revise the terms of a security pact with the United States that they say is biased toward American troops in the Philippines, a senator said yesterday.

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, chairwoman of the foreign relations committee in the upper house of Congress, called for a new Visiting Forces Agreement that would require the United States to hand over troops suspected of serious crimes in the Philippines.

The terms of the current VFA came to light this month when six U.S. Marines were accused of gang-raping a 22-year-old Filipina, said the senator, a close ally of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The Marines, who have not been charged, remain in U.S. custody because the current VFA forces Manila to waive primary jurisdiction in criminal cases involving U.S. troops.

VIETNAM

Bird flu infects 14 districts

HANOI — Fourteen cities and provinces have been hit by bird-flu outbreaks since early October, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development announced yesterday.

The number of poultry killed by the disease or culled exceeds 600,000 in those provinces and cities, according to the ministry’s Animal Health Department, and the government has vaccinated more than 120 million fowl nationwide.

Cao Duc Phat, the agriculture minister and head of the national steering committee for combating bird flu, has criticized some provinces for concealing outbreaks or reporting them belatedly, and asked residents and local governments to immediately report outbreaks.

MALAYSIA

Bomb maker buried in hometown

JASIN — The body of one of Asia’s most wanted militants, killed in a shootout with Indonesian police, was returned yesterday to his homeland, Malaysia, for burial.

The body of Azahari Husin, 48, considered an expert bomb maker, was flown from Jakarta and taken in a hearse to his hometown, officials said. A police car escorted the hearse. Indonesian police killed Azahari in a raid last week after discovering his hide-out in an East Java town.

Weekly notes …

About 200 North Korean officials are receiving training abroad each year on international commerce and trade-related issues, South Korean Unification Vice Minister Rhee Bong-jo said yesterday. Mr. Rhee told reporters that the countries offering training on market economy for North Korean officials include China, Britain, Germany, Australia and Vietnam. Funding comes from agencies of the United Nations and other international organizations, he added. … A Japanese hair salon was ordered this week to pay the equivalent of $2,000 in compensation to a woman who sued the hairdresser for cutting her hair too short and dying it the wrong color. A Tokyo court agreed with the 27-year-old cabaret club hostess’s assertion that the unflattering hairstyle affected her ability to do her job.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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