- The Washington Times - Friday, August 7, 2009

NORTH KOREA

Clinton sought release of others

SEOUL | Former President Bill Clinton urged North Korea to free detained South Koreans and make progress on the issue of abducted Japanese citizens, South Korean and Japanese officials said Thursday.

Mr. Clinton made the requests to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il during a rare meeting in Pyongyang on Tuesday that secured the freedom of two American journalists detained for 140 days for purportedly entering the North illegally, the officials said.

North Korea has been holding a South Korean worker at a North-South joint industrial zone since late March for purportedly denouncing its communist regime. Last week, the North also seized a South Korean fishing boat with four fishermen after it accidentally strayed into northern waters.

South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Moon Tae-young said he understood that Mr. Clinton conveyed to North Korea that the South Korean worker and fishermen “should be released on humanitarian grounds.”

PAKISTAN

Bus falls into river; 34 thought dead

PESHAWAR | A bus veered off a narrow mountain road Thursday and plunged into a river in northern Pakistan, leaving about 34 people missing and feared dead, police said.

The bus ran off the road near the scenic tourist destination of Gilgit, police official Mohammed Nasir said.

He said rescue teams had been sent to the area, but so far no bodies had been recovered from the fast-flowing Indus River.

The bus cleaner managed to jump off the vehicle before it fell into the water, and he told officials that soldiers were among the dozens of passengers on the vehicle, said Manzur Hussain, another police officer in the area.

JAPAN

Abolish nukes, Hiroshima mayor says

HIROSHIMA | Hiroshima’s mayor urged world leaders Thursday to back President Obama’s call to abolish nuclear weapons as Japan marked the 64th anniversary of the world’s first atomic bomb attack.

In April, Mr. Obama said that the United States - the only nation that has deployed atomic bombs in combat - has a “moral responsibility” to act and declared his goal to rid the world of the weapons.

At a solemn ceremony to commemorate the casualties of the Aug. 6, 1945, attack, Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba welcomed that commitment.

LAOS

Woman to serve life term in Britain

VIENTIANE | A pregnant Briton sentenced to life imprisonment in Laos for trafficking heroin has been transferred to British custody and will be sent home to serve her sentence there, a diplomat said Thursday.

Samantha Orobator, 20, was sentenced in June after pleading guilty to drug trafficking. Police said they found 1.5 pounds of heroin in 68 capsules on Orobator’s body when she was arrested at Vientiane airport last August on her way to Australia.

Her case drew widespread attention in Britain over fear she could be executed by a firing squad and reports - later discounted by her mother - that she was raped in prison. Her mother, Jane, has said the father is not a Lao prison official but has refused to divulge his identity.

Heroin trafficking is punishable in Laos by death, but Orobator was spared because the law does not allow the execution of pregnant women.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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