- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 12, 2004

IRAN

Military test-fires medium-range missile

TEHRAN — Iran said yesterday it carried out a successful field test of the latest version of its Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile, which defense experts say can reach Israel or U.S. bases in the Persian Gulf.

Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said last week Iran was working to improve the range and accuracy of the Shahab-3 in response to Israel’s moves to boost its anti-missile capability.

Iran says its missile program is purely for deterrent purposes. Tehran also denies U.S. and Israeli accusations that it is seeking to develop nuclear warheads which could be delivered by the Shahab-3.

TURKEY

4 killed, 74 hurt as trains collide

TAVSANCIL — A passenger train in northwest Turkey ignored a stop signal and rammed into an oncoming train yesterday, killing at least four persons and injuring 74, in the nation’s third deadly rail accident in as many weeks.

Rescue workers searched the wreckage for victims near the village of Tavsancil in Kocaeli province, some 50 miles east of Istanbul. The passenger train was traveling from Ankara to Istanbul carrying 153 passengers and nine crew members.

SOUTH KOREA

Government confirms plan to move capital

SEOUL — South Korea confirmed yesterday a controversial plan to move the future seat of government to two scenic rural counties from crowded Seoul, brushing aside fierce opposition to the $45 billion plan.

President Roh Moo-hyun made relocating the capital a key pledge in his 2002 election campaign. A shift away from Seoul, home to more than 10 million people and a Korean capital since the 14th century, still faces legal challenges from civic groups opposed to a plan they regard as ill-conceived and wasteful.

Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan said a committee has confirmed its earlier choice of a site straddling parts of Yongi and Kongju counties.

FRANCE

Chirac’s vacation angers officials

PARIS — French government officials are reportedly angry that President Jacques Chirac is sunning in the Indian Ocean resort of Reunion for nearly three weeks while they are under orders to work through their holidays.

The Times of London reported yesterday that before setting out on his 11-hour flight, Mr. Chirac told his Cabinet colleagues to remain within two hours of Paris so that they could return to their desks if need be — apparently to avoid the mistake of last summer, when the government was widely criticized for failing to take action during a heat wave that killed 14,947 persons in France.

GREECE

Koreas’ players table rivalry over tennis

ATHENS — Table-tennis players from North and South Korea have agreed to hold a joint training session at the Athens Olympics in a symbolic attempt to start burying decades of Cold War rivalry, South Korea’s team said yesterday.

“For the first time, we agreed to have a joint training session,” South Korean team manager Shin Bark-jae said. “Politics are far from us as we pursue the Olympic spirit.”

Athletes from the estranged Korean states were “mixing freely” in the Olympic village and their table-tennis players would practice together today, Mr. Shin said.

The following day, competitors from the capitalist South and communist North will march together at the Athens Games’ opening ceremony, repeating their joint arrival at the Sydney Games in 2000 under a special “unification flag” bearing a map of the peninsula.

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