- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 3, 2005

VIETNAM

Warnings issued as bird-flu fear spreads

HANOI — Thinking about giving your pet parrot a little kiss? It’s not advised in Hong Kong. This government warning is just one of the more colorful pronouncements by officials in Asian nations as bird-flu fears spread faster than the virus itself.

On Tuesday, Vietnam banned the sale of one of its specialty appetizers — duck blood pudding, which has been blamed for passing bird flu to people. Vietnam, hit hardest by the H5N1 virus with more than 40 deaths, also has offered citizens and tourists a bit of comfort: Anyone sickened by the virus there will get free hospital treatment.

In the Philippines, officials announced that athletes from bird-flu-affected countries coming to Manila for the 23rd Southeast Asian Games this month will be banned from visiting aviaries and poultry farms. Wild birds have been blamed for spreading bird flu across Asia and into Europe. New Zealand has announced that it will seal its borders if human-to-human transmission is reported.

CHINA

Tokyo, Pyongyang discuss tough issues

BEIJING — Japan and North Korea stated their positions on two thorny topics yesterday, the first day of their first bilateral discussions in a year, and reaffirmed their plan to meet again today, the two sides said.

They discussed North Korea’s kidnappings of Japanese in past decades, a priority topic for Tokyo, and Pyongyang’s demand that Japan atone for its 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, officials said. Both sides were tight-lipped about the specifics of the seven-hour discussion yesterday.

“We presented our respective views and positions and held deep discussions on issues that are of concern to both parties, including the settlement of the past and the abduction issue,” Song Il-ho, vice director of the North Korean Foreign Ministry’s Asian Affairs Department, told reporters.

SOUTH KOREA

APEC meeting brings terrorism concerns

SEOUL — The APEC meeting in South Korea from Nov. 12 to 19 is a potential target for a terrorist attack, although no intelligence points to a specific plot, a senior South Korean intelligence official said yesterday.

The port city of Pusan will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting. Attacks such as the deadly London transit bombings during the Group of Eight summit in Scotland in July indicate that there are groups looking to disrupt major international gatherings, a senior South Korean intelligence official told reporters.

“International terrorist groups feel that these types of events present an excellent opportunity for them to increase the exposure of their propaganda and their doctrines,” said the official, adding: “We do not have any specific intelligence that tells us that there will be a terrorist event during APEC.”

Weekly notes …

China’s fast-growing economy should surpass that of Japan by 2020 and top the U.S. economy around 2050, a World Bank official said yesterday. China’s gross domestic product, which the bank expects will rise 9.3 percent this year and 8.7 percent next year, will continue to grow as the Chinese get wealthier and create a demand-driven services economy, said Bert Hofman, chief of the World Bank office in Beijing. … The Japan Defense Agency has designated the prime minister’s office, the imperial palace and other facilities as top priorities for protection under its missile-defense plan, made public Wednesday. It envisages joint operations of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and U.S. military forces in Japan for missile interception in the event of an attack on Japan. The two allies began a project to set up a missile-defense system after North Korea fired a long-range missile over Japan into the Pacific Ocean in August 1998.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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