- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 17, 2005

CHINA

Russia denies plan for invading Taiwan

MOSCOW — Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, Russia’s armed forces chief of staff, denied yesterday that joint Russian-Chinese military maneuvers scheduled this year are a rehearsal for an invasion of the Republic of China (Taiwan), as suggested by a newspaper here.

“These exercises are certainly not directed against any third country,” government-run Russian Information Agency Novosti quoted Gen. Baluyevsky as saying from Beijing, where he arrived Wednesday for talks with Chinese military authorities.

His comments came after the respected business daily Kommersant reported that the format for war games scheduled along the shores of the Yellow Sea next autumn was altered to resemble an attack on Taiwan. “[I]t has emerged that the armies of the two countries will in fact rehearse an invasion of Taiwan,” the daily said under the headline: “China wants to use Russian army for its own ends.”

PHILIPPINES

5 die, 13 missing after freak storm

MANILA — At least five persons were killed and 13 were missing after a freak storm tore through the central Philippines yesterday, rescue officials said.

A wooden-hull ferry and a fishing boat capsized off a pier at the port city of Ormoc on Leyte in heavy seas caused by Tropical Storm Roke, the civil defense office and coast guard said. Twenty-five passengers were rescued from the ferry, but three drowned and eight were missing. Eleven persons were rescued from the fishing boat and five were missing.

MALAYSIA

3 nations’ exclusion urged at talks

KUALA LUMPUR — Australia, New Zealand and India should be excluded from the first East Asia Summit to be held in Kuala Lumpur in December, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said.

The gathering is intended to enhance cooperation between the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Japan, South Korea and China — known as ASEAN Plus Three — in a step toward an East Asian Community.

Weekly notes

Vietnam’s southern business capital, Ho Chi Minh City, will start work next month on a $70 million bridge across the Saigon River to connect to a future town, officials running the project said yesterday. “Building the bridge will take about 15 months,” said Tran Van Hiep, head of the city’s planning and service department. He told Agence France-Presse the project would be financed in full by municipal authorities of the former Saigon. … A top North Korean official briefed South African leaders yesterday on stalled nuclear talks, a move analysts said might mark a fresh effort to open back-door communication channels. Yang Hyong-sop, the first senior North Korean leader to visit South Africa, told reporters after a meeting with South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma: “It is one of the top world issues … of course we discussed it.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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