Defense heads hold talks
The defense minister of Vietnam visited the Pentagon and US Department of State on Monday for the first time since the Vietnam war ended in 1975. US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld greeted his Vietnamese counterpart, Pham Van Tra, on the Pentagon steps, and the two had a working lunch. They discussed "ways to promote security cooperation between the two countries and to build on successes in de-mining, disaster relief, search and rescue and medical assistance," according to a Pentagon statement.
Rumsfeld to travel east
US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said on Monday he will depart this week on a trip to Japan and South Korea for security talks with those key allies, including possible changes in the US military presence in the region. He declined to predict whether any of the 37,000 US troops in South Korea will be withdrawn or to say how the presence of the 50,000 now in Japan might be changed, including whether Marines would be removed from Okinawa. Rumsfeld stressed Washington's commitment to long-standing alliances with Tokyo and Seoul.
Minister probed over Hanson
A senior federal government minister will be investigated for his role in the discredited corruption prosecution of former anti-immigration lawmaker Pauline Hanson, a state political leader said yesterday. But as Queensland state's parliament prepared to vote today to launch a probe into the events that led to Hanson's jailing, the former politician made headlines for reportedly befriending a child killer during her stint behind bars. Both Hanson and David Ettridge, co-founder of the One Nation party, were freed last week after serving 11 weeks of a three-year prison sentence for electoral fraud after an appeals court overturned their convictions. Hanson was reprimanded yesterday for reportedly sending words of support to her friends in jail, including Valmae Beck, who was jailed for life in 1998 for the murder of a 12-year-old schoolgirl.
■ Hong Kong
Croc hunter on the way
Australian crocodile hunter John Lever will fly to Hong Kong to try to catch a slippery reptile that has given officers the slip for nine days, an official said yesterday. Repeated efforts to trap or tranquilize the 1.2m-long crocodile in the swampland on the Hong Kong-China border have failed. The crocodile is believed to be an escaped pet or from a crocodile farm in China that swam over the border. "I have seen what happens when inexperienced people try to catch a crocodile and I am very concerned that either the animal or someone who tries to catch it may get hurt," Lever told the South China Morning Post newspaper.
■ Hong Kong
No sex please, we're police
Undercover policemen are allowed to accept sexual services from prostitutes but not have full intercourse, a news report said yesterday. A police official quoted by the South China Morning Post said officers could receive masturbation services from prostitutes before arresting them in brothels. Chief Superintendent Tang How-kong insisted however: "It is not enjoyable [for them]. I'm sure if you ask my colleagues they won't use this term. It is actually repulsive." Tang's comments came after a prostitutes' trade union said it had received 76 complaints of police harassment from its members between March and last month.