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Briefly: Asia

- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 23, 2010


Two Koreas to meet on family reunions

SEOUL | North and South Korean officials will meet Friday for a second round of talks to try to resume reunions for families separated for decades by war, South Korea's Red Cross said Thursday.

Officials from the two Koreas met last week but failed to agree on arrangements for the program, including a venue for the reunions, which were last held a year ago.

A revival of the program could ease tensions and offer hope to tens of thousands of Koreans who have not seen family members since the war sealed the peninsula's division with minefields and barbed wire.


Muslim rebels drop independence demand

MANILA | The chief government negotiator in peace talks with Muslim rebels welcomed on Thursday a rebel leader's statement that his group is no longer demanding independence from the Philippines and instead is seeking a status similar to a U.S. state.

The rebel announcement on Wednesday "will definitely pave the way to finding an understanding for a politically feasible arrangement that maintains the territorial integrity and the fundamental premise of people's sovereignty in one republic," law school dean Marvic Leonen said in a statement.

The rebels have been fighting for Muslim self-rule for about four decades.

Mohagher Iqbal, chief negotiator for the 11,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front, told local reporters on Wednesday that his group wants a "substate" that he likened to a U.S. state. He said it would not be independent and would be under a "unitary government."


Former police officer admits al Qaeda ties

JAKARTA | A former Indonesian police officer said Thursday he helped al Qaeda train and arm 170 members of a new terror network in Aceh province soon after he left the police force.

Mohammed Sofyan Tsauri - who is accused of involvement in several plots targeting foreigners and Western embassies in the predominantly Muslim country - went on trial Thursday. He faces a maximum penalty of death if found guilty of violating anti-terror laws.

Mr. Tsauri told reporters before entering the District Court in Depok, just south of the capital, that he became "affiliated with al Qaeda" soon after he quit his job as a police officer in 2008.


Opposition leader convicted in absentia

PHNOM PENH | Cambodia's main opposition party leader was convicted in absentia Thursday and sentenced to 10 years in prison for a politically sensitive comment about a border dispute, in what critics said is another example of the government's intimidation of its opponents.

Sam Rainsy, who is living in exile in Paris, was convicted of spreading false information about a border dispute with Vietnam. The lawsuit was filed in February after Rainsy questioned whether the border had been marked incorrectly by the government to Cambodia's disadvantage.

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