Continued from page 1

Western countries including Britain, France and the U.S. called on the military regime to free immediately more than 2,000 political prisoners, end impunity for abuse, and halt forced labor, arbitrary arrests and torture of critics.

SOUTH KOREA

S. Korea offers date for meeting with North

SEOUL | South Korea has proposed a date to North Korea for the rivals’ first official contact since the North’s deadly shelling of a South Korean island late last year.

The proposal for a preliminary meeting in two weeks on resuming high-level military talks came as a senior U.S. diplomat visited Seoul to show solidarity with a close U.S. ally and to talk about ways to deal with North Korea.

South Korea’s defense minister sent a message to his North Korean counterpart proposing a Feb. 11 meeting at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone dividing the peninsula, the Defense Ministry said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports