- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 14, 2009


U.S. asked to alter ‘hostile’ policy

SEOUL | North Korea refused Tuesday to give up its nuclear weapons until after the U.S. alters its “hostile policy” toward the regime and proves it does not pose an atomic threat to the wartime rival.

The cryptic statement from North Korea’s Foreign Ministry is the first one to lay out North Korea’s nuclear stance since the last round of international talks on disarming the North in December.

Analysts say the statement — issued a week before President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration — also sends a strong signal that Pyongyang is keen to forge diplomatic relations with the next U.S. administration.

In the statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry reiterated its commitment to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. But it said Washington cannot demand that Pyongyang bare its nuclear arsenal without revealing, and removing, its own rumored nuclear weapons in South Korea. U.S. and South Korea deny there are any nuclear weapons on the peninsula.


Terror recidivism exceeds 10 percent

Terror suspects who have been released from Guantanamo Bay are increasingly returning to the fight against the United States and its allies, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Sixty-one detainees who have been released from the U.S. Navy base prison in Cuba are believed to have rejoined the fight, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said. That’s up from 37 previously, he said.

About 520 Guantanamo detainees have been released from custody or transferred to prisons elsewhere in the world.

Mr. Morrell said the new numbers showed a “pretty substantial increase” of detainees returning to terror missions - from 7 percent to 11 percent.


Resignation rocks ruling party

TOKYO | A reform-minded former Cabinet minister quit Japan’s ruling party Tuesday in a sign that unpopular Prime Minister Taro Aso’s grip over his Liberal Democratic Party has weakened further ahead of an election this year.

With public support ratings below 20 percent, Mr. Aso is struggling to exert leadership in the face of an emboldened opposition, which controls parliament’s upper house and has threatened to stall bills in a bid to force an early election.

Mr. Aso, 68, has ruled out a snap poll, but Yoshimi Watanabe, an ex-financial services minister, and other lawmakers in the Liberal Democratic Party are turning up the heat as anxiety grows within the party that it could lose power after more than 50 years of near-unbroken rule.

Mr. Watanabe has accused Mr. Aso of being too slow in responding to a deepening recession.


Greenpeace buys Heathrow land

LONDON | Plans to build a third runway at London’s congested Heathrow Airport hit a snag Tuesday when Greenpeace and other environmental activists announced they had purchased a substantial plot of land where the planned runway would be built.

The coalition, including actress Emma Thompson, comedian Alistair McGowan and environmentalist Zac Goldsmith, purchased property that is about half the size of a football field in the village of Sipson, where hundreds of homes will be razed if runway plans go ahead.

The property is directly on the site of the proposed runway, Greenpeace Director John Sauven said Tuesday.

The coalition announced its surprise purchase as British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his Cabinet were grappling with the issue of the proposed new runway, which business leaders say is vital if Heathrow is to maintain its status as Europe’s busiest airport.


Islamists on trial in Christian’s killing

JAKARTA | Ten suspected Islamic militants went on trial Tuesday in an Indonesian court for reportedly killing a Christian schoolteacher and plotting to bomb a cafe.

The defendants, including a Singaporean who purportedly met al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, face sentences of up to life in prison if convicted on charges of illegal possession of explosives, murder, plotting a terrorist attack and harboring fugitives.

The men are suspected members of the Southeast Asian terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah, which is accused of carrying out several suicide bombings against Western targets in Indonesia since 2002, including bombings on the resort island of Bali, their indictment said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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