- - Sunday, December 25, 2011

IRAN

Woman to face death by stoning or hanging

TEHRAN — Authorities in Iran said Sunday they are again moving ahead with plans to execute a woman sentenced to death by stoning on an adultery conviction in a case that sparked an international outcry, but are considering whether to carry out the punishment by hanging instead.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is already behind bars, serving a 10-year sentence on a separate conviction in the murder of her husband. Amid the international outrage her case generated, Iran in July 2010 suspended plans to carry out her death sentence on the adultery conviction.

On Sunday, a senior judiciary official said experts were studying whether the punishment of stoning could be changed to hanging.

“There is no haste. … We are waiting to see whether we can carry out the execution of a person sentenced to stoning by hanging or not,” said Malek Ajdar Sharifi, the head of the justice department of East Azerbaijan province, where Ashtiani is imprisoned.

“As soon as the result [of the investigation] is obtained, we will carry out the sentence,” he said, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.

The charge of a married woman having an illicit relationship requires a punishment of stoning, he said.

CHINA

Japan’s premier to confer with Beijing on North Korea

BEIJING — Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Sunday that he and his Chinese counterpart have agreed to work together in dealing with North Korea and promoting stability in the secretive Stalinist nation after the death of longtime leader Kim Jong-il.

Mr. Noda’s first official visit to Beijing normally would have centered on bilateral issues, such as squabbles over islands claimed by both countries. But the death of Mr. Kim on Dec. 17 and the announcement of his son, Kim Jong-un, as the country’s “supreme leader” have shifted the focus.

Mr. Noda, the first foreign leader to meet with China’s leaders since Mr. Kim’s death, emphasized the need to get stalled six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program back on track.

“We are currently facing a new situation in East Asia,” Mr. Noda told reporters after mentioning Mr. Kim’s death.

“On this issue, it is very timely to exchange views with the host of the six-party talks and the country with the most influence on North Korea,” he said, referring to China. “Safeguarding the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula is in the common interest of our two countries.”

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