- The Washington Times - Friday, July 11, 2003

SOLOMON ISLANDS

Lawmakers endorseAustralian intervention

HONIARA — Lawmakers endorsed a plan yesterday to let an Australian-led security force into the Pacific Ocean nation to prevent it from plunging into anarchy.

Conflict between rival islanders has led to a breakdown of law in the archipelago nation, with armed thugs killing and carrying out kidnappings with impunity here in the capital. The endorsement came as state radio reported that renegade leader Harold Keke had attacked two more villages.

Mr. Keke, an ex-policeman, has led a rampage on the remote Weathercoast of Guadalcanal. Over the past year, his men have killed 50 persons. Mr. Keke himself claims to have executed a Cabinet minister who has not been seen since.

Teams of Australian and New Zealand defense and police officials are already in Honiara, planning the deployment of 2,000 troops and police in the country of 480,000 people and 80 islands 1,400 miles northeast of Sydney, Australia.

VIETNAM

Japan’s top officerleads visit to Hanoi

HANOI — A delegation from Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, including its leader, is in Vietnam for an official four-day visit, state media reported yesterday.

Adm. Toru Ishikawa, chairman of the Japanese Joint Staff Council, and other officers arrived in Hanoi on Wednesday and met with Lt. Gen. Phung Quang Thanh, deputy defense minister and chief of staff of the Vietnamese army. The Japanese Embassy confirmed the visit without elaborating.

The two sides exchanged information about the socioeconomic situations of their countries and discussed issues of mutual concern in order to promote friendship and mutual understanding, the Vietnam News Agency said.

TAIWAN

High-ranking womenplan forays to West

TAIPEI — Taiwan’s first lady, Wu Shu-chen, is to visit Germany this month to open an exhibition of art from the island’s National Palace Museum, officials said yesterday.

Mrs. Wu, wife of President Chen Shui-bian, is to be the guest of honor at the opening ceremony of the three-month exhibit in Berlin beginning July 18, said a presidential aide. She is to stay in Germany until July 19, then to fly to the Vatican, which has diplomatic ties with Taipei, for a four-day visit.

Next month, Vice President Annette Lu is scheduled to make stops in the United States before traveling on to Paraguay, Taiwan’s sole diplomatic ally in South America, the China Times Express evening newspaper reported yesterday.

Mrs. Lu is to depart Aug. 15 and make stops in Hawaii, Seattle and New York before flying to Asuncion for the inauguration of President-elect Nicanor Duarte Frutos. She also will stop in New York and Los Angeles en route back to Taipei.

Weekly notes

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a former Bangkok policeman, has vowed to rid the country within five years of corrupt police who take bribes, the Bangkok Post reported yesterday. “I need four to five years. One can’t tighten all nuts at the same time with just one [wrench],” he was quoted as saying. … Philippine Sen. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan, a former army colonel who made several failed coup attempts in the 1980s, yesterday began his campaign for the 2004 presidential election. “At this point, I would submit myself to the selection process of what I pray and hope to be a united opposition,” Mr. Honasan told a press conference, but otherwise, “there is a possibility that I may run as an independent.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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