Tuesday, May 18, 2004


U.S. calls threat to Taiwan ‘unhelpful’

The State Department, treading carefully, chided China yesterday for threatening to crush any moves by the Republic of China (Taiwan) toward independence.

In a statement issued Sunday, China denounced the island’s democratically elected leader, Chen Shui-bian, as a man of bad faith and threatened to “firmly and thoroughly” crush any moves toward independence.

State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said yesterday: “There are portions in the statement that threaten the use of force against Taiwan, and we view those parts as unhelpful. And the use of force is a message that we, the United States, oppose.”


Sikh boys ordered to remove turbans

PARIS — Sikh schoolboys must exchange their turbans for hairnets when a law banning religious apparel in public schools takes effect in September, Education Minister Francois Fillon said yesterday, shocking representatives of the Sikh community.

A new law forbids conspicuous religious symbols and attire in the classroom, such as the Jewish skullcap and large Christian crosses, but it is aimed chiefly at the Muslim head scarf.


President Roh accepts U.S. troop withdrawal

SEOUL — President Roh Moo-hyun has told President Bush he accepts American plans to shift troops from South Korea to Iraq.

Mr. Bush telephoned Mr. Roh last night to congratulate him on his reinstatement last week from the limbo of impeachment. The 17-minute call came after news broke of U.S. plans to shift 3,600 soldiers to Iraq from South Korea to shore up forces there.

Mr. Roh’s office said today that he “expressed understanding” of the U.S. move and that Mr. Bush had said the decision did not diminish U.S. pledges to defend South Korea against attack from North Korea.


Jail fire kills 102 inmates

TEGUCIGALPA — A short-circuit in a refrigerator at a northern Honduras jail sparked a fire that killed 102 inmates and injured 26 early yesterday, authorities said.

Armando Calidonio, the security vice minister, said the fire quickly consumed part of the jail housing gang members, many detained during a recent crackdown on Honduras’ 500 gangs. Most of the inmates were sleeping at the time.

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