- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 28, 2009


TOKYO | Japanese newspapers and activists are calling for President Obama to become the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima or Nagasaki, the only two cities ever devastated by atomic bombs, ahead of his visit to Japan next month.

The two cities’ mayors formally invited Mr. Obama on Tuesday to visit sometime before May, but U.S. officials say it is highly unlikely he will travel to either city during his Nov. 12-13 visit to Tokyo. An April speech Mr. Obama gave in Prague calling for a world free of nuclear weapons raised expectations, and winning the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this month heightened them further.

The U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, killing an estimated 140,000 people, and a second one on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, killing 80,000.

Six days later, Japan surrendered, ending World War II.


Chinese general meets with Gates

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates called for deeper military ties with Beijing on Tuesday, telling a top Chinese general it was time to end a pattern of “on-again, off-again” relations.

In a meeting with Gen. Xu Caihou, China’s second-ranking officer, Mr. Gates stressed the need to preserve a lasting dialogue between the U.S. and Chinese militaries, regardless of disputes or policy differences, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said.

In the past, progress has been followed by “a hiccup that will cause there to be a suspension in mil-to-mil relations,” noted Mr. Morrell.


Ex-minister gets year in Angola arms trial

PARIS | A Paris court sentenced a former interior minister to a year in prison Tuesday and fined the son of the late President Francois Mitterrand for links to arms trafficking to Angola in a case that involved corruption at the highest levels.

The trial of 42 defendants began last October, after seven years of investigations into a sensitive, far-reaching case the French dubbed “Angola-gate.”

The toughest sentences were meted out to the two men accused of masterminding the trafficking of Soviet-made weapons to Angola during a civil war in the 1990s: Israeli billionaire Arkady Gaydamak and French businessman Pierre Falcone. Both were sentenced to six years in prison.

Charles Pasqua, an influential fixture in French conservative circles for years and a former interior minister, was sentenced to three years in prison, two of them suspended. He was fined $148,000. The court gave Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, a one-time African affairs adviser to his father when he was president, a two-year suspended sentence and fined him $558,000 for receiving large commissions linked to the arms deals.


North claims man defected

SEOUL | A South Korean man defected to communist North Korea by crossing the heavily fortified frontier, Pyongyang’s state media reported Tuesday, but it didn’t say how he navigated a no-man’s land where guards can shoot to kill.

The case appeared to be a rare instance of a South Korean defecting to the impoverished North, though thousands have defected from North Korea to the South in recent years.

South Korea’s military said it had found a fence cut open along the southeastern part of the demilitarized zone. It said the man identified by the North was a former soldier who had served in the area and who is now wanted on assault charges.

Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency said the man, identified as Kang Tong-rim, 30, crossed into North Korea on Monday.


Court upholds bribery conviction

MILAN | An Italian appeals court on Tuesday upheld the conviction of British lawyer David Mills, who was found to have accepted a bribe to lie in court to protect Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

A lower court found Mills guilty of corruption in May and sentenced him to 4 1/2 years. The judges ruled that Mills received $600,000 to give false testimony in two 1990s trials to shield Mr. Berlusconi and his Fininvest holding company from charges relating to the purchase of U.S. film rights.

The decision is a potential embarrassment for Mr. Berlusconi, whose trial in the same corruption case is expected to restart soon in the wake of a constitutional court ruling that a law granting him immunity as prime minister is unconstitutional.

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