- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 8, 2006

NORTH KOREA

No return to talks, Pyongyang aide says

SEOUL — North Korea reiterated its pledge not to return to nuclear disarmament talks after a meeting with U.S. officials about the communist regime’s purportedly illicit financial activity, a top North Korean diplomat was quoted as saying.

At a meeting yesterday in New York, the United States emphasized that moves against a Macao bank where Pyongyang held accounts were part of regulatory moves “to protect the U.S. financial system from abuse, and not a sanction on North Korea,” the U.S. Treasury Department said.

“Our position is consistent that [North Korea] cannot return to the talks in the midst of the continued pressure [from the United States],” Ri Gun, director-general of the North Korean Foreign Ministry’s American affairs bureau, said after the talks, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.

SWEDEN

Airport evacuated after robbery

STOCKHOLM — Masked gunmen crashed through an airport fence yesterday, held up luggage handlers unloading crates of foreign currency from an airliner and left behind a suspicious package that looked like a bomb, police said.

Stunned passengers waiting to disembark the Scandinavian Airlines jet that had just arrived from London witnessed the brazen robbery at the Landvetter airport outside Goteborg, Sweden’s second-largest city.

It was not known how much foreign currency the robbers stole, but authorities called it “a big sum.”

UGANDA

Opposition leader cleared of rape

KAMPALA — Uganda’s High Court cleared opposition leader Kizza Besigye of rape charges yesterday, saying the prosecution failed “dismally” to prove its case.

Mr. Besigye had argued that the government fabricated the charge in an attempt to keep him from challenging President Yoweri Museveni in elections last month. Mr. Museveni, who has held power for more than 20 years, won a new term, and Mr. Besigye’s Forum for Democratic Change has pledged to challenge the result in court.

JAPAN

Rally seeks protection of imperial tradition

TOKYO — Thousands of people gathered under a huge rising sun flag at a Tokyo stadium yesterday to protest a proposal to allow women and their children to accede to Japan’s ancient Chrysanthemum throne.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi last month abandoned a plan to submit a bill to parliament to let women inherit the imperial throne, after news that Princess Kiko, the wife of the emperor’s younger son, was pregnant with what many hope will be a male heir.

MALI

Blues performer Toure dies

BAMAKO — Two-time Grammy Award winner Ali Farka Toure, one of Africa’s most famous performers, died yesterday in his native Mali after a long illness. He was in his late 60s.

Mali’s Culture Ministry said Mr. Toure died at his home in the capital, Bamako. He was known to be battling cancer.

Mr. Toure, one of the progenitors of a genre known as Mail Blues, played a traditional Malian stringed instrument called the gurke. He was best-known overseas for his 1995 collaboration with American guitarist Ry Cooder on “Talking Timbuktu,” which netted him his first of two Grammys.

GERMANY

Police raid lairs of skinhead suspects

BERLIN — Police raided more than 119 buildings across Germany yesterday in a hunt for suspected members of the banned neo-Nazi group Blood & Honor.

In raids in Bavaria, police seized a hand grenade, a 7.65 mm firearm and Blood & Honor memorabilia such as T-shirts, compact discs, posters and videos.

All Nazi and neo-Nazi regalia and insignia are banned in Germany.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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