- The Washington Times - Friday, September 21, 2007

CHINA

Olympic torch route to Everest

BEIJING — Chinese mountaineers will carry the Olympic torch to the top of Mount Everest, making the final assault on the world’s tallest peak from a staging camp some 500 yards from the summit, the official Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday.

The head of China’s mountaineering team, Wang Yongfeng, said plans for the Everest leg of the torch relay for the 2008 Beijing Olympics were being finalized. From base camp at 17,000 feet, the torch will be taken to a staging area and from there to the 29,035-foot summit.

Groups critical of China’s harsh 57-year rule over Tibet have decried the torch route as a stunt meant to lend legitimacy to Chinese control.

CHINA

Religious freedom record defended

BEIJING — China defended its record on religious freedom yesterday, saying all Chinese can worship as they choose with no restrictions, and it criticized a U.S. government report that said Beijing persecutes some believers.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said a recent U.S. government report on religious freedom “flagrantly interfered in China’s internal affairs” and “contained groundless accusations about China’s religious and ethnic policies.”

NEW ZEALAND

Warrant for father of abandoned girl

WELLINGTON — Police issued a murder and kidnapping warrant yesterday for the father of a 3-year-old girl found abandoned in Australia after her mother’s body was found stuffed in the trunk of a car in New Zealand.

The warrant for the arrest of Xue Naiyin, a Chinese- language magazine publisher in New Zealand’s largest city of Auckland, was sent to Interpol in the United States, where Mr. Xue fled several days ago, police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty said.

A three-nation investigation was launched after Mr. Xue was captured on security-camera footage leaving his daughter, Qian Xun Xue, alone at a train station in Melbourne, Australia, on Saturday. He boarded a flight to Los Angeles shortly afterward.

THAILAND

Identifying victims may take weeks

BANGKOK — Thai police said yesterday it could take two more weeks to identify 33 victims of a plane crash that killed 89 persons, as they came under pressure from foreign governments to release the bodies.

The jet, operated by budget airline One-Two-Go, slammed onto the runway on the holiday island of Phuket in driving rain and strong wind, careened into an embankment and broke up in flames.

A total of 89 of the 130 passengers and crew were killed in Sunday’s accident.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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