North Korea signalled yesterday that it was ready for talks on its suspected atomic program after confusion over whether it tried to scupper negotiations by saying it was reprocessing fuel rods to make nuclear bombs. \nThe US said an English-language statement on Friday from the North Korean Foreign Ministry might have been mistranslated to say Pyongyang was reprocessing the 8,000 nuclear rods rather than on the verge of reprocessing them. \nReprocessing would be the most provocative step North Korea has taken since the dispute flared in October, when Washington said Pyongyang admitted to a covert nuclear program. \n"As far as I know, there is no change in the plans for the talks to take place in Beijing next week," said Lee Ji-hyun, South Korean presidential spokeswoman for foreign media. \nSouth Korea is not included in the planned three-way talks in Beijing between the US, China and the North but has a major stake in the outcome on the divided peninsula. \nNorth Korea's KCNA news agency said Jo Myong-rok, first vice chairman of the National Defense Commission headed by leader Kim Jong-il, would visit Beijing from April 21 to 23. \nIts one-sentence report did not say whether Jo, the military number two to Kim, would prepare for the three-way talks or explain the reprocessing. But the South's Yonhap news agency quoted Chinese sources as saying his trip was seen aimed at fine-tuning its talks stance with China. \nJo visited Washington in October 2000, the most senior Pyongyang official to do so. \nIn Washington, a Bush administration official said the US might cancel the talks, but South Korean media quoted others as saying they were likely to go ahead. \nYonhap said Japan and South Korea had urged US officials to go ahead with the talks, expected to start on April 23. \nIn a further sign Pyongyang wants to engage the outside world, albeit for different reasons, Seoul said the North had proposed holding bilateral ministerial talks on April 27 to 29. \nPyongyang cancelled previously scheduled cabinet-level talks with Seoul on economic and other matters after the South decided to send non-combat troops to help in the US-led war in Iraq. \n"The North sent us this morning a telegram, saying it wants ministerial talks in Pyongyang," the South Korean Unification Ministry said. KCNA said it proposed the talks to "settle the issue of inter-Korean relations through national cooperation". \nA ministry spokesman said the South would "positively consider accepting". An official reply was likely next week. \nThe North asked Seoul this week for rice and fertilizer. \nUS satellites can detect activity at the nuclear complex where the reprocessing plant is located, but it is not clear whether they can discern reprocessing and, if so, how quickly. \nThe South Korean Defense Ministry said a review of South Korean and US intelligence had found no sign the North Koreans had begun reprocessing. \nJapan, like South Korea, said it had no information to back up the North's original statement, which could fit into a past Pyongyang pattern of raising the stakes ahead of major talks. \nIn Seoul, more than 1,000 activists and army veterans burned an effigy of the late North Korean leader Kim Il-sung in a protest against the North's suspected nuclear arms program.
‘FREEDOM WINE’: Taiwanese are empathetic of Australians, the president said, while lawmakers called on their constituents to drink Australian wine to show their support Taiwan would take action to back Australians at a time when they are “under tremendous pressure,” President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday, as tensions between Australia and China heated up. Taipei and Canberra have been mutually supportive in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in exchanging critical medical materials in the early stages, Tsai said, before chairing the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Central Standing Committee meeting in Taipei. Taiwan and Australia are like-minded nations, sharing the common values of democracy, freedom and human rights, while their economic and trade relations have also become close, she said. Canberra has been voicing support for Taiwan’s international
VIGILANCE: From tomorrow all arrivals must provide the result of a PCR test issued within three days of boarding, and the CECC asked people to report anyone who has faked their result The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) expects an increase in the number of returning travelers in the coming days, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday, adding that the varying qualities of COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test reports from other countries is a big concern. Chen, who heads the center, was speaking to the media on the sidelines of a Taiwan Foundation for Rare Disorders scholarship award ceremony in Taipei. “As the global COVID-19 situation is worsening, and with some holidays coming up, there might be an increase in the number of overseas Taiwanese returning to Taiwan,” he
CECC RULES: The autumn-winter COVID-19 prevention program, including mandatory mask wearing in eight types of public venues and indoor facilities, begins today A temporary, two-week ban on Indonesian migrant workers entering the nation is to begin on Friday, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced yesterday as it reported 24 new imported cases of COVID-19. Twenty of the new cases are Indonesian migrant workers who arrived between Nov. 11 and Friday last week, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center. The cases were discovered during a special project on Friday to conduct polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests on all 939 recently arrived Indonesian migrant workers in centralized quarantine facilities, as the majority of imported cases in the past
Passports with a redesigned cover highlighting Taiwan would be issued starting on Jan. 11, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. The new cover design, which was announced on Sept. 2, highlights Taiwan by printing the word in a larger font. While the new passport cover retains “the Republic of China” in Chinese, the English name is printed along the outer circle of the national emblem, which would enable other nations to clearly identify that it is a Taiwanese passport, not a Chinese passport, the ministry said. The costs and application procedures for the new version are the same as