- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 22, 2010

VIETNAM

Clinton to engage China at talks

HANOI | Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in Vietnam on Thursday for Asia-Pacific security talks involving China and North Korea amid tensions over the sinking of a South Korean warship.

State Department officials said Mrs. Clinton would ask Beijing to increase the pressure on its communist ally North Korea during bilateral talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Hanoi later Thursday.

CHINA

Pipeline repaired as cleanup continues

BEIJING | China National Petroleum Corp. said Thursday a vital pipeline has resumed operations after an explosion caused the country’s largest reported oil spill.

Cleanup efforts - marred by the drowning death of a worker, his body coated in crude - continued over a 165-square-mile stretch of water blanketed in thick, dark oil Thursday, after an official warned the spill posed a severe threat to sea life and water quality.

The slick emptied beaches as its size doubled Wednesday.

It remained unclear exactly how much oil has escaped the pipeline six days after it exploded for reasons unknown at a busy northeastern port. State media has said no more oil is leaking into the Yellow Sea.

FIJI

Leader seeks break with past

SUVA | Pacific island nations need to “break the shackles” of their colonial past, Fiji leader Voreqe Bainimarama told regional states Thursday as he claimed a diplomatic victory over Australia.

At the opening of his hastily arranged “Engaging the Pacific” conference, Mr. Bainimarama also spoke of a need to enhance new diplomatic ties, saying the region was attracting interest from Arab nations.

Mr. Bainimarama’s conference was arranged after the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) summit, scheduled to take place in Fiji this week, was canceled last week over concerns about a lack of democratic reform in the country.

Ten island states are attending the new conference, including the leaders of the Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu, with Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare also expected to arrive.

Mr. Bainimarama, who seized power in a 2006 military coup, accused Australia of scuttling the five-member MSG summit, but he told The Australian newspaper that Canberra’s diplomatic effort had backfired.

NORTH KOREA

Dance spectacle to be staged

SEOUL | North Korea will stage its massive dance-and-tumbling extravaganza known as the Arirang Festival next month, apparently cranking up its domestic propaganda efforts as tensions linger over the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship blamed on Pyongyang.

The show typically feature thousands of gymnasts in synchronized maneuvers and giant mosaics formed by children turning pieces of colored paper. But it has been criticized as a propaganda tool achieved through the rigid and disciplined training of its young performers.

AUSTRALIA

Rudd in talks over U.N. role

SYDNEY | Ousted Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Thursday confirmed talks over a possible United Nations role but said he did not plan to quit the national parliament.

Mr. Rudd, who was replaced by Julia Gillard last month in a party coup, said he had discussed a “development” role with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, after reports linked him with a new climate-change position.

“Among other matters, [Mr. Ban] raised the possibility of Rudd being appointed to a United Nations panel that might look at a number of issues related to development,” Mr. Rudd’s spokesman said in a statement.

He added that the role would not require Mr. Rudd to move to New York or abandon his parliamentary seat. Mr. Rudd proved a distraction to Miss Gillard’s campaign for Aug. 21 elections when he was mobbed by media on Wednesday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports