- - Sunday, October 17, 2010


Missing boat, crew found adrift

HANOI | Nine Vietnamese fishermen detained by China near disputed islands in September who were set free last week and then lost at sea have been located and taken to safety, the Vietnamese government said.

The detention of the Vietnamese sailors was the latest incident in a web of complex, long-running territorial disputes in the South China Sea and had threatened to become an irritant at an Asia-Pacific defense ministers meeting in Hanoi last week.

China freed the sailors on Oct. 11 — exactly one month after they were detained and a day before the defense ministers were set to meet.

But they had not returned to port in central Vietnam within the expected period of time, sparking concern and leading Vietnam to ask for Chinese help in searching for the trawler.

The Vietnamese government website, www.chinhphu.vn, reported that the boat’s engine had died and the sailors used blankets as sails before a Chinese patrol vessel found them adrift and brought them to an island in the disputed Paracel archipelago, near where they had been fishing in the first place.

Bad weather would keep them on the island for a few more days, the website said in a report seen on Sunday.


Ex-prime minister stages comeback

ANKARA | Turkey’s first Islamist prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan, has staged a political comeback at the age of 83 by becoming leader Sunday of the small Saadet party, the Anatolia news agency reported.

Mr. Erbakan was elected unopposed as president of Saadet (Felicity), which won less than 3 percent of votes in the last parliamentary elections in 2007 and a little over 5 percent in last year’s municipal balloting.

He became prime minister of a coalition government in 1996 before being forced to resign under pressure from the military — the staunch defenders of Turkey’s secular constitution — after just one year in office.

His Refah (Welfare) party was subsequently banned by the constitutional court in January 1998, and Mr. Erbakan was handed a two-year prison term in 2002 on embezzlement charges, although the sentence was later commuted to house arrest.


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