- The Washington Times - Friday, June 24, 2005


No date set for nuclear talks

SEOUL — Top North Korean envoys declined to set a date for returning to international nuclear disarmament talks, but returned home yesterday with a pledge of food aid from Seoul and accords on resuming family reunions and other cooperation across their tense border.

During Cabinet-level talks ended Thursday, the two Koreas also agreed to a series of reconciliation meetings in coming months. But the nuclear impasse continued, with the North lashing out at President Bush for meeting a prominent North Korean defector.

Pyongyang has for the past year boycotted six-nation talks aimed at getting it to end a nuclear program that U.S. intelligence believes already has produced at least two atomic bombs. Those talks include the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia.


Refugees may be able to stay

BISHKEK — Kyrgyzstan yesterday stepped back from its decision to expel 29 refugees accused of helping to organize an insurrection in neighboring Uzbekistan amid pressure from the United Nations and human rights groups that fear the asylum seekers could face torture at home.

“After an hour of talks with human rights activists, the prosecutor general announced that from today, the prosecutors would not under any circumstances return the Uzbek refugees in Kyrgyzstan as long as registration and identification procedures by the U.N. and the migration service are completed,” a representative of the prosecutor’s office said.

Bishkek “must not send back citizens from another country if there are strong reasons to think that they could be threatened with torture there, even if we have credible information of criminal acts committed by these persons,” said the representative, Tolekan Ismailova.


IRA apologizes for 1973 slaying

BELFAST — The Irish Republican Army apologized yesterday for the fatal shooting of a Catholic girl in 1973 during a botched ambush on a British army patrol.

The IRA had long insisted that British soldiers killed the girl, 14-year-old Kathleen Feeney, in Londonderry, Northern Ireland’s predominantly Catholic second-largest city. But in a statement published in the Derry Journal newspaper, the outlawed group said a new internal investigation had confirmed what the public had long believed — the IRA did it.

“Our failure to publicly accept responsibility for her death until now has only added to the hurt and pain of the Feeney family,” the IRA statement said. “The leadership of [the IRA] wish to apologize unreservedly to the Feeney family for the death of Kathleen and for all the grief that our actions have caused to them.”


Gamblers caned for first time

BIREUN — Fifteen convicted gamblers were flogged yesterday for illegal gaming in Indonesia — the first time caning was used as punishment in the world’s most populous Muslim country.

After traditional Friday prayers, the 15 convicts were brought to a stage erected outside a mosque, where about 600 people gathered to watch in Bireun, a town in the semiautonomous Aceh region.

Religious officials wearing masks to conceal their identities struck the men on their backs with rattan canes. The blows did not break the skin and the men did not appear in extreme pain. At least one smiled and laughed during the caning.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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