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Briefly: Asia

- - Thursday, August 18, 2011

CHINA

Biden bonds with his Chinese counterpart

BEIJING | Vice President Joseph R. Biden waxed glowingly about China's vice president Thursday at the start of a five-day visit that will give them some serious bonding time.

Xi Jinping, the country's expected future leader, seemed to return the warm feelings, with both men emphasizing the importance of personal ties in international relations and the need for their countries to work together on the world's problems.

Thursday's meetings between the two, followed by a formal banquet, began to reveal a bit about the personal style of a man who has so far given little indication of how he will rule the world's most populous country, the No. 2 economy and a powerful potential rival to the U.S.

In his opening remarks at the Great Hall of the People, Mr. Biden said he was impressed with Mr. Xi's "sweep and knowledge of history, impressed with your openness and candor," adding he viewed foreign policy as more than just formal visits.

PAKISTAN

Sketch shown of suspect in American's kidnapping

ISLAMABAD | Pakistani police on Thursday released a sketch of a possible suspect in the kidnapping of an American development expert, as public silence from his abductors has added to fears about his fate.

Warren Weinstein, 70, was abducted early Saturday after gunmen tricked his guards and broke into his home in the eastern city of Lahore.

He was the country director in Pakistan for J.E. Austin Associates, a U.S.-based firm that advises a range of Pakistani business and government sectors.

The black-and-white sketch released to the media shows a lean young man with short dark hair and a stubbly beard. Police did not name him.

Investigators have been talking to Mr. Weinstein's guards and driver to reconstruct the scene and get details about the abductors.

JAPAN

U.S. ex-envoy: Tokyo didn't take charge when crisis hit

TOKYO | Early in the Fukushima nuclear crisis, U.S. officials felt that nobody in Japan's government was taking charge, and Washington considered evacuating U.S. troops in a worst-case scenario, a retired U.S. envoy said Thursday.

When the March 11 earthquake and tsunami set off the crisis by crippling the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant and sending it toward meltdown, Prime Minister Naoto Kan's administration initially acted as if it was the plant operator's problem, not the government's, former diplomat Kevin Maher said.

"There was nobody in charge. Nobody in the Japanese political system was willing to say 'I'm going to take responsibility and make decisions,' " said Mr. Maher, who coordinated U.S. offers to help Tokyo deal with the crisis.

INDIA

Anti-graft crusader agrees to 15-day fast

NEW DELHI | A renowned Indian anti-corruption crusader plans to embark on a 15-day public hunger strike that will pit him and his thousands of supporters against the scandal-plagued government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, his aides said Thursday.

Anna Hazare, who has been fasting since Tuesday, reached an agreement with police to hold the demonstration starting Friday to push for tough new anti-corruption legislation, after a two-day standoff at a New Delhi jail.

Mr. Hazare's ordeal has hit a chord with Indians fed up with rampant corruption. Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched through cities across the country to show their support for his demand to strengthen a government-reform bill.

"People were feeling suffocated in an environment of corruption around them. There is a limit to people's patience. That's why people came out on the streets," an exuberant Mr. Hazare said in a video posted by his supporters on YouTube.

The government has accused Mr. Hazare of trying to blackmail Parliament with his threat to fast to death if they do not pass his proposed legislation to create a powerful ombudsman to police the government.