- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 30, 2001

Tibetan boy 'fine' in Chinese detention
BEIJING A boy detained by Chinese authorities after being chosen as one of Tibet's top Buddhist clerics is well but his parents don't want him to be bothered, Chinese officials said yesterday. Human rights groups call the boy the world's youngest political prisoner.
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, now 12, disappeared into Chinese custody in 1995 after the Dalai Lama, from exile in India, chose him as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, Tibet's second-ranking Buddhist leader. He has not been seen in public since.
Chinese officials told an Australian human rights delegation that the boy's "well-being is fine," but his parents "want their privacy respected" said Alan Thomas, an Australian vice minister of foreign affairs.

Sharpton's Mideast trip a learning experience
JERUSALEM Outspoken New York civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton got a lesson in regional geography before trying his hand yesterday at mediation between Israelis and Palestinians.
Mr. Sharpton, a fiery black minister once shunned by mainstream U.S. politicians for oratory that stoked racial tension, said he was inspired to make the Middle East trip by the Sept. 11 attacks on Manhattan's World Trade Center.
At a meeting with a top Israeli Foreign Ministry official, Mr. Sharpton displayed his ignorance of the Middle East conflict, at one point requiring a regional map to determine where the West Bank and Gaza Strip were.

Torpedo explosion caused Kursk to sink
MURMANSK, Russia The Russian official heading the government probe into the Kursk disaster said yesterday the sinking was caused by one of the submarine's torpedoes exploding.
But Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov, speaking as bodies continued to be retrieved from the wreck, left open the possibility that the nuclear-powered submarine also had collided with an unspecified object.
The Kursk sank in the Barents Sea in August 2000 after two explosions on board. All 118 servicemen on board died.

Kissinger to advise Chinese oil producer
HONG KONG Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has been named as an adviser to a mainland Chinese oil and gas producer, the company said yesterday.
Wei Liucheng, chairman of the China National Offshore Oil Co., said the company chose Mr. Kissinger and four other "advisers with global vision and world-acclaimed track record to spearhead the company, together with our management team."

Cards to weed out bogus asylum seekers
LONDON Britain announced a plan to overhaul its immigration system yesterday, including issuing "smart cards" with photos and fingerprints to those seeking asylum.
The new system aims to phase out a much-criticized voucher system and replace it with full-service accommodation centers, Home Secretary David Blunkett told the House of Commons. The identification cards will take the place of easily forged approval letters now used to release benefits.

Britain and Spain hold talks on Gibraltar
LONDON The British and Spanish governments confirmed yesterday that negotiations to resolve its dispute over Gibraltar are under way and will continue at a Nov. 20 meeting in Barcelona.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw will meet his Spanish counterpart Josep Pique to try to put an end to the sovereignty dispute that has soured relations between London and Madrid for almost 300 years, the Foreign Office said.
In Madrid, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar said that "very discreet" talks had already been under way for some time and were now going over some "important new elements."
Gibraltar has been under British rule since 1704 and the majority of its population has no desire to return to Spanish rule.
The government and opposition in Gibraltar declared on Oct. 4 that the 30,000-strong population never would give up their sovereignty or their right to self-determination.

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