- The Washington Times - Friday, May 3, 2002

Japan, New Zealand apart on farm trade

WELLINGTON, New Zealand Japan and New Zealand agreed yesterday to bolster their already strong relationship but stopped short of discussing a free-trade agreement because Japan was not ready, Prime Minister Helen Clark said.

Mrs. Clark spoke at a joint press conference soon after talks with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who flew into Wellington from Sydney, Australia, yesterday afternoon on a 16-hour visit.

Talks between the two leaders in Japan last year had heralded a "new level of engagement on economic issues," Mrs. Clark said, which enabled the two countries to make progress in areas where there were no significant barriers.

Thai lawmaker's son to face murder charge

BANGKOK The fugitive son of a prominent Thai politician, accused of shooting a police officer in cold blood, turned himself in to the Thai Embassy in Kuala Lumpur yesterday after six months on the run, officials said.

Doungchalerm Yoobamrung has agreed to return home to face charges of murder arising out of the October shooting at the Twenty Club, a Bangkok nightspot, officials said.

Ban on bikinis drives tourists from Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia A ban on bikinis in two of the country's Islamic-ruled states has cut tourist numbers, a senior minister said yesterday.

"As it is, we were expecting a low tourist turnover this year due to the September 11 attack and the global economic recession, but now with this ruling, it made it even worse," said Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister Kadir Sheik Fadzir.

He added that tour agents in Europe were not encouraging people to visit Malaysia as they feared being sued for not providing a holiday atmosphere. The number of tourist arrivals to Malaysia has dropped steadily since the ban, he said, citing no figures.

Debtors kill 5 women to steal $1,500

SEOUL Two men posed as taxi drivers and strangled five women in 48 hours, robbing them of a little more than $1,500 to pay credit-card debts in a lurid crime that shocked South Korea, news reports said yesterday.

The killing spree comes as South Korea is touting its safety ahead of the World Cup soccer finals it co-hosts with Japan at the end of the month. The murders also raised alarm about rising consumer debt.

Weekly notes

Vietnamese President Tran Duc Luong arrived in Pyongyang yesterday for a four-day official visit aimed at bolstering ties between the communist states. Mr. Luong is the first top Vietnamese leader to visit North Korea in four decades. Support for Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is below 44 percent, close to its lowest levels since he took office just over a year ago, a Kyodo News poll showed yesterday. The poll reveals a dramatic decline in Mr. Koizumi's popularity, once his main weapon against Liberal Democratic Party rivals.

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