Court upholds terms for three reformers
RIYADH — A Saudi court has upheld jail terms of six to nine years for three prominent campaigners who called for political reforms in the absolute monarchy, their attorney said yesterday.
Ali Ghothami said he was told by a Riyadh judge that the court had rejected appeals by the two university lecturers and a poet against the sentences passed in May.
The case of the men, who had petitioned for Saudi Arabia to move toward a constitutional monarchy, has highlighted the limits of the kingdom’s modest reform program.
Saudi Arabia held partial, men-only local elections earlier this year, but supporters of the three reformists say their treatment shows that the royal family will not tolerate any questioning of its power.
Progress sought in this week’s talks
BEIJING — Delegations from North and South Korea said yesterday that they wanted to see “substantial progress” this week in six-party talks aimed at ending Pyongyang’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.
They also said they wanted the participants to come up with a framework for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.
South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Song Min-soon, Seoul’s envoy to the talks, met with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Kye-gwan, in Beijing ahead of the talks, which open tomorrow.
Government to forgo ASEAN chairmanship
VIENTIANE, Laos — Military-ruled Burma indicated yesterday it would forfeit its chance to assume the rotating chairmanship of the regional ASEAN security organization to spare the group from rebukes over the ruling junta’s poor democracy record.
Burma’s colleagues in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have urged it to meet U.S. and European Union demands to release Nobel laureate and pro-democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest or pass on its scheduled chairmanship of the group in late 2006.
Australia, meanwhile, appeared set to embrace a regional nonaggression pact, clearing the way for it to join an East Asian trade bloc.
Zimbabwean leader seeks aid during visit
BEIJING — Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will meet with top Chinese leaders during a six-day visit, state press said yesterday, amid efforts to secure alternative credit lines as Western nations snub the southern African nation.
Xinhua news agency said Mr. Mugabe, whose government is blamed by critics for a crippling economic crisis, would meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Wu Bangguo, who is No. 2 in the communist hierarchy, and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.
It said Mr. Mugabe was in the northeastern province of Jilin to visit the headquarters of First Automotive Works Group, the country’s top vehicle maker.
Gunmen kill police, stage prison break
ABIDJAN — Gunmen attacked a police station in a town in Ivory Coast yesterday after killing five military policemen and seizing weapons in a night raid in the main city, Abidjan, the army said.
Residents fled as the army sent troops to regain control of the town of Agboville, where as many as 2,000 prisoners escaped when the unidentified gunmen attacked a prison during the chaos.
From wire dispatches and staff reports