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Briefly: Asia

- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 17, 2010

SOUTH KOREA

North apologizes over Chinese deaths

SEOUL | North Korea has paid thousands of dollars in compensation to the relatives of three Chinese nationals fatally shot by its border guards this month, an online newspaper said Wednesday.

Daily NK quoted an unidentified North Korean businessman in Dandong, China, as saying that a North Korean delegation visited the border town this week and apologised over the June 4 shooting.

The delegation paid $3,000 each to the families of the victims in accordance with a treaty between the two allies, he said. Three Chinese nationals were killed and one injured when North Korean border forces opened fire along the shared frontier on June 4, according to China's state media.

Beijing, which provides vital economic and diplomatic support to the impoverished North, lodged a formal diplomatic protest with Pyongyang over the killings, in a rare show of discord between the allies. The North Korean delegation told Dandong authorities that those responsible would be severely punished for both killing Chinese nationals and trafficking in antiques, it said.

According to Daily NK, the North Korean border guards fired on the Chinese, who were engaged in illegal trade, as they tried to get away after an altercation over an overdue payment owed to the North reans.

THAILAND

Foreigners accused of inciting riots

BANGKOK | A Briton and an Australian who joined Thailand's anti-government protests were charged Thursday with inciting violence and committing other crimes that could lead to two years in prison.

Both men denied the charges of violating an emergency decree imposed during the two-month protests and still in effect. Street clashes between so-called Red Shirt protesters and government forces killed almost 90 people and injured more than 1,400 before they were ended last month.

Briton Jeff Savage, 48, screamed abusive comments about Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva as he was led past reporters, calling him "a murderer" and insulting Mr. Abhisit's wife.

Australian Conor Purcell, 30, is accused of inciting violence by making incendiary speeches on the main stage at the protesters' encampment. "I'm confident I can beat the charges," Mr. Purcell said to reporters.

Video footage surfaced on the Internet of Mr. Savage purportedly stating his intention to set fire to the Central World shopping mall, one of Thailand's largest, after the military broke up the protests May 19. Later in the day, the shopping mall was devastated by an arson fire.

CAMBODIA

U.S. returns Buddhist treasures

PHNOM PENH | The United States returned seven sculptures from the great Angkorian era on Thursday that had been smuggled out of Cambodia.

Buddhist monks blessed the artifacts during a handover ceremony at the port of Sihanoukville, said John Johnson, a U.S. Embassy spokesman. The sandstone sculptures were recovered by U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials during a 2008 raid in Los Angeles.

Mr. Johnson said the artifacts include two heads of the Buddha, a bas-relief and an engraved plinth. The items date from 1000 to 1500, when the kings of Angkor ruled over an extensive empire and produced some of the world's most magnificent temples, including the famed Angkor Wat complex.

Cambodia and the United States signed an agreement to protect Cambodia's cultural heritage in 2003.

JAPAN

Dolphin film to be seen on Web

TOKYO | Japanese will finally get to see "The Cove" - but as streaming video on the Internet, not at movie theaters, as screenings of the dolphin-hunt documentary have been canceled owing to nationalists' protests.

Niwango Inc., a Tokyo-based Internet-services company, said Thursday the Oscar-winning documentary that depicts the annual dolphin hunt in the small village of Taiji will be shown on its site Friday free of charge.

About 20 theaters in Japan had planned to show the film but canceled, one by one, after protesters made threatening phone calls and screamed slogans outside the distributor's Tokyo office and other spots.

Nationalists oppose the film as a denigration of Japanese culture.

Niwango said it will invite an exchange of views by e-mail and Twitter and will air another show Monday outlining the film's controversy with speakers, including nationalist Kunio Suzuki, who has mixed feelings about the film but thinks it should be shown.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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