- The Washington Times - Friday, April 5, 2002

Hanoi expects Russians to quit seaport by July

HANOI Vietnam said yesterday it expects Russia to complete troop withdrawal from its military base at Cam Ranh Bay before July 1.

"Vietnam and the Russian Federation will complete legal procedures to terminate before the expiry date the agreement on Cam Ranh port signed in 1979, and the hand-over of the port before July 1, 2002," said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Phan Thuy Thanh.

She told reporters Vietnam would develop a plan to "most efficiently explore [Cam Ranhs] potentials and advantages to serve our national development" after the Russian withdrawal.


Cambodia to turn back Vietnamese hill people

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia Trying to stem the tide of minority hill people fleeing Vietnam after a U.S. offer of asylum, the government said yesterday that those crossing the border were not refugees and would be sent home if caught.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong made the comments after meeting high-level officials from the United Nations refugee agency, who want Phnom Penh to continue giving asylum to hill people crossing the border illegally.


Contact re-established with Aussies in Arctic

SYDNEY, Australia Two Australian adventurers who lost contact with their support team several days ago while crossing the Arctic ice shelf have been spotted and appear to be well, their sponsors said today.

Jon Muir and Eric Philips, trying to become the first Australians to trek the 621 miles from Siberia to the North Pole unassisted, had not been heard from since their satellite beacon stopped tracking their position five days ago.

The pair appeared to be "progressing normally" when spotted by a Russian supply plane.


Weekly notes

Kamalesh Sharma, India's ambassador to the United Nations, was named by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday to head the world body's operation in East Timor after the former Portuguese colony achieves independence next month. Mr. Sharma replaces Sergio Vieria de Mello, a career U.N. official from Brazil, who has led the U.N. mission since the United Nations assumed administration of the territory in late 1999 after residents voted for independence from Indonesia. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations hopes to boost ties with the world's largest market in talks today with U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick in Bangkok. Vu Khoan, Vietnam's trade minister, said yesterday that ASEAN is prepared to push for a broad range of cooperation with the United States despite recent American overtures to China.

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