Asian leaders differ on Taiwan
BEIJING — Senior defense officials from Japan and China failed to narrow their differences yesterday over the issue of Taiwan as well as China’s growing military spending in a meeting in Beijing, Japan Defense Agency officials said.
But Japanese Vice Defense Minister Takemasa Moriya and Chinese Gen. Xiong Guangkai, deputy chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army, agreed to work to implement a mutual exchange of fleet visits that has been delayed because of souring bilateral ties, the officials said.
Mr. Moriya told Gen. Xiong that Japan is concerned about the possible “negative impact” of a new Chinese law that authorizes Beijing to attack the Republic of China (Taiwan) if the self-ruled island moves toward formal independence, the officials said.
ILO warns on forced labor
GENEVA — The International Labor Organization yesterday gave Burma until June to make progress on curtailing forced labor, saying it was losing patience with the regime’s incomplete pledges.
After meeting to consider the outcome of a high-level mission to Burma last month, the ILO governing body called on member states to reconsider sanctions that were suspended in 2001 amid promises from Burma’s military leaders to stop forced labor and accept limited ILO surveillance.
Soldiers punished for rights abuses
KATMANDU — Nepal’s army said yesterday that it has punished more than 100 soldiers for violating rights while fighting the communist insurgency in the kingdom.
“At least 40 incidents of rights violations have been probed so far, and 44 soldiers, including senior officers, have been jailed,” army spokesman Brig. Gen. Deepak Kumar Gurung told a press briefing. Others have been dismissed.
The Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission said in January that Nepalese security forces battling Maoist insurgents are killing, abducting and torturing civilians.
New court to try drug lords
KABUL — Afghanistan is building a special court to try traffickers involved in the country’s $2.8 billion narcotics industry, Afghanistan’s counternarcotics czar said yesterday.
During the past year, Afghanistan has trained three judges, seven prosecutors and several investigators for the court, Counternarcotics Minister Habibullah Qaderi told reporters at a press conference in Kabul.
“We plan to train more and more judges because we need a system, we need special judges, special prosecutors and a special court,” Mr. Qaderi said.
The United Nations has warned that Afghanistan, the source of 90 percent of the world’s heroin, is on the brink of becoming a “narcotic state.”
Religion suppressed, U.S. team says
GENEVA — North Korea represses religion and has an official ideology that is a form of secular humanism, a U.S. government agency said yesterday.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom said interviews with North Korean refugees showed a pattern of arrest, imprisonment, torture and execution for public expressions of religion.
From wire dispatches and staff reports