- The Washington Times - Friday, April 19, 2002

Tokyo, Pyongyang to air kidnap dispute

TOKYO Red Cross officials from Japan and North Korea will hold talks in China next week aimed at resolving a dispute over the purported abductions of Japanese citizens, government officials said yesterday.

The meeting the first since talks broke down two years ago is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday in Beijing, and Japanese Foreign Ministry officials are expected to attend as observers, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said. North Korea's state news agency, KCNA, yesterday confirmed the planned meeting.

The Red Cross has often served as a conduit for official exchanges between the two nations, which have no diplomatic ties.

Seoul announces donation to North

SEOUL The South Korean government said yesterday it would finance a gift of 200,000 tons of fertilizer to North Korea.

The Unification Ministry said a special meeting had endorsed the equivalent of $50 million for the humanitarian aid. Shipments are to begin this month and finish by the end of May.

The donation came after a visit to Pyongyang this month by South Korean presidential envoy Lim Dong-won, who met the North's leader, Kim Jong-il.

Megawati asked to skip Dili independence fete

JAKARTA, Indonesia The parliament speaker urged President Megawati Sukarnoputri yesterday not to attend independence celebrations in East Timor next month. This reinforced earlier advice from lawmakers that she ignore the event.

Mrs. Megawati was invited by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and East Timorese leaders to witness the May 20 separation of East Timor at the capital, Dili.

Vietnam detains 3rd Internet activist

PARIS Vietnam has detained a third dissident for publishing pro-democracy texts on the Internet, Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF) said yesterday.

The Paris-based free-press advocacy group said Son Hong Pham has been detained since March 29, apparently for translating and publishing on the Internet an article titled "What is Democracy?" that had previously appeared on a U.S. Embassy Web site.

RSF said Mr. Pham is the third Internet dissident arrested in Vietnam this year. It called for his release, as well as that of Le Chi Quang, a computer teacher, and literature professor Tran Khue, who were detained for publishing on the Internet criticism of border agreements with China.

Weekly notes

The World Council of Churches has called for an outside probe of the killing of a separatist leader in Irian Jaya. Martin Doolard of the Geneva-based council told the U.N. Human Rights Commission that most people in that part of Indonesia view the November abduction and killing of Theys Eluay as an act of state authorities to silence him. Deposed Philippine leader Joseph Estrada celebrated his 65th birthday a day early yesterday, throwing a party for friends and family while detained at a military hospital.

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