- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 8, 2006


Moscow, Tokyo eye pipeline cooperation

MOSCOW — Talks between Japan and Russia over having Japanese firms join Russia’s development of a Siberian oil field in connection with a project to lay a pipeline to the Pacific coast are progressing, sources familiar with the matter said yesterday.

The two governments hope to open the way for Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Russian President Vladimir Putin to conclude the deal at a bilateral meeting next month in St. Petersburg on the sidelines of the Group of Eight summit, the sources said.

Tokyo, by promising to have Japanese firms join the project, wants to assure that Russia commits to building the eastern half of the projected 2,600-mile pipeline so Siberian oil can be shipped to Japan, they said. Russia has not decided when to begin the eastern half.


National Assembly picks new leaders

BANGKOK — The new National Assembly in Laos elected a president and prime minister and filled other key government positions at its first meeting yesterday, a Laotian Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Yong Chanthalangsy said by telephone that National Assembly members chose Choummaly Chayasone, head of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, as president and elected Politburo member Bouasone Bouphavanh as prime minister, replacing Boungnang Volachit, who was promoted to vice president.

“Our new government will follow the policy we set during the ruling party meeting in March, especially in foreign policy. We will cooperate in the framework of [the Association of Southeast Asian Nations] and other international forums as we did before,” Mr. Yong said. Assembly members chose Thongsing Thammavong as chairman and Thongloun Sisoulid as foreign minister.


15,000 villagers flee spewing volcano

MOUNT MERAPI — Indonesia’s most dangerous volcano spewed a spectacular roiling cloud of hot gas and ash down its southern slope yesterday, sending more than 15,000 villagers running to safety or piling into cars and trucks, scientists said.

“I had time only to gather clothes for my children,” said a villager named Sartini, 24, who jumped into a river to escape the searing heat.

Mount Merapi has been venting steam and ash for weeks, but the burst yesterday morning was the largest yet, with billowing, dark gray clouds rolling 31/2 miles down its slopes, said Sugiono, a vulcanologist.

Weekly notes

Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihamoni is to attend the 60th anniversary celebrations for Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, a senior palace official said yesterday. The official said King Bhumibol invited the Cambodian monarch, who will make his first visit to Thailand since Sihamoni ascended to the throne in October 2004. … Taiwan has agreed with Japan to reduce the number of its large boats fishing big-eye tuna to 280 by the end of 2007 from 474 in 2005 because of the decline of big-eye tuna numbers around the globe, Japan’s Fisheries Agency announced yesterday. The agreement may lead to higher tuna prices in Japan because nearly all big-eye tuna caught by Taiwanese boats is exported to Japan for consumption as sashimi.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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