- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 30, 2003


President threatens independence vote

TAIPEI — Taiwan’s leader warned yesterday that he may use a new referendum law to call a vote on the island’s sovereignty, a move that could test China’s threats of force to prevent independence.

The threat by Chen Shui-bian, president of the Republic of China (Taiwan) caught many in Taiwan by surprise. In the four years since he was elected, Mr. Chen had always said he would push for formal independence only if China tried to use its massive military to force the island to re-unify.

During a campaign speech yesterday in Taipei, Mr. Chen said he might hold a referendum on the “country’s sovereignty” during the March 20 presidential election. Mr. Chen is seeking a second four-year term.


Greater action sought to check militants

KABUL — President Hamid Karzai met the head of the U.S. Central Command yesterday to discuss stepping up the fight against militants infiltrating from Pakistan, after the bloodiest months in Afghanistan since U.S. troops drove the Taliban from power.

Mr. Karzai and Gen. John Abizaid met at the presidential palace in Kabul ahead of a tripartite meeting in the coming days in the Afghan capital between Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States to discuss cooperation in the war on terror.


Bono joins Mandela at AIDS concert

CAPE TOWN — Music stars from Bono to Beyonce responded yesterday to a call from South African elder statesman Nelson Mandela to sing at a gala concert to raise money to battle HIV/AIDS.

South Africa has the world’s highest number of HIV/AIDS cases, with more than one in 10 of its 45 million residents either infected with HIV or suffering from AIDS.

Bono, the frontman of the Irish rock band U2, introduced Mr. Mandela, 85, to the crowd.


Kidnapped Japanese called not negotiable

SEOUL — North Korea said yesterday it will not allow Japan to join multilateral talks over its nuclear weapons program if Tokyo insists on discussing the abduction of its citizens by the communist state.

The North’s rejection could snarl ongoing efforts to restart six-nation nuclear talks, possible next month. The United States, China, Russia, Japan and the two Koreas held the first such talks in Beijing in August.

Meanwhile, a Japanese rocket carrying two spy satellites for monitoring North Korea failed to reach orbit yesterday and had to be destroyed, Japanese space officials said.


Passenger aircraft crashes; 22 dead

KINSHASA — Twenty-two people died in Congo yesterday when a passenger plane crashed in the north of the country, a government statement said.

The Russian-made Antonov 26 was on its way from Boende to the capital, Kinshasa, when it went down. It wasn’t immediately known if the plane was carrying members of the military or civilians.

It was the second transportation tragedy to hit Congo this week. A boat collision on a west Congo lake killed more than 180 people and left scores more missing.


Hillary meets local officials

KIRKUK — U.S. Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jack Reed met in this oil-rich northern city yesterday with local officials who urged the visitors to raise the problems of their city with U.S. officials back home.

Mrs. Clinton of New York and Mr. Reed of Rhode Island, both Democrats, arrived under tight security.

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