- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 11, 2006

TAIWAN

Chen visits Indonesia for overnight stop

JAKARTA — Taiwanese leader Chen Shui-bian made an unannounced visit yesterday to Indonesia’s Batam Island, near Singapore, en route home after a weeklong, two-leg trip to Latin America, sources on Batam said.

They said Mr. Chen arrived there from Abu Dhabi at 2:30 p.m. “for refueling” and planed to stay until this morning, when he was to continue his journey home. The Taiwanese leader attended a dinner reception Thursday evening hosted by Ismeth Abdullah, governor of the Riau Islands and chairman of the Batam Industrial Development Authority.

Huang Chih-fang, foreign minister of the Republic of China (Taiwan), was quoted as saying that Batam is a newly developed part of Indonesia where there are several investment projects by Taiwanese businesses. Indonesia does not have diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but the two sides have strong economic links, with Taiwan ranking among the top sources of foreign investment in Indonesia and thousands of Indonesians working in Taiwan.

PHILIPPINES

Bishops seek vote-fraud report

MANILA — The country’s Roman Catholic bishops called on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo yesterday to make public a classified military report on the role of four generals in reputed vote manipulation during the 2004 presidential elections.

The statement by the bishops, a powerful force in the mainly Catholic country, was made as Mrs. Arroyo’s foes plan attempts to oust her by an impeachment this year in the lower house of Congress. “We also ask for the full disclosure of the Mayuga report on the conduct of certain military officers in the last elections,” said Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

Mrs. Arroyo and Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz have blocked efforts by lawmakers to get copies of a report by Vice Adm. Mateo Mayuga into the role of four generals in reputed election cheating in 2004. The admiral was asked last month by the head of the armed forces to compile the report.

AUSTRALIA

Howard explains arms spending increase

CANBERRA — Defense spending must increase so the country can respond to regional emergencies and take part in “coalition operations” in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan, Prime Minister John Howard told Reuters news agency yesterday at his office in Parliament House.

“We’ll have regional responsibilities of the Solomons Islands type for years into the future,” Mr. Howard said, referring to an intervention force sent to restore calm to the Pacific island nation. “We need to have a military and defense profile that is appropriate, as well as having the capacity to join coalition operations in other parts of the world,” he added.

His government committed itself on Tuesday to raise military spending by 3 percent a year above the rate of inflation for the next decade to pay for new ships and planes so Australia has greater firepower and can deploy troops faster.

Weekly notes …

China needs to see “a good atmosphere” before accepting Japan’s request to resume foreign ministerial talks, a senior Chinese diplomat said yesterday, indicating a decision will depend on whether the countries can avoid further frictions. Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei also told Kyodo News that Beijing cannot accept Japan’s proposal to solve a bilateral dispute over oil and gas exploration rights in the East China Sea before talks on the subject planned on the sidelines of the May 23-24 Asia Cooperation Dialogue in Doha, Qatar, Mr. Wu said. … Ailing Indonesian former President Suharto underwent surgery yesterday for the second time in a week after suffering a relapse, one of his doctors said. Suharto, 84, was vomiting and suffering breathing problems after an operation Sunday for intestinal problems, the doctor said. A small tube was inserted in the upper left side of his stomach yesterday to relieve pressure from gas and fluid. The doctor did not comment on the patient’s condition.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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