Negotiators fail to set deadlines
BEIJING — Arms negotiators failed to agree on a deadline for North Korea to disable its nuclear facilities, the United States said yesterday, casting doubt on when Pyongyang will proceed with its promised disarmament after shuttering its sole operating reactor.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher R. Hill entered the six-nation talks this week saying he hoped to get a commitment from the North to declare its nuclear programs and disable them by year's end, rendering the communist nation unable to easily make more bombs.
But on the eve of the talks' end today, he said the sides had agreed to have working groups of specialists pore over technical details for those next steps before the top envoys from all sides endorse a time frame. The working groups likely will meet by the end of August, he said.
Victims urge review of nuke plant safety
TOKYO — Survivors of the world's only atomic attacks called yesterday on Japan to review the safety of nuclear plants after a powerful earthquake caused radioactive leakage.
"Even if the leakage was very small, this is not permissible after an earthquake," said Gensuikin, a group representing victims of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Japan has been sensitive about nuclear issues due to the U.S. atomic attacks at the end of World War II, which killed more than 210,000 people instantly. Tens of thousands later died from radiation and horrific burns.
But Japan's government has embraced atomic energy. Despite being one of the most earthquake-prone nations, the world's second-largest economy has virtually no oil or gas resources.
Hu urges greater efforts on Darfur
BEIJING — Chinese President Hu Jintao urged the global community yesterday to push forward the peace process in Darfur, state press reported, ahead of a U.N. vote expected this week on deploying peacekeepers in Sudan's western province.
"The international community should seize the current favorable moment to push forward in a balanced way peacekeeping operations and the political process," Xinhua news agency quoted Mr. Hu as saying.
The global community must "help the Sudan government improve the humanitarian and security situation in the Darfur region and push the issue toward resolution," he said in talks with visiting Sudanese Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit.
Pollution levels high in green town
BEIJING — A Chinese town that has won more than 30 awards for its clean environment over the past decade has become a heavily polluted cesspool with abnormally high cancer rates, state press said yesterday.
The town of Dawang in eastern Shandong province has won accolades including "China's Most Livable New Township," but a recent spurt in development has made a mockery of those awards, the Beijing News reported.
An investigation by the newspaper found that the town was choked by smog and water pollution due to years of "illegal operations" by industrial companies based there.
Defector appeals for brother's life
SEOUL — A defector from North Korea appealed yesterday for international help to stop the execution of his brother, saying he faces death in the hard-line communist state because of his Christian faith.
Son Jung-nam, 49, was arrested in January 2006, said his brother Son Jung-hoon. Son Jung-nam was later sentenced to public execution.
"All he did wrong was accepting the Christian faith and reading the Bible," he told journalists in South Korea where he lives.
Son Jung-nam, a former elite soldier, fled the North to China in 1998 after his wife was arrested and tortured for criticizing the communist regime to her pupils, according to Son Jung-hoon. He was arrested in China in 2001, where he became a Christian, before being returned to the North for imprisonment.
Police break up peasant protest
HANOI — Vietnamese security forces have broken up a protest by hundreds of peasants who have been rallying in southern Ho Chi Minh City against land seizures for nearly a month, demonstrators said yesterday.
Police cleared the protest outside the National Assembly office just before midnight, some of the demonstrators told Agence France-Presse by telephone.
Land conflicts have become increasingly common in booming Vietnam, amid rapid industrialization and urbanization.
From wire dispatches and staff reports