- The Washington Times - Friday, May 1, 2009


Access granted to U.N.’s WHO

TAIPEI | Taiwan said it had persuaded China to allow it to participate in a key U.N. body, offering a victory for President Ma Ying-jeou’s campaign to win greater international recognition for the democratic island.

China, which for almost six decades has struggled against Taiwanese participation in international bodies, confirmed Wednesday that Taiwan will attend this month’s meeting in Geneva of the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making authority for the World Health Organization.

The United States welcomed the announcement.

“We have long supported Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the WHO, including observer status at the WHA,” State Department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters in Washington.


Offensive against Tigers to continue

COLOMBO | Sri Lanka said Thursday that it would push ahead with its offensive against the Tamil Tigers, brushing off international calls for a cease-fire aimed at protecting an estimated 50,000 civilians trapped in the war zone.

The rebels, facing near-certain defeat, vowed to fight on.

The defiant statements left little hope of averting a violent finale to the civil war that has plagued this Indian Ocean island nation for more than a quarter-century.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa said his government was trying to rescue the trapped civilians, and appeared impatient at the continued truce appeals.

“It is my duty to protect the people of this country. I don’t need lectures from Western representatives,” he said.


PETA protesters upset authorities

MANILA | The Philippine immigration chief warned foreign activists Thursday that they can be deported for taking part in protests after a demonstration by bikini-clad members of the animal rights group PETA.

Protesters from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) went to the Manila Zoo on Tuesday and posed for photographers while wearing heart-shaped signs that read “Have a Heart, Boycott the Zoo” over their bathing suits.

Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan said the activists - from Canada, Australia and Argentina - violated the conditions of their tourist visas and would be deported if they did not stop.


N. Korea border open to tourists

BEIJING | China has reopened its land border to tourists traveling to North Korea after a three-year break, with a group of 71 tourists visiting the isolated country, state media reported Thursday.

The Chinese tourists left the city of Dandong this week for a one-day tour of Sinuiju, on the other side of the Yalu River that marks the frontier, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

It was the first tour group to cross the border since February 2006, when crossings were suspended after rampant gambling by Chinese tourists, the report said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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