- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 21, 2001

South Korea, U.S. open war games

SEOUL — Major U.S.-Korean war games opened yesterday as South Korean President Kim Dae-jung vowed to boost security and strengthen diplomatic ties with major powers to underpin his drive to revive stalled ties with North Korea.

South Korea must "prepare a solid security system while forging a peace process through dialogue," Mr. Kim told a special meeting of the National Security Council of senior Cabinet ministers called to ponder policy toward the communist North.

Mr. Kim said South Korea's security could be assured with a combination of South Korean-U.S. military cooperation and stronger diplomatic ties with China, Japan, Russia and the United States — whose interests intersect on the Korean peninsula.

Russia called religious guardian

MOSCOW — Russia is "the guardian of Christianity," President Vladimir Putin said yesterday, following a visit to a monastery in the Solovki islands, in the White Sea, Russian agencies reported.

Recalling that his country was traditionally known as "Saint Russia," Mr. Putin said the "country is bestowed with a special role as the guardian of Christianity."

Without the Orthodox religion, "Russia would have difficulty in becoming a viable state. It is thus very important to return to this source," said the former head of the KGB which massively persecuted the clergy and faithful during the Soviet era.

Wedding ends in all-out brawl

LE HAVRE, France — A weekend wedding ceremony in this northern French city ended in an all-out brawl with police forced to use tear gas to disperse the quarreling families of the bride and groom.

Police said six persons were detained following the incident for carrying weapons.

The fight began between members of the two families for reasons still unknown.

Police called in to break up the quarrel were greeted with a hail of stones and chairs. They responded with tear gas.

Chile rejects Peruvian arms complaints

SANTIAGO, Chile — Chile defended yesterday its plans to buy new warplanes and frigates in a deepening dispute with its northern neighbor Peru over arms purchases.

Chile's navy chief, Adm. Miguel Vergara, denied Peruvian assertions that Chile was trying to gain military superiority with 10 modern F-16 fighters it hopes to buy from the United States.

"No way is there an arms race," Adm. Vergara told journalists. "We are only renewing material that is extremely old."

Chile aims to spend more than $700 million on the F-16s, equipped with state-of-the-art LITENING II precision navigation targeting, and two tanker planes for midair refueling.

Oil-rich Venezuela is the only country in Latin America that has F-16 fighters.

Quebeckers should have citizenship

QUEBEC CITY — In order to reaffirm the "precarious" status of French in North America, Quebeckers should have their own citizenship, a provincial task force studying the status of the French language reported yesterday.

But Quebeckers would not get a new passport or be asked to choose between Quebec or Canadian citizenship, the report added.

The goal is to make everyone, including new immigrants, English-speaking residents and native peoples, feel that they are part of Quebec, a French-speaking island in an English-dominated North America.

Woman killed by bomb

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain — A woman was killed and her 16-month-old grandson blinded in Spain's troubled Basque region yesterday by a bomb planted in a toy car, but there was no immediate evidence implicating the Basque separatist group ETA, the Basque interior ministry said.

The ministry said in a statement that the remote-controlled car contained "a metal item with a quantity of explosives," adding that the toy had been abandoned in a hotel.

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