Seoul, Beijing fear nuclear test
SEOUL — South Korea and China have agreed to cooperate to prevent a possible nuclear test by North Korea amid increasing reports citing suspicious activity in the communist nation, Seoul’s presidential security adviser said yesterday.
A nuclear test by the communist North would be “a grave situation of a different level from missile launches,” Song Min-soon said after returning from a two-day trip to China, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.
South Korea and China, along with Japan, Russia and the United States, have tried to convince the North to abandon its nuclear program at six-nation negotiations that have been on hold since November.
Iran sanctions rejected for now
MOSCOW — Russia rejected talk for now of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.
“I believe that the question is not so serious at the moment for the U.N. Security Council or the group of six [nations] to consider any introduction of sanctions. Russia stands for further political and diplomatic efforts to settle the issue,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov told reporters yesterday during a trip to Russia’s Far East.
Washington has said the six powers — the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — will move quickly to adopt sanctions if Iran disregards an Aug. 31 U.N. deadline to suspend its uranium enrichment program.
Hamas attempts to free journalists
GAZA CITY — With a 72-hour deadline approaching, a senior Palestinian security official said yesterday he saw the “first promising signs” in efforts to free two Fox News journalists who were abducted in Gaza nearly two weeks ago.
The comments by Interior Minister Said Siyam of Hamas marked the first upbeat assessment by Palestinian officials since Fox correspondent Steve Centanni of Washington and cameraman Olaf Wiig of New Zealand were seized from their TV van in Gaza City on Aug. 14.
A previously unknown group calling itself the Holy Jihad Brigades is demanding the release of all Muslims held by the United States by midnight today, in exchange for the two journalists.
Tutu: Zuma unfit to be president
CAPE TOWN — Desmond Tutu, the archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, has condemned the sexual “misdemeanors” of one of South Africa’s most popular politicians, accusing Jacob Zuma, the presidential hopeful, of being unfit to rule.
Mr. Zuma, who was sacked as deputy president last year, is running an unofficial — and highly popular — campaign to succeed President Thabo Mbeki. The Zulu politician was acquitted of raping a family friend in May.
Mr. Zuma, 64, admitted having unprotected sex with the woman, who is HIV-positive and less than half his age.
Hitler’s artwork to be auctioned
LONDON — Twenty-one watercolors and sketches attributed to Adolf Hitler are to be sold by a British auction house Sept. 26, officials said yesterday.
Ian Morris, auctioneer at Jefferys Auctioneers at Lostwithiel in Cornwall, southwest England, said the pictures were made when Hitler was a soldier serving in Flanders during World War I.
The pictures, mostly pallid landscapes, are not regarded as adept, but the auctioneers say some could sell for up to $8,000 apiece.
President denies sexual harassment
JERUSALEM — Israeli President Moshe Katsav denied yesterday accusations that he coerced a former female employee into having sex with him, in his first public interviews since he was interrogated by police this week.
“These are absurd allegations,” he told the Yediot Ahronot newspaper. “I never had sex with [that woman].”
The president, whose role is largely ceremonial, also told Israel radio that he was the victim of a “public lynching without trial or investigation.”
From wire dispatches and staff reports