U.S. envoy fails to restart negotiations
SEOUL | President Obama’s envoy to North Korea said Thursday that his trip to Pyongyang yielded a common understanding on the need to restart nuclear disarmament talks - but no clear time frame on when the regime might return to the negotiations.
Ambassador Stephen Bosworth spent three days in the North Korean capital for the Obama administration’s first high-level talks with Pyongyang after months of nuclear defiance and threatening rhetoric from the communist regime.
Mr. Bosworth and his delegation flew to Pyongyang with a clear mission: to coax North Korea to return to the six-nation disarmament talks the regime walked away from earlier this year.
Three arrested in toxic milk scam
BEIJING | Police in China have detained three people suspected of selling tons of milk powder tainted with an industrial chemical, a year after more than 300,000 children were sickened in a massive milk safety scandal.
The general manager of the Shaanxi Jinqiao Dairy Co. in northern Shaanxi province and two employees were detained Dec. 2 and accused of producing and selling toxic food, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday.
China late last month executed a dairy farmer and a milk salesman for their roles in last year’s scandal that killed six children and sickened thousands. Thursday’s report said the three were arrested for selling toxic milk in September.
Obama eyes more arms sales
The Obama administration is moving toward possible new arms sales to Taiwan, including design work on diesel-electric submarines, a U.S. State Department official told Reuters news agency.
China strongly opposes arms sales to Taiwan, which Beijing sees as a renegade province, as interference in its domestic affairs.
New submarines could help challenge any Chinese seaborne assault on the self-governing island, of which Beijing reserves the right to take by force.
Also progressing toward notification to Congress is the sale to Taiwan of UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, said Robert Kovac, acting deputy assistant secretary of state for defense trade.
In addition, the Obama administration is weighing more sales to Taiwan of Patriot “Advanced Capability” missiles known as PAC-3, as well as an operations deal for the “Po Sheng” (Broad Victory) command-and-control program, Mr. Kovac said.
Hostage talks delayed for a day
MANILA | Philippine negotiators put off until Friday talks to secure the release of 57 people taken hostage by armed mountain tribesmen from a school in the troubled southern region of Mindanao.
The raid was carried out less than three weeks after a massacre in a nearby province in which 57 people were killed, throwing an unwelcome spotlight on the Southeast Asian nation and raising tensions ahead of presidential elections next year.
The hostages were being held in a remote forested area near the town of Prosperidad in Agusan del Sur province. Police said the gunmen had seized 75 people but later freed 18, including all 17 children.
Authorities described the gunmen as former members of a civilian militia who had taken to banditry.
From wire dispatches and staff reports