- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 10, 2007

Finance ministers press China on yuan

ESSEN, Germany — China came under renewed pressure yesterday from the Group of Seven to make its yuan more flexible, while Japan emerged from the meeting without a public scolding, despite criticism beforehand that its weakened yen was hurting other economies.

China’s tight control of its currency and huge trade surpluses have raised concerns in the West. The G-7 lauded a commitment by China to “rebalance growth” but called on the country to let the yuan have greater flexibility to respond to market movements.

When the G-7 formed, comprising Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States, China was an insular, closed communist state. In the three decades since then, China’s growth has exploded as it embraces elements of capitalism.

China has amassed more than $1 trillion in foreign currency reserves as it buys dollars to control the value of the yuan — a practice G-7 finance ministers have criticized in the past.

EGYPT

6 persons hospitalized with bird-flu symptoms

CAIRO — Six Egyptians were hospitalized yesterday after showing symptoms of bird flu as authorities fear a global surge in infections by the deadly virus, the official MENA news agency said.

The six, including a 3-year-old girl and a 24-year-old woman in critical condition, are from villages around the town of Fayoum, south of Cairo, and are known to have come into contact with poultry, MENA said.

Test samples for the six were sent to health ministry laboratories, MENA said, adding that the poultry also was being tested because some of the birds had died.

Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous state, is on a major route for migratory birds. The H5N1 strain of bird flu was first diagnosed in humans in Egypt in March 2006.

AFGHANISTAN

Militants kill 4 police in truck ambush

KANDAHAR — Taliban militants ambushed a truck full of Afghan police in southern Afghanistan, killing four officers and injuring three, but a separate gunfight left 11 Taliban fighters dead, officials said yesterday.

The attack occurred Friday evening in the Panjwayi district of Kandahar province, said provincial police chief Afmatullah Alizai.

Panjwayi was the scene of NATO’s largest ground battle in September, when alliance forces killed more than 500 militants, largely clearing the region of insurgents.

In nearby Helmand province, a convoy of NATO and Afghan troops came under fire, touching off a four-hour gunbattle that left 11 Taliban dead, said provincial police chief Ghulam Nabi Malakhail.

NORTH KOREA

Deal on dismantling nukes remains elusive

BEIJING — Negotiators on North Korea’s nuclear programs engaged in intense diplomacy yesterday, but a deal in which the communist state would take its first real steps to disarm remained elusive.

Japan’s top envoy told reporters that a resolution had yet to be reached, though talks continue today.

The United States and other countries are trying to extract from North Korea a commitment to make its first true steps toward abandoning its nuclear programs since the negotiations began in 2003. That goal has become more pressing since the North tested its first nuclear bomb in October, during one of the many deadlocks in the talks.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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