- - Thursday, November 15, 2012

JAPAN

TOKYO — Japan and North Korea began talks Thursday in Mongolia that Tokyo hopes will shed light on decades-old abductions.

The meetings in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator are scheduled to last through Friday.

In August, lower-level negotiators from Japan and North Korea held the countries’ first bilateral talks in four years, but made little progress.

Japan wants information on the abductions of Japanese citizens by North Korean agents in the 1970s and ‘80s. Japan believes at least one abductee may still be alive in the North, though North Korea denies the assertion.

Five abductees were returned to Japan in 2002.

Japan and North Korea do not have formal diplomatic relations. The abduction issue and concerns about North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs have long strained ties.

MYANMAR

Activists deride amnesty ahead of Obama’s visit

YANGON — Myanmar pardoned hundreds of prisoners Thursday in an amnesty criticized by democracy activists as a cynical ploy to curry favor before a landmark visit by President Obama.

Officials said 452 prisoners would go free, but most or all of them appeared to be ordinary criminals.

Rights groups said they were not aware of the release of any of the scores of dissidents still in jail. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a Thailand-based campaign group, described the pardon as “the worst amnesty to date.”

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, already has freed hundreds of political prisoners incarcerated by the former junta, as part of reforms that have led to a dramatic thaw in relations between the former pariah nation and the West.

INDIA

Pregnant woman’s parents rip Irish abortion laws

NEW DELHI — The parents of an Indian woman who had a miscarriage and died after being refused an abortion in an Irish hospital criticized Ireland’s abortion laws Thursday.

Savita Halappanavar was 17 weeks pregnant when she miscarried and died last month.

Ireland’s government confirmed Wednesday that Mrs. Halappanavar had blood poisoning and died after being denied an abortion, reigniting the debate over legalizing abortion in the predominantly Catholic country.

“In an attempt to save a 4-month-old fetus they killed my 30-year-old daughter. How is that fair you tell me?” A. Mahadevi, who is Mrs. Halappanavar’s mother, told several Indian television stations.

“How many more cases will there be? The rules should be changed as per the requirement of Hindus. We are Hindus, not Christians,” she said.

Mrs. Halappanavar’s father, Andanappa Yalagi, said the combination of medical negligence and Irish abortion laws led to his daughter’s death.

The spokesman for India’s Ministry of External Affairs, Syed Akbaruddin, said in a Twitter post that the Indian Embassy in Dublin is “following the matter.”

Mrs. Halappanavar’s widower, Praveen, said doctors at University Hospital Galway in western Ireland determined that his wife was miscarrying within hours of her hospitalization for severe pain on Oct. 21.

He said over the next three days, doctors refused their requests for an abortion to relieve her pain and failing health.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports