- The Washington Times - Friday, May 19, 2006

NORTH KOREA

Long-range missile moved to launch pad

SEOUL — North Korea moved a missile to a launch site this month, but there has been no credible intelligence yet that the country is preparing to test fire it, South Korean and Japanese officials said yesterday.

Test firing a long-range missile would drastically escalate tension in Northeast Asia and beyond and would likely set back international efforts to persuade North Korea to disarm and open up to the outside world.

U.S. officials say the 116-foot-long Taepo-Dong-2 has a range of 9,300 miles and could reach the U.S. mainland.

NETHERLANDS

Prime minister wants lawmaker to stay

THE HAGUE — Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said yesterday he wished for lawmaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali to be able to remain a Dutch national despite a row over her citizenship, which is at risk of being revoked because she lied on her asylum application.

Somali-born Mrs. Hirsi Ali announced this week that she planned to leave the Netherlands in a dispute over false statements she made in her asylum application in 1992.

Dutch Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk said the fact that Mrs. Hirsi Ali lied about her name and birth date made her citizenship invalid.

CHINA

Mao portrait falls victim to capitalism

BEIJING — A portrait of China’s founding communist leader is getting the ultimate capitalist treatment.

The painting of Mao Tse-tung that was used as a model for portraits that overlook Beijing’s Tiananmen Square will be sold at auction June 3.

The painting is expected to bring $120,000-$150,000 at the sale, which is open to both Chinese and foreign bidders, said Mei Ligang, a spokesman for Beijing Huachen Auctions.

VATICAN

Accused priest told to pray and repent

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican said yesterday it had asked the Mexican founder of the traditionalist order Legionaries of Christ to renounce celebrating public Mass and live a life of “prayer and penance” following its investigation into charges he sexually abused seminarians.

The Legionaries said that the Rev. Marcial Maciel, while declaring himself innocent of charges spanning several decades, accepted the Vatican decision “with faith, complete serenity and tranquility of conscience.”

Pope Benedict XVI approved the sanctions against Father Maciel, making it the first major sexual abuse disciplinary case he has handled since taking office last year.

AFGHANISTAN

U.S. officials doubt rebel leader’s capture

KANDAHAR — Officials of the U.S.-led coalition lauded Afghan security forces yesterday for repulsing Taliban militants in fierce fighting, but raised doubts over Afghan claims that a captured man might be a top rebel leader.

A two-day storm of violence in southern Afghanistan ended Thursday with about 120 people dead and dozens of militants in custody, coalition and Afghan officials said.

A U.S. military spokesman, Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, said that after checking with coalition officials, it appeared that a one-legged man detained was not the feared Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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