- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 27, 2002

U.N. envoy meets twice with opposition to junta

RANGOON, Burma U.N. envoy to Burma Razali Ismail met for a second straight day Thursday with Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), in his bid to advance reconciliation talks between the NLD and the ruling junta.

The U.N. secretary-general's special envoy went to the Nobel peace laureate's lakeside residence in downtown Rangoon for dinner, sources said. Earlier, Mr. Razali had what he called productive talks with senior lieutenants of Mrs. Suu Kyi.

The Malaysian diplomat told reporters his meeting Thursday morning at NLD headquarters with eight members of its Central Executive Committee was "useful and encouraging."

Sri Lanka to repeal harsh defamation law

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka The Cabinet has approved repeal of a harsh criminal defamation law, the justice minister announced Thursday, bowing to intense lobbying by free-speech advocates.

The colonial-era law was widely criticized as a muzzle on the media, particularly after its provisions were used in recent years to stifle criticism of senior politicians, including President Chandrika Kumaratunga.

"Now that Cabinet approval has been given, we expect this blot to be removed from our statute books very soon," Justice Minister W.J.M. Lokubandara said at a news conference.

Katmandu residents defy rebel strike call

KATMANDU, Nepal Rebel supporters bombed an empty bus and set fire to a motorcycle two days ago as they tried to enforce the third day of a nationwide strike that many Nepalese were openly defying.

Police said there were no casualties in the two attacks.

The first two days of the strike cost at least $25 million in lost business, officials said.

The attacks on the bus and motorcycle coincided with a citizens' rally in Katmandu against the five-day strike ordered by the rebels, who are fighting to establish a Maoist state in this Himalayan kingdom.

The army and police, meanwhile, killed nine rebels in eight separate shootouts Wednesday night, the Defense Ministry said.

Weekly notes

The USS Hopper, a guided-missile destroyer, will make a 10-hour stop in Sri Lanka next Tuesday to refuel the first such visit in more than eight years, according to the U.S. Embassy. The visit comes after the United States voiced support for Sri Lanka's peace efforts to end a nearly two-decade ethnic war and a visit in March by U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Timothy Ghormley. Mongolian hunger strikers defied a government order to end their eight-day protest outside the Labor Ministry in Ulan Bator on Thursday, and demanded compensation for money they said was lost through official corruption or negligence. They want compensation for about $2,500 about four years wages lost to businessmen promising jobs in South Korea, who sold them licenses issued by the ministry, which cancelled the licences, saying they were obtained using false documents.

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