- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 4, 2007

TAIWAN

Chen defends island ‘sovereignty’

TAIPEI — Chen Shui-bian, president of the Republic of China (Taiwan), yesterday made unusually strong pro-independence remarks in a message apparently aimed at provoking mainland China and shoring up his base.

“Taiwan should be independent,” Mr. Chen said to cheers at a banquet marking the 25th anniversary of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, a pro-independence group.

“Taiwan is a country whose sovereignty lies outside the People’s Republic of China,” he said, referring to the communist Chinese government.

Mr. Chen’s remarks appeared timed to coincide with the opening of the Chinese legislature’s annual session today. Beijing claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has threatened to attack if the island formalizes its de facto independence.

GEORGIA

President promises to boost Iraq force

TBILISI — Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said yesterday that his former Soviet nation would send more troops to Iraq to take part in the multinational peacekeeping force.

Georgia, which seeks NATO membership, is a key U.S. ally in the Caucasus region. Georgia has backed U.S. efforts in Iraq and maintains about 850 troops there.

“We intend to increase our participation in Iraq and offer more help to our American and Iraqi colleagues,” Mr. Saakashvili said in televised remarks. He said his nation also wanted to strengthen its peacekeeping effort in Afghanistan.

LEBANON

Opposition leader sees end to crisis

BEIRUT — A Lebanese opposition leader said a deal to end the country’s worst political crisis since the 1975-90 civil war could emerge “within 48 hours,” a newspaper reported yesterday.

Asharq Al-Awsat quoted opposition leader Nabih Berri, who is also speaker of parliament, as saying the chances of a solution were greater now than at any other point in the crisis, which at times has spilled into lethal street violence.

Lebanon was on the agenda of a Saudi-Iranian summit on Saturday. The states are important backers of the camps which are tussling for control of the Beirut government.

JAPAN

President rejects brothel apology

TOKYO — Japan will not apologize again for its World War II military brothels, even if the U.S. Congress passes a resolution demanding it, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told parliament today.

Mr. Abe, elaborating on his denial last week that women were forced to serve as front-line prostitutes, said none of the testimony in hearings last month by the U.S. House of Representatives offered any solid proof of abuse.

“I must say we will not apologize even if there’s a resolution,” Mr. Abe told lawmakers in a lengthy debate, during which he also said he stood by Japan’s landmark 1993 apology on the brothels.

IRAN

Journalists arrested on security charges

TEHRAN — The Intelligence Ministry said yesterday that several Iranian journalists were arrested on charges that included acting against national security with foreign backing, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Iran’s highest authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had warned about a “velvet revolution” — a supposed U.S. plot to use intellectuals and others inside the country to bring about “regime change.”

“They were spreading reports to create divisions among Iran’s ethnic groups. They were getting significant amounts of dollars from abroad,” IRNA quoted a ministry statement as saying. The report did not name the journalists or cite any other countries.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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