- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 13, 2006

CHINA

Taiwanese opposition visits Beijing for talks

BEIJING — Taiwan’s opposition politicians arrived in Beijing yesterday for an economic forum with China’s ruling Communist Party, which is seeking to isolate the Taiwanese leader and court opinion on the island.

Lien Chan, former chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT), Taiwan’s main opposition party, is leading more than 100 politicians and business representatives at the two-day forum opening today. Participants will discuss direct air links between Taiwan and the mainland and other ways to broaden trade, but with only opposition politicians representing Taiwan, it is unlikely to bring immediate policy changes.

Before retiring in August, Mr. Lien visited the mainland in April, ending decades of hostility between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party. Shortly after arriving in Beijing yesterday, he again urged reconciliation between China and Taiwan. Chen Shui-bian, president of the Republic of China (Taiwan), leans toward independence for the island.

NORTH KOREA

Japan’s conclusion on abductees rejected

PYONGYANG — North Korea yesterday rejected Japan’s conclusion from DNA analysis that the husband of Megumi Yokota, a Japanese abducted by North Korea, is most likely a South Korean whom the North also kidnapped, branding it an attempt to bring the South into a bitter bilateral dispute.

Song Il-ho, North Korea’s ambassador in charge of diplomatic-normalization talks with Japan, told Japan’s Kyodo News that Tokyo’s conclusion that Kim Young-nam, who disappeared in South Korea in 1978 at age 16, is probably the husband of Mrs. Yokota, is unacceptable.

Mr. Song is the first North Korean senior official to comment on the Japanese government’s announcement Tuesday on the result of the DNA analysis. Asked about how Pyongyang would respond, Mr. Song said: “I believe the basic purpose of this is to bring South Korea into the abduction dispute. This is meaningless.”

VIETNAM

Scandals shake Communist Party

HANOI — Vietnam must address the rampant corruption that threatens the very survival of its Communist Party, a member of the Politburo said yesterday in connection with a major embezzlement scandal.

Politburo member Phan Dien said insufficient steps had been taken to prevent corruption, embezzlement and wrongdoing in party and state organizations and called for the issue to be addressed at the Communist Party Congress next week.

Vietnam has been rocked by a scandal in which millions of dollars, including foreign funds intended for infrastructure projects, were siphoned off by the Transport Ministry’s now notorious Project Management Unit 18.

Weekly notes …

The Australian government announced yesterday that all asylum seekers who make it by boat to its mainland will be transferred to offshore immigration centers for assessment of their claims. The new policy, immediately condemned by Amnesty International, is apparently a concession to Indonesia after a rift in bilateral ties over Australia’s decision to grant asylum to 42 Papuans who arrived by boat. … Indonesian police asked Playboy magazine yesterday to stop publishing its Indonesian edition out of concern it could enrage Muslims, and Playboy executives said they are considering the request. Police and government officials had said earlier there was no reason to ban the magazine, which contains no nudity and is no more risque than scores of other publications sold in the Indonesia.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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