- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 4, 2005

CHINA

Summit canceled due to Katrina

BEIJING — Chinese President Hu Jintao yesterday postponed his official visit to Washington this week due to Hurricane Katrina, but he and President Bush agreed to meet on the sidelines of a U.N. assembly in New York later this month.

The postponement upset Mr. Hu’s plans to try to polish Beijing’s image in Washington amid strains over textile imports, China’s growing economic and military power, human rights and other issues. It would have been Mr. Hu’s first U.S. visit since becoming president in 2003.

Mr. Hu talked with Mr. Bush by phone, and the two leaders agreed to the postponement due to Katrina, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

AFGHANISTAN

British hostage, Japanese tourists dead

KABUL — A kidnapped British engineer was found dead yesterday and two bodies discovered in Afghanistan’s southern desert were identified as missing Japanese tourists, raising fears that elections later this month may be disrupted by militant violence.

Taliban-led rebels have vowed to disrupt the Sept. 18 poll, the next key step toward democracy after a quarter century of war and civil strife. In the past six months, a surge in fighting has left more than 1,100 people dead, including at least four election workers and four candidates.

U.S.-led coalition troops raiding a Taliban hide-out in the Afghan mountains found the body of a Briton believed to be David Addison, Britain’s Foreign Office said yesterday.

NEPAL

Maoist rebels declare cease-fire

KATMANDU — Communist rebels in Nepal said yesterday that they were unilaterally suspending attacks for the next three months.

The cease-fire would take effect immediately, rebel leader Prachanda said in a statement sent to news organizations.

The elusive leader said his fighters would not attack any government or civilian targets during the period but would defend their positions.

SYRIA

Five militants killed in clash with troops

DAMASCUS — Syrian troops clashed with members of a militant group in the northern city of Hama, a region that once was the site of bloody battles between the government and Muslim radicals. Five Islamist militants were killed, Syria’s state-run news agency reported yesterday.

SANA, quoting an unnamed official at the Syrian interior ministry, said the clash took place Friday night and that the militants belonged to the Jund al-Sham Islamic militant organization.

In 1982, Islamic fundamentalists of the Muslim Brotherhood staged a rebellion in Hama. During the ensuing clashes, Syrian forces razed much of the city, killing as many as 10,000 people.

NORTH KOREA

Pyongyang set to talk, U.S. lawmakers say

BEIJING — Two U.S. lawmakers who visited North Korea said yesterday that Pyongyang appears ready to return to disarmament talks as promised the week of Sept. 12, but still wants a nuclear reactor — a key sticking point.

North Korean officials did not name a date, “but there was strong confidence that this would go forth on a timely basis, as has been indicated,” said Rep. Jim Leach, Iowa Republican, chairman of the House subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. He traveled to North Korea last week with Rep. Tom Lantos, California Democrat.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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