- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 8, 2009

KYRGYZSTAN

President signs U.S. base deal

BISHKEK | Kyrgyzstan’s president has signed into a law an agreement allowing U.S. military forces to continue using a crucial air base to ship supplies to troops in Afghanistan.

President Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s office said Tuesday that the deal approved last week will take immediate effect.

The decision reverses an eviction order announced by Mr. Bakiyev in February that would have kicked U.S. forces out of the Manas base by August.

Being allowed to keep using Manas gives a much-needed boost to the U.S.-led coalition as it ramps up military operations against Taliban and al Qaeda militants in Afghanistan.

Under the new deal, the U.S. will pay Kyrgyzstan $60 million in annual rent for the facility, up from $17.4 million.

SOUTH KOREA

U.S. willing to talk about missile plan

SEOUL | The United States is open to talks on the possibility of South Korea developing ballistic missiles capable of striking all of North Korea, a South Korean defense ministry official said Tuesday.

A senior general at the U.S. command in Seoul told aides to South Korean lawmakers last week that the allies can discuss the revision of a 2001 accord barring the South from developing missiles with a range of more than 186 miles, the ministry official said.

He spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing department policy and refused to identify the American general.

But Kim Yong-kyu, a U.S. military spokesman, said Maj. Gen. Frank Panter of the Seoul command told the deputies on Thursday that the issue could be discussed at annual defense ministerial talks or through other channels if South Korea proposes it.

ITALY

Evacuation plan set for summit

L’AQUILA | With the world’s most powerful leaders gathering in this city just three months after a devastating earthquake, Italian security officials have prepared an emergency evacuation plan to airlift the leaders to safety in case of another powerful tremor.

The evacuation plan is part of massive security measures to protect the leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations meeting in L’Aquila starting Wednesday.

The April 6 earthquake leveled entire blocks in L’Aquila and the surrounding Abruzzo region, driving some 54,000 people from their homes and killing 296. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi decided to move the summit from a posh Sardinian island to L’Aquila in a show of support to the stricken population.

But since the quake, daily aftershocks have hit the area. On Friday, a magnitude-4.1 tremor hit just about a mile away from the police barracks that will host President Obama and the other leaders.

JAPAN

Bill permits search of N. Korean ships

TOKYO | Japan’s Cabinet on Tuesday sent to parliament a bill that would authorize Japan’s coast guard to inspect North Korean ships for nuclear- and missile-related materials, in line with a U.N. resolution.

The bill would allow the coast guard to inspect ships both on the high seas and in Japanese waters. However, inspectors would first be required to get approval from the captain of any ship targeted and from its country of origin.

North Korea has warned that it will not tolerate inspection of its ships by Japan.

VATICAN CITY

Pope proposes new financial order

VATICAN CITY | Pope Benedict XVI called Tuesday for a new world financial order guided by ethics, dignity and the search for the common good in the third encyclical of his pontificate.

In “Charity in Truth,” Benedict denounced the profit-at-all-cost mentality of the globalized economy and lamented that greed had brought about the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

“Profit is useful if it serves as a means toward an end,” he wrote. “Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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