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Briefly: Asia

- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 11, 2011

NORTH KOREA

Foreign ministry considering family reunions

SEOUL — North Korea says it is considering allowing Korean-Americans to be reunited with their separated families in the North.

A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday that the United States recently proposed discussing the issue through the Red Cross and other channels.

The unidentified spokesman said such an exchange would help boost confidence between the countries and help resolve other problems in the future.

He did not elaborate, but a senior North Korean diplomat recently met with U.S. officials in New York to talk about ways to restart long-stalled nuclear disarmament talks.

Millions of Koreans were separated during the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

INDIA

Three face execution for Gandhi assassination

NEW DELHI — India's president has rejected the mercy petitions of three men sentenced to death for the 1991 assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the presidential office said Thursday.

Mr. Gandhi was killed by a suicide bomber belonging to Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers while campaigning for his Congress Party in southern India. The rebel group killed Mr. Gandhi in revenge for his decision to send Indian peacekeepers to intervene in the conflict.

A total of 26 defendants were sentenced to death in 1998 after a six-year trial. However, an appeals court commuted the sentences of 22 defendants to life imprisonment and another had her clemency plea accepted.

President Pratibha Patil's office said that she had rejected the final three convicts' clemency pleas last week.

The Gandhi family, no relation to independence leader Mohandas Gandhi, has been India's main political dynasty since Jawaharlal Nehru became the country's first prime minister.

Rajiv Gandhi's widow, Sonia Gandhi, is the current leader of the ruling Congress Party, and his son, Rahul, is seen as next in line to be prime minister.

BANGLADESH

Court opens first war-crimes trial

DHAKA — A special Bangladeshi court this week Wednesday opened its first case against an Islamist leader charged with atrocities during the country's bloody 1971 war of independence.

Delwar Hossain Sayedee, 71, is accused of killing more than 50 people, torching villages, rape, looting and forcibly converting Hindus to Islam. He is a senior official of Jamaat-e-Islami, the country's largest Islamic party,

He is being tried before the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal, which was set up last year to try people over war crimes during the battle for liberation from Pakistan.

Judge Nizamul Huq opened proceedings in Dhaka and immediately adjourned the court until August 18, when formal charges will be read out.

CAMBODIA

Hun Sen sees end of 'nightmare' in Thai conflict

PHNOM PENH — Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Thursday the "nightmare" of strained relations with Thailand was over, as he vowed to work with the new government in Bangkok to resolve a bloody border conflict.

The two countries have engaged in occasionally deadly clashes over a disputed area near a 900-year-old temple, although tensions have eased since an election victory by allies of ousted ex-leader Thaksin Shinawatra last month.

"Now is a good opportunity to announce a new era of cooperation between the Cambodian government and the Thai government led by the Puea Thai Party," Hun Sen said in a speech in the Cambodian capital.

CHINA

Earthquake injures 26 in western region

BEIJING — State media reported Thursday that 26 people have been injured and more than 30 homes damaged by a strong earthquake in western China's Xinjiang region.

The official Xinhua News Agency said three of those injured are in critical condition.

The national earthquake monitoring center said Thursday's quake registered magnitude 5.8 and was centered near the city of Atux at a depth of 5 miles.

China's worst earthquake in recent years was a 7.9 magnitude temblor in the western province of Sichuan in May 2008. It left nearly 90,000 people dead or missing.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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