- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 5, 2003


Manila rules outU.S. troop basing

MANILA — Philippine officials yesterday ruled out the possibility of U.S. troops in Asia being relocated to the Philippines as part of a redeployment of forces in the Pacific, and said the issue had not been raised during a visit of Adm. Thomas Fargo, commander of American forces in the Pacific.

“The Philippine situation doesn’t change: No permanent basing of U.S. forces here,” Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes told reporters after meeting with Adm. Fargo. The admiral said he had discussed the six-month, $25 million joint training program that is intended to boost the capability of U.S. and Philippine forces “to deal with terrorism.”

The Los Angeles Times reported May 29 on a repositioning plan that could include moving 15,000 of the 20,000 U.S. Marines in Okinawa, Japan, to bases in Australia and increasing American military presence in Singapore and Malaysia. The front-page article, which cited U.S. defense officials, said Washington also was considering seeking agreements to base Navy ships in Vietnam and U.S. ground forces in the Philippines.


Prosecutor demands general’s acquittal

JAKARTA — A prosecutor yesterday demanded that a court acquit the top general on trial in connection with violence in East Timor in 1999, saying he had not been proven guilty of committing crimes against humanity there.

Prosecutors had been expected to announce their sentencing demands for Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri, but in a surprise move, prosecutor S. Hozie told the court to rule that “the defendant had not been proven guilty of crimes against humanity” in East Timor when it voted to break from Jakarta’s rule. Mr. Hozie insisted he had not been pressured.

The chief judge said the court would reconvene July 1 to hear a statement from Gen. Damiri before passing judgement. Mr. Hozie later said his demand did not mean that prosecutors had dropped the charges against Gen. Damiri, the regional military chief with responsibility for East Timor in August 1999.


Low birthrate tied to population drop

TOKYO — Japan’s population, under pressure from a low birthrate and a rapidly aging society, may start to decline sooner than forecast, the Health Ministry said yesterday.

It reported that 1,153,866 babies were born last year, down 16,796 from the previous year, and that the number of children a woman will bear in her lifetime dropped to a record 1.32 from 1.33 the year before.

The country’s postwar lifetime-fertility average peaked in 1947 at 4.54. The ministry projected last year that Japan’s population would peak in 2006 and begin shrinking thereafter, but it said yesterday that the population could start to decline a year earlier.

Weekly notes …

Thailand has decided to release a 44-year-old Swedish woman held on suspicion that she had been planning a Falun Gong protest during the visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao last week for a summit on severe acute respiratory syndrome, Swedish media report. Pirjo Svensson was arrested at her husband’s home but has been ordered to leave Thailand. She is expected in Sweden soon, news agency TT said. … Western Australia state has pulled funding for a sex workers support group after it published a pamphlet teaching prostitutes tricks to ensure customers keep coming back. The pamphlet from the group Phoenix gave such tips as “always act like you enjoy it” and “don’t wear shoes in bed.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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