- The Washington Times - Friday, February 15, 2002

Indonesian military asks political backing

JAKARTA, Indonesia The country's top officer, Adm. Widodo A.S., said yesterday the military is gearing up to help the world's most populous Muslim nation avoid becoming an international terror hub, but needs political support and direction.

Some neighboring and Western countries have criticized Indonesia for not doing enough to destroy suspected terrorist networks after the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Adm. Widodo told reporters the military needed political support for a comprehensive campaign. Many believe President Megawati Sukarnoputri, who has scant support from Muslim groups, would face a political backlash even from mainstream Islamic politicians if she moves too far, too fast.

Seoul hopes Bush trip will boost security

SEOUL South Korea hopes President Bush's visit here next week will enhance security on the Korean peninsula and bolster the Korean-American alliance, President Kim Dae-jung's spokeswoman said yesterday.

Mr. Bush is scheduled to visit Seoul Tuesday and Wednesday as part of an Asian tour including Japan and China. The trip was to follow a Bush speech in which he branded North Korea, Iraq and Iran an "axis of evil."

"Our goals for this summit are peace and security on the Korean peninsula," chief presidential spokeswoman Park Sun-sook told reporters. "Needless to say, the Korea-U.S. alliance is most important for these [goals]."

Ukraine flattop to be a floating crap game

HONG KONG A decommissioned Ukrainian aircraft carrier is to be refitted in China and used as a floating casino and hotel in Macau, a report said yesterday.

The unarmed Varyag is expected to reach the northeastern Chinese port of Dalian this month to undergo a refit before being towed to Macau and turned into a floating casino and hotel, the China-owned Hong Kong Commercial Daily said.

Turkey allowed the Varyag to pass through its congested waterway in October after China pledged to pay for any damage. It was anchored in the Black Sea for months awaiting the go-ahead.

Weekly notes

South Korean authorities are investigating a North Korean defector who has made a dramatic second escape across the border after sneaking back to Pyongyang to find his wife, officials said yesterday. Yoo Tae-Joon, 34, who returned to Seoul last weekend after breaking out of a maximum-security prison where he said he was tortured, was believed to be the first person to have escaped twice from North Korea since the division of the peninsula in 1945. … Indonesian prosecutors formally charged four pro-Jakarta militiamen yesterday with killing a New Zealand U.N. peacekeeper in East Timor two years ago and asked for jail sentences ranging from 10 to 12 years. Prosecutors dropped their earlier accusation that the death of Pvt. Leonard Manning in July 2000 was premeditated murder.

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