- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 16, 2006

PHILIPPINES

Compromise likely in fight over assets

MANILA — Imelda Marcos, the former Philippine first lady famed for her love of shoes, may agree to a deal with the government on her family’s purported stolen assets worth about $10 billion, her attorney said.

The cash-strapped government has been fighting a legal battle for 20 years to gain access to bank deposits, shares, jewelry, artwork, farm land and other properties purportedly salted away by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his cronies.

Attorney Roberto Sison said that the settlement may involve Mrs. Marcos voluntarily surrendering hidden assets in exchange for the government dropping hundreds of civil cases against her family.

CHINA

Dissident, 72, freed from prison

BEIJING — China has freed the oldest jailed member of a banned political party in another release of a dissident before President Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington next month, a U.S.-based dissident said.

Tong Shidong, 72, a retired physics professor and China Democracy Party member, was released March 9 from Chishan Prison in the central province of Hunan, Xu Wenli, an exiled member of the organization, told Agence France-Presse on Wednesday.

Mr. Tong was freed about three years before his original release date of June 9, 2009. He was arrested in 1999 and sentenced to 10 years in jail.

VIETNAM

Cambodian king makes first visit

HANOI — King Norodom Sihamoni yesterday began the first visit by a Cambodian monarch to Vietnam in more than a decade, aiming to ease historically tense relations between the neighbors.

The 52-year-old monarch is a largely ceremonial figure in his Buddhist kingdom, but both sides have officially hailed his first royal tour since he took the throne in late 2004 as a boost to improving ties.

Communist Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1978, ousted Pol Pot’s genocidal Khmer Rouge regime and occupied the country for a decade.

Weekly Notes

Police in Australia charged a driver with “reversing further than necessary” after he traveled backward for more than 25 miles along the busy Hume Highway between Sydney and Melbourne on Monday. The man, who said reverse was the only gear in the car that worked, also was charged with unlicensed driving and driving an unregistered car. … Malaysia’s “half bridge” to Singapore, which the former is constructing even though its neighbor has not approved plans to build the other half, could be finished by 2009, said Deputy Works Minister Muhammad Zin Muhammad. The bridge will replace an 80-year-old causeway that links the two countries.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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