- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 26, 2004

CHINA

Officials defend handling of flu

BEIJING — Chinese officials tried yesterday to deflect criticism of their decision not to publicize their discovery of a deadly bird flu strain in pigs last year, saying the cases did not pose a threat to humans.

The pigs carried a flu strain found in ducks rather than a new version that might be more dangerous to people, said Jia Youling, China’s chief veterinary official.

Officials were stung by the alarm caused by the disclosure that the pigs carried the virus, which has killed 27 persons this year in Asia. Dr. Jia insisted Beijing had no obligation to tell international agencies about the incident.

SOUTH KOREA

Negotiator pessimistic on nuclear talks

SEOUL — South Korea’s top negotiator said yesterday that he is skeptical about reaching a substantive agreement at the next round of regional talks aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear programs.

South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Soo-hyuck said North Korea probably has little choice but to wait until after the U.S. presidential election to engage itself in negotiations.

“It appears difficult to reach a specific or comprehensive agreement at the fourth round of talks on the North’s nuclear issue,” Mr. Lee told a leading business group.

TAIWAN

Workers rescue 24 in typhoon’s wreckage

HSINCHU — Rescue workers pulled 24 survivors from the wreckage of a mountain village in Taiwan yesterday after a torrent of mud and rock triggered by a typhoon buried the area. Fifteen persons are feared dead.

Typhoon Aere, the strongest storm to hit Taipei this year, has killed at least 30 persons in Taiwan and southern Japan, and destroyed nearly 1,500 buildings in mainland China.

The typhoon has weakened to a tropical storm.

WEEKLY NOTES

Vietnam’s plans for commercial flights to the disputed Spratly Islands are illegal and violate China’s territorial sovereignty, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said yesterday. Nguyen Tien Sam, Vietnam’s deputy transportation minister, said earlier this week that his country could start commercial flights to the islands soon with opening of a new airport by the end of the year…. The commander of U.S. forces in Japan yesterday defended the military’s handling of the Aug. 13 crash of a Marine helicopter in a university campus in Okinawa. Lt. Gen. Thomas Waskow told the Japan National Press Club that the United States has resumed flights of the Sea Stallion helicopters because they had completed safety checks. … The last of Thailand’s 451 medical and engineering personnel in Iraq are scheduled to leave for Kuwait today, and all could be back in Bangkok ahead of the Sept. 20 schedule, a Thai officer said yesterday. The Thai troops have completed a yearlong deployment, marred by the deaths of two soldiers in a truck-bomb attack in December.

From staff reports and wire dispatches


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