- The Washington Times - Friday, November 13, 2009

CHINA

Racial remarks precede Obama visit

BEIJING | On the eve of President Obama’s first visit to Asia, China floated a potentially provocative comparison, likening serfdom in Tibet to slavery in the U.S. - an apparent attempt to gain support for its policies in the Himalayan region.

Invoking Mr. Obama’s African heritage and Civil War president Abraham Lincoln, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Thursday that Mr. Obama should be more sympathetic to its contention it has brought development and prosperity to Tibet since 1959.

Asked about a possible meeting between Mr. Obama and the Dalai Lama, Mr. Qin said the U.S. president should recognize the exiled Tibetan leader - a Nobel Peace Prize winner - as the former head of a slave state.

Many Tibetans reject such arguments, saying Tibet was an independent state when Chinese communist troops entered in 1950. They also say that while Tibetan peasants were required to work on feudal estates, they enjoyed considerable freedoms and were not slaves.

NORWAY

Hostage journalist, interpreter freed

OSLO | A Norwegian freelance journalist kidnapped a week ago in eastern Afghanistan was released Thursday along with his Afghan interpreter, the Foreign Ministry said.

The two men were abducted near the border with Pakistan, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Ragnhild Imerslund said.

Both were released after “Norwegian authorities worked very hard and intensely” to secure their freedom, Ms. Imerslund said. She declined to name the men or their abductors.

The Norwegian news agency NTB identified the journalist as Paal Refsdal, a 46-year-old veteran war correspondent who reported from Kosovo during the Balkan conflict and from Afghanistan during the Soviet Union’s invasion in the 1980s.

SWITZERLAND

Drugs recommended at first sign of flu

GENEVA | Doctors should give antiviral drugs to pregnant women, young children and other at-risk groups as soon as they show clinical symptoms of swine flu to prevent them developing serious complications, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

The global body is concerned that some doctors are waiting for lab confirmation of the disease before prescribing antivirals such as Tamiflu to vulnerable groups, a senior WHO medical officer said.

“In order to prevent progression to severe disease, antivirals need to be administered early,” Dr. Nikki Shindo told reporters during a conference call.

The pandemic strain A(H1N1) can sometimes cause serious illness in young adults - a fact that still puzzles experts as that group is usually the most resistant to flu.

ITALY

U.N. agency seeks to end global hunger

ROME | A draft declaration for next week’s U.N. food summit would commit world leaders to a new hunger-fighting strategy by pledging to increase agricultural development aid to help the world’s 1 billion hungry people feed themselves.

However, the draft obtained Thursday by the Associated Press does not include a 2025 deadline for eradicating hunger, a goal sought by the United Nations.

Also missing are specific money commitments, such as the $44 billion in yearly agricultural aid that the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization says will be necessary in the coming decades.

Hunger now affects a record 1.02 billion people globally - or one in six - with the financial meltdown, high food prices, drought and war blamed for recent increases, the FAO says.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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