The US and South Korea marked the 50th anniversary of their military alliance yesterday, praising their joint deterrence of the North but unsure whether Seoul will send troops to Iraq as Washington has sought. \nThe US -- which has 37,000 troops in the South to help ward off a communist attack -- has asked South Korea for combat troops to help stabilize post-war Iraq. A South Korean newspaper has quoted a US official as saying Washington would like 5,000 troops and a decision by mid-October. \nArtillery salutes reverberated around Seoul from the main US base at Yongsan in the heart of the capital and soldiers of both armed forces marched past dignitaries and 200 US and South Korean veterans of the 1950-53 Korean War. \n"The mutual defense treaty and the strength of our partnership have successfully deterred North Korea and guaranteed the stability necessary for [South] Korea to rebuild," US Ambassador Thomas Hubbard said in a speech at the ceremony to mark the Oct. 1, 1953, signing of the military pact. \n"Today, [South] Koreans are rightly proud of what they have built. They look at their economic and military strength and draw the inevitable conclusion that the South has effectively won the race on the peninsula," he said. \nSouth Korean Defense Minster Cho Young-kil also praised the alliance's deterrent role but, like Hubbard, noted that it needed to be adapted to new challenges and technological advances. \n"We cannot be satisfied with the current alliance. We have an important task ahead of us," said Cho. \nHubbard noted that Seoul had peacekeepers deployed in East Timor and non-combat troops in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of the country's growing role in world affairs. \nAsked later whether Seoul could say "no" to the latest US troop request given their alliance, Hubbard told reporters: "South Korea is one of those nations that has a strong military capability and has a very large army, so we think it is appropriate that South Korea considers how it might help." \n"Obviously any decision on this is one that only the South Korean government and people can make," he said. \nSouth Korean President Roh Moo-hyun told senior US military officers at dinner on Monday that his country could repay the US for its help over the past half-century by contributing to global peace. But he did not commit himself on the Iraq request. \nRoh is caught between turning down his main ally and alienating the public before an April parliamentary election. \nThe government has said it is studying Washington's request. \nFinance Minister Kim Jin-pyo said on Monday that the deployment of additional South Korean troops to Iraq would aid South Korea's economy by reassuring investors who are worried about any discord between the two over dealing with North Korea's nuclear ambitions. \nUN forces led by the US battled Chinese-backed North Korea in the Korean War, which ended in a truce that has since kept the two in a technical state of war. \nNorth Korea used the anniversary of the treaty as an occasion to renew its call for a non-aggression pact with Washington. \nHubbard said that despite changes in the South, the threat from the North was undiminished and the alliance was crucial. \n"Even as we pursue multilateral diplomacy to resolve the North Korea nuclear problem ... our two countries must continue to maintain our strong combined deterrent," he said.
Henry Tong (湯偉雄) and Elaine To (杜依蘭) were preparing to spend their first wedding anniversary in separate prison cells until their acquittal for rioting during Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. There were gasps and tears of relief in court on Friday last week as a judge declared prosecutors had failed to prove that the couple took part in clashes with police in July last year. The pair walked free in a ruling that has potential consequences for hundreds of other protesters facing similar charges. However, they have a long journey ahead as they try to rebuild their lives and business. “We have already been punished,”
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable
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