- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 10, 2007

SOUTH KOREA

North to provide rail-link security

SEOUL — Military officers from the two Koreas put the final touches on a security agreement for a test run of trains across their heavily armed border as their talks stretched into an unscheduled fourth day today.

The planned test would be the first time trains have crossed the tightly sealed border in more than a half-century. Inter-Korean rail links were severed during the 1950-53 Korean War, but two tracks have been reconnected as part of a series of reconciliation projects since the two Koreas held the first meeting of their leaders in 2000.

North Korea’s military consented Wednesday to providing security for next week’s trial run on a one-time basis, but the South was seeking to expand the agreement to cover future border crossings as well. South Korea hopes inter-Korean rail traffic could be linked ultimately to Russia’s Trans-Siberian railroad and allow an overland route connecting the peninsula to Europe — significantly cutting delivery times for heavy freight that now requires sea transport.

VIETNAM

3 dissidents sentenced for propaganda

HO CHI MINH CITY — Vietnam imprisoned three activists yesterday for three to five years for spreading propaganda against the communist state in the first of three dissident trials to be held within a week.

The defendants were members of the banned People’s Democratic Party and had communicated online with Vietnamese-American political activist Cong Thanh Do, who was detained, then expelled from Vietnam in September.

Physician Le Nguyen Sang, 48, was sentenced to five years in jail; lawyer Nguyen Bac Truyen, 39, got a four-year sentence, and journalist Huynh Nguyen Dao, also 39, was imprisoned for three years in the half-day trial.

THAILAND

U.S. Marine general welcomes China ties

PATTAYA — China’s bid for closer military ties with Southeast Asia is a “positive overture” and does not pose a threat to U.S. interests in the region, a top U.S. military commander said yesterday.

“Our reaction to it is, we are going to reach out to China and engage with them. If they want to exercise together, I’m prepared to exercise right now,” said Lt. Gen. John Goodman, commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces in the Pacific.

“I view it as an opportunity. It is change, but change needs to be viewed from a long-term perspective,” he told reporters in this resort town, where the annual Thai-U.S. “Cobra Gold” war games involving 5,000 military personnel — including 1,900 from the United States and contingents from Singapore, Japan and Indonesia — began Tuesday.

Weekly notes …

Philippine airport police were not amused when an Italian joked that he belonged to Osama bin Laden’s terrorist group and had three nuclear bombs in his pocket. Salvini Fabrizio, 58, was asked by an airport policeman to empty his pockets before boarding a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong on Wednesday. The policeman was not amused and Mr. Fabrizio was arrested for making a false bomb threat. He faces two to three years in prison. … Two Solomon Islanders were acquitted by a court yesterday of murdering an Australian policeman in a sniper attack in the capital, Honiara, in 2004. Judge Edwin Goldsbrough said there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that James Tatau and John Ome were guilty of killing Adam Dunning on Dec. 22, 2004. The judge described the crime as “horrendous” and said Mr. Dunning was killed as part of a conspiracy to force the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands to leave the country.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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