- The Washington Times - Friday, September 30, 2005

NORTH KOREA

Millions leave capital to help with harvest

SEOUL — More than a million North Koreans are being sent each day on trains around the country to help with the annual harvest that is expected to be sufficient this year, Pyongyang’s official media said yesterday.

Special trains are transporting officials, workers and residents of the capital to farms on the outskirts as well as to North Hwanghae province, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported. The report said the daily number averaged 1.17 million people.

Pyongyang has claimed that this year’s harvest will be sufficient to wean the communist country off international food handouts.

NETHERLANDS

Plan OK’d to expel criminal immigrants

THE HAGUE — The Dutch government endorsed yesterday a proposal from Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk to expel immigrants who within three years of their legitimate arrival in the Netherlands commit a crime that carries a jail sentence, the ANP news agency reported.

The new proposal will apply to immigrants who are legal residents of the Netherlands with a residence, work or study permit. Currently, such immigrants can only be expelled if they have committed serious crimes and after their sentence has been completed.

Mrs. Verdonk’s tough approach as immigration minister prompted protests in the Netherlands last year after she drew up a plan to deport 26,000 failed asylum seekers, some of whom had been living in the Netherlands for more than 10 years.

She also pushed for obligatory language and culture classes for new immigrants to the Netherlands.

SAUDI ARABIA

U.S. issues waiver on religious freedom

The Bush administration has postponed punishing Saudi Arabia for restricting religious freedom, giving the U.S. ally six more months to show it has made progress in its treatment of religious minorities.

One year ago, the State Department declared that religious freedom was absent in the Arab kingdom. Under U.S. law, the Bush administration could have imposed sanctions such as trade restrictions — as it has done with some other countries.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice notified Congress last week that she had authorized a 180-day waiver of action against Saudi Arabia “in order to allow additional time for the continuation of discussions leading to progress on important religious freedom issues.”

AUSTRIA

IAEA rejects Arab call to denounce Israel

VIENNA — The International Atomic Energy Agency unanimously called yesterday for a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East but rejected an Arab call to denounce Israel as a nuclear threat.

Israeli atomic energy chief Gideon Frank said Israel welcomed the idea of such a zone but said it advocates “achieving regional peace and security not arms control per se.”

Israel has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and neither confirms nor denies reports that it has some 200 atomic bombs.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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