- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 1, 2006

NORTH KOREA

Regime discourages cigarette smoking

BEIJING — North Korea is increasing public nonsmoking spaces, enacting a ban on the sale of cigarettes to children and denying smokers university entrance as part of a campaign to reduce smoking, Pyongyang’s official press reported Wednesday.

In a report for the World No Tobacco Day, the Korean Central News Agency said the rate of the country’s smoking population has dropped by about 15 percent since 2000. “The government has set itself the goal of reducing the smoking rate to 30 percent by 2010,” KCNA said. Japan’s Kyodo News relayed the KCNA report and said it did not reveal the number of smokers in North Korea nor the percentage of the population they constituted.

Since late 1999, the North Korean press has quoted the communist country’s leader, Kim Jong-il, as calling on the people to stop smoking.

CHINA

Beijing criticizes Taiwan for report

BEIJING — China criticized the Republic of China (Taiwan) this week for issuing a national security report last month that referred to a military threat from the mainland and promised to increase the island’s defense spending by about 20 percent.

The report “showed the Taiwan authorities’ obstinate stance aimed at independence,” Li Weiyi, a spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of China’s State Council, told reporters. “It is the wish of compatriots in the mainland and Taiwan to oppose Taiwan independence and seek stability on both sides of the Taiwan Strait,” Mr. Li said.

EAST TIMOR

Turmoil hampers coffee harvest

DILI — This country’s resurgent coffee industry, which supplies high-quality organic beans to companies such as Starbucks, has been badly hurt by a wave of violence in the capital, officials said yesterday.

A fired army commander whose rebellion triggered the recent violence demanded yesterday that the prime minister resign and be tried for purportedly ordering troops to shoot civilians, saying it is the only way to end the fighting.

Harvesting began in May and normally peaks in late June, “but with all roads blocked, there’s no way to transport the beans from inland to the processing factories,” said Caetano Cristovao, director of coffee at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Weekly notes

Former Czech President Vaclav Havel and past dissidents against Czechoslovakia’s former communist regime have signed an open letter supporting a call by Vietnamese dissidents for democratic change in their country, Mr. Havel’s office announced this week. His open letter endorsed an April 18 declaration by 118 Vietnamese dissidents calling for democracy and freedom in their country. The letter drew a parallel between Vietnam today and pre-1990 Czechoslovakia. … Five days after an earthquake struck the island of Java in Indonesia, rescuers were still pulling dead bodies from the rubble. A Social Ministry official said yesterday that the death toll had risen to 6,234.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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