- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 23, 2006

THAILAND

Violence feared at anti-Thaksin rally

BANGKOK — Thai authorities have warned of more violence after a government critic’s office was bombed ahead of a mass rally Sunday against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

A bomb blast outside the offices of the Santi Asoke Buddhist sect that has called for Mr. Thaksin’s resignation was the first violence in weeks of protests against Mr. Thaksin.

He is under pressure to quit over accusations of wrongdoing in the sale of his family’s share of the Shin Corp. empire to his handling of the Islamic insurgency in southern Thailand.

KOREAS

North, South eye POWs, missing

SEOUL — North and South Korea said yesterday they have agreed to discuss the fate of South Korean prisoners of war and civilians suspected of being captured and held by the North.

It is the first time North Korea agreed to discuss the issue of postwar captives, mostly fishermen seized at sea. The agreement came on the final day of a three-day meeting of Red Cross officials from the two Koreas at the Mount Kumgang resort in the North.

The joint statement did not refer specifically to “abductees.” North Korea has shown sensitivity to the subject of POWs and abductees, and South Korean officials have previously been careful of their words when discussing the subject.

SOLOMON ISLANDS

First elections loom since ‘03 rampages

SYDNEY, Australia — The Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, racked by ethnic violence in 2003 and on the verge of collapse, will hold an election April 5.

Prime Minister Allan Kemakeza said yesterday he expects a free and safe election, the first since a multinational force arrived in 2003 to stop the country’s descent into anarchy as armed ethnic gangs took over.

“I am confident that the campaign period, as well as the actual election, will run smoothly,” Mr. Kemakeza told Solomon Islands radio in the capital, Honiara. He was elected in 2001 at the last elections.

Weekly notes

Rescuers at Guinsaugon in the Philippines began sinking in the mud and radioed for help while trying to extricate a body from a landslide that entombed a village, one of several complications that led to suspension of the search yesterday. The official body count stood at 122 and was expected to rise to more than 1,000. … Vietnam said yesterday its shoe industry is working under market economy rules and denied any dumping in the European market, urging the European Union to make a fair decision on the issue. The EU is about to take anti-dumping action against Chinese and Vietnamese shoemakers, based on “compelling evidence” of unfair state support of shoe manufacturers in the two countries.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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