- - Thursday, June 16, 2011

SOUTH KOREA

N. Korea demands return of defectors

SEOUL | North Korea on Thursday demanded the return of nine of its citizens who defected by boat and warned that cross-border relations would suffer otherwise, Seoul officials said.

The three men, two women and four children crossed the tense Yellow Sea border Saturday in two small boats.

Media reports say they want to defect, and the South says they are free to choose whether to stay or to return home.

The North’s Red Cross sent a message to its South Korean counterpart to demand the return of the nine immediately, Seoul’s unification ministry, which handles cross-border affairs, said in a statement.

Failure to do so could further damage relations, the message added.

MYANMAR

Report: 10,000 flee fighting in north

BANGKOK | As many as 10,000 people reportedly have become refugees from fighting in northern Myanmar between government troops and a militia of the Kachin ethnic minority.

The website of the Kachin News Group, associated with anti-government Kachin exiles, quoted one of the group’s leaders saying that more than 10,000 refugees had fled territory under government control to six temporary camps near the Chinese border.

The report said China had closed the border to refugees, but Beijing has denied doing so.

The fighting began June 9, when government troops reportedly shelled a Kachin base in a bid to force the rebel fighters from a strategic region where China is constructing major hydropower plants. The total number of casualties remains unclear.

CHINA

China pledges aid to Mongolia

BEIJING | China pledged Thursday to help resource-rich Mongolia develop its economy, offering visiting Prime Minister Sukhbaatar Batbold a $500 million loan and support for the key mining and energy sectors.

On a three-day visit to Beijing, Mr. Batbold met with Premier Wen Jiabao and discussed joint infrastructure projects while overseeing the signing of a raft of agreements, including the loan.

Mr. Wen further urged Mr. Batbold to work with China to fight terrorism, separatism and cross-border crime and said the two nations should cooperate to maintain stability along their border.

It was unclear if the two leaders discussed recent unrest in Chinese-ruled Inner Mongolia - which lies south of Mongolia - where thousands of ethnic Mongols protested over alleged encroachment by Chinese mining concerns in the region’s traditional grasslands.

INDIA

India, China to resume frozen defense contacts

NEW DELHI | India will resume defense ties with China on Sunday, when a military delegation will travel to Beijing a year after New Delhi suspended such meetings over a visa spat, a government source said Thursday.

China in August denied a visa to an Indian general in charge of operations in the disputed Kashmir region. The Indian source said that, as part of the compromise with Beijing, the delegation would be headed by another general.

“If you’ve agreed to my point, I can’t run you down to the ground. They have to save face, as the Chinese say,” the source said, declining to be identified as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

“But after this trip, things will be back on track,” he said, referring to the resumption of defense exchanges.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA

Leader’s son faces murder charge

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA | Police on Thursday were preparing to charge the son of Papua New Guinea’s acting prime minister with murder after the body of a 29-year-old waitress was found at the family home.

Theo Abal, 21, will likely make his first court appearance Friday once he is charged in the killing of the woman, police spokesman Dominic Kakas said. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

A guard at the house told police he saw Mr. Abal and the woman arrive home in the early hours of Monday and head for a garden on the premises. Police said the guard later heard the woman scream and that Mr. Abal confessed to killing her.

Mr. Kakas said her throat had been cut. A kitchen knife found near her body was the suspected weapon, he said.

Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal said he personally reported the “alleged murder” to Police Commissioner Tony Wagambie on Monday. He made no comment on his son’s reported confession but pledged to cooperate fully.

From wire dispatches and staff reports