Wed, Jul 21, 2004 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Thailand

Rift over separatists

Thailand's foreign ministry said yesterday it doesn't support secret peace talks reportedly held between the defense ministry and Muslim separatists in the south, exposing an apparent rift in the government. Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathia-rathai told reporters the government has "no policy to talk with any insurgent because we do not recognize any insurgent group ... If security agencies have conducted secret talks ... it is their way of resolving the problem. But the Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not recognize or acknowledge such a contact because that's not the government policy,'' he said.

■ China

Flood preparations ordered

Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) has ordered flood prevention officials to prepare for more flooding after weeks of heavy rain killed at least 296 people and affected millions, state media said yesterday. Widespread flooding has forced more than 412,000 people to flee their homes, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said on its Web site. Floods have swept across the northwestern part of Hunan Province since last Saturday, affecting 2.68 million people and killing two people in Huaihua, Xinhua said. Hu urged flood prevention authorities, local govern-ments and the armed forces to brace for more flooding.

■ Pakistan

Peace efforts vowed

Pakistan's prime minister vowed to pursue peace with India at the opening of a meeting of regional foreign ministers yesterday, lending a hopeful start to a conference that inevitably will be domi-nated by efforts by the group's two largest members to end a half-century of hatred. "I want to assure all members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation [SAARC] and indeed the world that Pakistan is committed to pursuing peace with India,'' said Prime Minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. SAARC is a group of seven nations including Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.

■ India

Bhopal payments ordered

India's supreme court has ordered the government to distribute money held in the bank to more than 500,000 victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy who have been waiting 20 years for compensation. Legal wrangles have left destitute most of those who suffered injury in the world's worst industrial accident, but yesterday the court ruled that money held in the Bank of India since 1989, currently worth US$324 million, must be paid out. In December 1984, tonnes of a toxic gas leaked from a pesticide plant owned by Union Carbide in the central city of Bhopal, killing 3,800 people almost immediately.

■ Australia

Teenagers filmed burning

Four teenagers accused of burning to death a homeless man filmed themselves while they allegedly committed the crime, Melbourne Children's Court heard yesterday. The boys, two aged 16 and one aged 15, are accused of killing 66-year-old Arthur Burrows last November by torching his makeshift shelter with him inside in the town of Mildura in Victoria state. The hearing will deter-mine whether there is enough evidence against the three boys, who can't be identified because they are juveniles, for them to be tried for murder by a Victoria state Supreme Court jury. A fourth suspect in the case, aged 18, has already been committed to stand trial for murder in the Supreme Court.

■ United Kingdom

Soft stuff, no snuff

A man survived a 30m fall off a cliff on Britain's southern coast on Sunday after landing on a patch of sand, police said. The man had stopped to inspect damage after his car hit a road barrier and apparently slipped, police in the southern county of East Sussex said. "He's

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