- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 6, 2003

VIETNAM

Defense chief heads for U.S. tomorrow

HANOI — Twenty-eight years after the end of the Vietnam War, Vietnamese Defense Minister Pham Van Tra heads to the United States tomorrow for the first visit by the communist nation’s top military officer.

The four-day Washington foray by the conservative general marks the start of a new era of engagement at a level unthinkable a few years ago.

“Tra’s visit to the United States is highly significant,” said Carl Thayer, a specialist on U.S.-Vietnam relations at the Australian Defense Force Academy. Gen. Nguyen Dinh Uoc of the Defense Ministry’s Military History Institute here added: “It will make bilateral relations more comprehensive by developing military ties between the two countries.”

CHINA

Joint team eliminates Japan’s chemical arms

BEIJING — Nearly 100 Chinese and Japanese chemical-weapons specialists descended on Qiqihar city in northeastern Heilongjiang province yesterday to dispose of weapons left by retreating Japanese armies nearly 60 years ago.

The team will work with Chinese diplomats, specialists and engineers to dispose of chemical weapons that were collected after World War II and stored in a local warehouse, Xinhua news agency reported. Although the weapons were sealed, one man was killed and 42 were injured in August by leakage from rusted containers.

INDONESIA

Martial law in Aceh extended six months

JAKARTA — The government will extend by six months martial law in troubled Aceh Province, where nearly 1,500 people have been killed in military offensives since it was imposed May 19 to crack down on rebels of the Free Aceh Movement.

After a meeting led by President Megawati Sukarnoputri, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, coordinating minister for political and security affairs, disclosed the extension term, effective Nov. 16.

“The government decided to extend the martial law in Aceh for six months, and every month, it will be evaluated.” Mr. Yudhoyono told reporters.

Weekly notes …

A New Zealand couple with a combined age of 183 will tie the knot Sunday at the St. James Rest Home in Christchurch where they both live. Jim Gorringe, 99, has been married once before, and it will be the third marriage for bride-to-be Dinah Leach, 84. Barbara Stanton, nursing manager at the rest home, said it was trying to shield the couple from some of the intense public interest that the wedding has generated. “We’re even fielding calls from the [United] States” asking whether they are “robust enough to fly over to appear on television,” she said.


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