Fri, Oct 10, 2003 - Page 6 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Australia

Sheep on ship go home

Fifty thousand Australian sheep stranded at sea will be brought home rather than slaughtered if a buyer can't be found, Prime Minister John Howard said yesterday. Shooting the sheep on board the ship was impractical, he said. "The current intention of the government, I can tell you, is clearly to bring them home," Howard told radio station 2GB. "I can't see the circumstances in which they could be slaughtered at sea." The MV Cormo Express has been the focus of international attention for weeks as it tours the Persian Gulf seeking a country willing to take its cargo of sheep.

■ Vietnam

Agreement signed with US

Vietnam and the US yesterday initialled an air-services agreement that would allow direct passenger and cargo flights, tapping a surge in trade and travel between the former war foes. Neither side provided a time frame for ratifying the agreement, but it was expected this could take place within a few months. Several US carriers said they thought the first direct flights from America might begin next March. Vietnam Airlines said it was unsure when its jets would land in the US. Prior to the pact, it had planned to do so in 2006. Now, "we hope we can cut short the time," said Pham Ngoc Minh, executive vice president in charge of commercial affairs.

■ China

Belgium rejects rights case

Belgium has thrown out a human rights abuse lawsuit against China's former president Jiang Zemin (江澤民) under the country's revamped genocide law, one of the plantiffs in the case said on Wednesday. Six members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, labelled an "evil cult" by the Chinese authorities, took the case to a Belgian court, alleging Jiang had put together a plan aimed at eliminating the group in China. Matthias Slaats, one of the six plantiffs, said he had been informed of the decision by the Belgian federal prosecutor to reject the case a few days ago. He added the group might appeal. "We are still checking the possibility," he said.

■ Myanmar

US critical of ASEAN stance

The US sharply disagreed on Wednesday with an ASEAN statement welcoming "positive developments" in Myanmar and a promise of democracy from its military rulers. "They noted, quote unquote, `positive developments.' We don't see those," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. "And we don't see any need for a road map unless it has full participation of the opposition, and that's the way forward to us," the spokesman added. The ASEAN statement, released in Bali on Tuesday, welcomed a "road map" presented by Myanmar Prime Minister Khin Nyunt but made no mention of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been in detention at her home since May.

■ China

Coal power banned in cities

China has banned coal-fire power plants in Beijing and other major cities -- a long-awaited move expected to reduce chronic air pollution and acid rain. The plants have been banned in Beijing, Shanghai and 21 provincial capitals, the China Daily said. The cities are responsible for some 60 percent of China's sulphur dioxide emissions. In other big and medium-sized cities, thermo-electric projects approved under national energy polices must meet environmental protection standards.

■United States

Priest arrested

A man arrested on charges that he made harassing telephone calls to a Catholic high school in Brooklyn turned out to be a Roman Catholic priest whose Queens apartment contained guns, pornographic magazines, Nazi memorabilia and thousands of dollars he said he stole from a church, law enforcement officials said on Wednesday. Reverend John Johnston, 64, of 35th Avenue in Jackson Heights, was charged with aggravated harassment and criminal possession of a weapon. Officials said they found a Nazi dress cap, swastikas and several World War II-era photographs of Nazi officers in the apartment. "It looked like Hitler's tomb," one investigator said.

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