- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 15, 2007

CHINA

Bridge collapse in Hunan kills 29

BEIJING — A bridge under construction in an ancient Chinese city collapsed as workers removed scaffolding from its facade, killing at least 29 persons, the government said yesterday.

The 140-foot-high bridge spanning the Tuo River in the central Hunan city of Fenghuang collapsed Monday, the Hunan Administration of Work Safety said in a statement posted to the official Gov.cn Web site.

The span, intended for both pedestrian and vehicle traffic, had four decorative stone arches and was scheduled to open at the end of the month, the administration said.

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao ordered a thorough investigation into the collapse of the 880-foot bridge, China Central Television reported.

JAPAN

Abe avoids visit to Yasukuni shrine

TOKYO — Japan marked the anniversary today of its World War II surrender, but its leaders gave every sign of avoiding visits to a war shrine that in the past has been at the center of diplomatic strife with Japan’s Asian neighbors.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has refused to say whether he will visit Yasukuni Shrine while in office, but press reports have said he will stay away, at least on the anniversary.

All his Cabinet ministers have said they will avoid the shrine today, and public broadcaster NHK said it will be the first time in at least 22 years that the entire Cabinet has stayed away on the war anniversary. Yasukuni honors Japanese military leaders convicted as war criminals along with 2.5 million war dead and is considered a symbol of Japan’s past commitment to the call of duty and to militarism as well.

ISRAEL

Netanyahu sweeps Likud Party race

JERUSALEM — Benjamin Netanyahu has swept the race for leader of Israel’s hard-line Likud Party, party Executive Director Gad Arieli said late yesterday, citing interim results. A win would boost Mr. Netanyahu’s ambitions to reclaim the prime minister’s office.

The partial tally gave 75 percent of the vote to Mr. Netanyahu and 20 percent to far-right West Bank settler Moshe Feiglin. A third candidate, World Likud Chairman Danny Danon, took 5 percent.

Final official results were expected early today.

AFGHANISTAN

Talks continue over Korean hostages

GHAZNI — Taliban leaders and South Korean officials continued negotiations by telephone over the fate of the remaining 19 hostages yesterday, but no new face-to-face talks were planned, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

Two Korean women kidnapped by the Taliban in mid-July were freed Monday on a desert road outside Ghazni into Red Cross custody, the first significant breakthrough in the hostage drama. Two men among the Korean captives were executed by gunfire late last month.

The South Korean Embassy said the two women were transferred from the U.S. base at Ghazni to a safe place in “our care,” and that they were in good condition, awaiting a flight home.

THAILAND

Warrants issued for exiled leader

BANGKOK — Thailand’s Supreme Court issued arrest warrants for exiled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife on corruption charges yesterday.

The nine-judge panel ordered him to be produced in court by Sept. 25, the starting date of the trial of Mr. Thaksin and his wife, after his failure to meet yesterday’s deadline for a voluntary appearance.

From wire dispatches and staff reports