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KOREA

Senior N. Korea defector dies

SEOUL | Hwang Jang-yop, the intellectual force behind the philosophy of self-reliance that guided North Korea and a top official in the Workers’ Party that still rules the communist nation, has died.

Mr. Hwang, considered North Korea’s chief ideologist, defected from the Pyongyang regime in 1997, during a visit to China, triggering a five-week diplomatic standoff.

Safely in South Korea, he spoke out about the danger posed not just to the Korean peninsula but to the world by the dictatorship in the North, and said trying to persuade the North to give up its nuclear ambition was hopeless so long as Kim Jong-il was in power.

Mr. Hwang’s naked body was found Sunday morning in a bathtub at his home in Seoul. Foul play was not initially suspected, but an autopsy was planned. Mr. Hwang was 87.

CHILE

Rescue of miners to begin Wednesday

SAN JOSE MINE | After more than two months trapped deep in a Chilean mine, 33 miners were enjoying Sunday tantalizingly close to rescue as workers began reinforcing an escape shaft. Chile’s mining minister said a video inspection showed the hole’s walls are firm enough to allow the men to be hoisted out as early as Wednesday.

Officials said late Saturday that workers first must reinforce the top few hundred feet of the tunnel and had begun welding steel pipes for that purpose, and rescue operations chief Andre Sougarret said they began the work early Sunday

The plan is to insert 16 steel tubes, each about 20 feet long into the tunnel that was drilled down to the miners’ cavern.

Completion of the 28-inch-diameter escape shaft Saturday morning caused bedlam in the tent city known as “Camp Hope,” where the miners’ relatives had held vigil for an agonizing 66 days since a cave-in sealed off the gold and copper mine Aug. 5.

Miners videotaped the piston-powered hammer drill’s breakthrough at 2,041 feet underground and could be seen cheering and embracing, the drillers said.

PAKISTAN

Afghan border crossing reopened to NATO troops

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