US Secretary of State Colin Powell is due to open a day of Afghan reconstruction talks today attended by representatives of some of the world's richest nations and institutions. \nPowell will open meetings co-chaired with Japan at the State Department which will pave the way for an international conference in Pakistan from Nov. 27 to 29 hosted by the World Bank and intended to help rebuild a country devastated by decades of war, years of famine and weeks of a US-led bombing campaign. \nThe aim is to underpin a political framework being hastily constructed for Afghanistan with billions of dollars. \nAt least 14 governments, international organizations and banks will attend the Washington talks, with Japan represented at deputy foreign minister level and the US team led by Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Alan Larson and Under Secretary of State of Treasury John Taylor. \nChristina Rocca, assistant secretary of state for South Asia affairs, said last week the one-day conference would concentrate on possible projects in agriculture, water, sewerage, mine clearing, health and education. \nShe said she hoped the event would help serve as an incentive for Afghans to participate in a broad-based government. \nThe international community, taken by surprise by the rapid collapse of Taliban power, is scrambling to patch together a coalition of Afghans to run the country. \n"This is just a first step in a process that we foresee will expand to include all members of the international community committed to a prosperous future for Afghanistan," State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said last week. \nInvitations have gone to Canada, Germany, Russia, Britain, Italy, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the Afghan support group chaired by Germany, the EU presidency in Belgium, the European Commission and the Organization of the Islamic Conference chair in Qatar, Reeker said. \nRepresentatives from the World Bank, the UN, the Asian Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank have also been asked to attend the talks which Reeker said were not a pledging conference. \nThe US meeting had originally been planned for the UN, according to reports by diplomats and UN officials. No explanation was offered for why the venue was changed.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator
PENGHU INSPECTION: Taiwan cannot let its enemies strut around in its airspace, Tsai said, one day after a Chinese spokesman denied a median line exists in the Taiwan Strait Following China’s assertion on Monday that there is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend the nation’s airspace during a visit to an air force base in Penghu, saying that Taiwan cannot allow others to flex their military muscle in its territorial airspace. Tsai praised the “heroic performance” of the pilots of the Indigenous Defense Fighters who have been intercepting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes in recent days. “I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China [ROC], how could we let enemies strut
Swedish Member of Parliament Hampus Hagman is pushing for changing the name of the nation’s trade office in Taipei to signal improved relations with “Asia’s perhaps foremost democracy.” Hagman on Wednesday last week proposed renaming the Swedish Trade and Invest Council to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei,” following similar changes by other nations. The Swedish Trade and Invest Council, part of Business Sweden, is owned by the Swedish government and Swedish industry. Taiwan and Sweden share important values such as respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, Hagman said in the motion, adding that the two nations