- The Washington Times - Friday, May 13, 2005

CHINA

Taiwan’s leader rejects definition

BEIJING — China opened a new front yesterday in efforts to draw rival Taiwan into talks on their future, offering a fresh definition of their relationship — “two sides, one China” — but the initiative was rejected quickly by the Taiwanese president.

The characterization was introduced in a statement issued after Chinese President Hu Jintao met with James Soong, the leader of Taiwan’s opposition People First Party.

Beijing previously demanded that talks with Taipei be based on a 1992 declaration that said they are “one China” — a description Republic of China (Taiwan) President Chen Shui-bian has shunned as an acknowledgment that the island is a possession of the communist mainland.

“China did not make any concessions,” Mr. Chen said in an interview on Taiwan’s Formosa Television. “They did not come up with anything new. China’s basic attitude has remained the same.”

Taiwan and China split in 1949 amid civil war.

JORDAN

Pardon for Chalabi in bank scam eyed

AMMAN — Jordan is considering a request by Iraq to pardon Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi but would insist on the return of millions of dollars he was convicted of embezzling in a bank scandal, officials said yesterday.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani had raised Mr. Chalabi’s pardon with King Abdullah II during a visit to Amman this week.

Jordanian investigators estimated the missing bank deposits at $300 million. A military court convicted Mr. Chalabi in absentia of embezzlement, fraud and breach of trust after his Petra Bank collapsed in 1989 and shook Jordan’s financial system. Mr. Chalabi fled Jordan as the scandal broke.

JAPAN

Five-way talks on N. Korea eyed

TOKYO — Japan is considering five-party nuclear talks without North Korea if the communist nation continues its boycott of negotiations, Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said today.

Mr. Machimura said the aim would be to apply further diplomatic pressure on North Korea, which is thought to be extracting additional plutonium for use in nuclear weapons.

Also today, South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Song Min-soon, his country’s main envoy on the dispute, called for “strengthened diplomatic steps” to resolve the issue.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, the main U.S. envoy on the North Korea nuclear issue, was to arrive in Seoul later today.

VATICAN CITY

Pope invites China to establish ties

Pope Benedict XVI sent a veiled message to China yesterday, inviting countries that don’t have diplomatic relations with the Vatican to establish ties soon in a move that could complicate the Holy See’s relations with rival Taiwan.

Benedict didn’t name the countries to which he was reaching out, saying only that he appreciated messages and gestures that came after the death of Pope John Paul II and Benedict’s election as pope. Ambassadors and Cardinal Pio Laghi, a Vatican diplomatic troubleshooter, said Benedict clearly was talking about China.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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