- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 26, 2009

SOUTH KOREA

Rocket fails to launch satellite

SEOUL | South Korea’s first rocket launch Tuesday failed to push a satellite into orbit, but the flawed mission may still anger rival North Korea, coming just months after the communist nation’s own launch drew international condemnation.

The two-stage Naro rocket, whose first stage was designed by Russia, was South Korea’s first launch of a rocket from its own territory. The rocket was carrying a domestically built satellite aimed at observing the atmosphere and oceans. Russia’s Interfax-AVN military news agency, citing a Russian space industry source, said the satellite never reached orbit and problems occurred in the South Korean-built second stage of the rocket.

Also Tuesday, a South Korean newspaper reported that North Korea has invited top envoys of President Obama for the first nuclear negotiations between the two countries during his presidency, but Washington quickly said it has no plans to send the envoys to Pyongyang.

HONDURAS

U.S. to reduce visa services

The United States said Tuesday that it would temporarily stop issuing many visas in Honduras, a step that may be designed to pressure the de facto government that took power after a June 28 coup to step down.

The State Department, which has repeatedly condemned the coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya, said it would provide visa services only to potential immigrants and emergency cases at its embassy in Tegucigalpa.

The Obama administration has urged Honduran authorities to accept proposals put forward by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, whose efforts to end the crisis have stalled over the de facto government’s refusal to allow Mr. Zelaya to return to power.

RUSSIA

Chechen bombing kills four policemen

ROSTOV-ON-DON | A suicide bombing in Chechnya killed four police officers Tuesday, authorities in the restive Russian region said.

Magomed Diniyev, a spokesman for the Chechen Interior Ministry, said the blast took place about midday in a gas station-car wash complex in the town of Mesker-Yurt, 12 miles southeast of the capital, Grozny.

One police officer and two civilians were also wounded in the blast, the ministry said.

ITALY

Grotto waters dirtied by cesspool

ROME | Police say they have made Capri’s Blue Grotto off limits to tourists after its waters started smelling bad.

The closure was ordered a week after police discovered that raw cesspool sewage was being dumped into the cave’s deep-blue waters.

Health and environmental authorities were investigating Tuesday to see whether the stink and an unexplained white foam might have been caused by the cesspool dumping earlier this month.

Police have arrested two men who reportedly were found using a hose to pump contents of some of the island’s cesspools directly into the waters.

RUSSIA

Nothing suspicious reported on ship

MOSCOW | Russia said Tuesday that nothing suspicious was found aboard the Arctic Sea ship, whose seizure by suspected pirates off the coast of Europe this month sparked a media storm.

Media reports had speculated that the vessel had a secret cargo of arms or even nuclear materials, saying a ship carrying timber in some of the world’s best policed seas would be an unlikely target for pirates.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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