- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 12, 2005


Moscow downgrades diplomacy with Tokyo

MOSCOW — Russia’s presidential office has removed Japan from its priority list on diplomacy toward Asian countries, apparently because of stalemated bilateral negotiations over disputed islands and slackened Japanese investment in Russia, sources told Kyodo News yesterday.

Japan had been put on the priority list with China, India and Indonesia, but was recently downgraded to the secondary group, the sources said. Russia’s Office of the President divides Asian countries into the two categories. The lists are based primarily on Russia’s economic interests with these countries.

Analysts on Japan-Russia relations said the failure to arrange President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Japan in April as hoped by Tokyo was connected with the lowered priority. They said it also reflects Russia’s plan to construct an oil pipeline to China rather than its Pacific coast as sought by Japan.


Nuclear activity by Pyongyang ripped

TOKYO — Japan criticized North Korea yesterday for removing nuclear fuel rods in a key step to building more atomic bombs, saying it has “extremely strong concerns” about the aims of the communist dictatorship.

“Having operated the reactor is a big problem itself, as it is clear that the move is not for nuclear power generation but to get plutonium,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda told reporters.

“As they have indicated last year and this year that they have finished arming themselves with nuclear weapons, we have extremely strong concerns,” the government spokesman said.

Mr. Hosoda called on Pyongyang to return to six-party talks involving China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States to solve the nuclear standoff. Tokyo has particular concerns about North Korea, which fired a missile over Japan into the Pacific Ocean in 1998.

Weekly notes

Indonesia said yesterday that it plans to lift Aceh’s year-old state of civil emergency but will continue military operations to rid the tsunami-ravaged province of separatist rebels. The state of civil emergency giving authorities wider powers in security matters will end Wednesday, said Adm. Adisucipto Widodo, the top security minister. … AIDS infections have increased significantly in the Philippines, with new case reports reaching at least twice the 10 cases per month of the 1990s, Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit said yesterday. The country’s classification as a “low and slow” HIV infection area no longer applies, he said: “What we have now is ‘hidden and growing.’ ”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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