The US has agreed to slow a proposed drawdown of its military presence in South Korea, stretching it out until at least 2008 in response to what it called "the Korean publics perceptions regarding a potential security gap," the Department of Defense announced early yesterday. \nA final accord spelling out conditions for the withdrawal of 12,500 US troops provides for three pullout phases, the last of which will be completed in 2008. \n"Inclusive in this redeployment is the 2nd Brigade Combat Team that was sent to Iraq in August," the department said in a statement. \nThis unit will be at the center of the first phase of the redeployment that will involve a total of about 5,000 troops, including some of the brigade's supporting units, that will leave South Korea before the end of this year, according to the plan. \nDMZ DEPLOYMENTS \nAnother 5,000-strong contingent comprising combat and support units will be removed sometime next year and 2006. \nIn the third and final phase that will fall on 2007 and 2008, the US will redeploy from South Korea 2,500 military personnel consisting primarily of auxiliary services, defense officials pointed out. \nBut the US military will keep its a multiple launch rocket system battalion "and associated counter-fire assets" deployed in the proximity of the demilitarized zone and designed to counter hundreds of North Korea artillery pieces on the other side of the border threatening the South Korean capital, Seoul. \nThe US has also agreed to review stockpiles of its military equipment pre-positioned on the peninsula that will enable the two countries to bolster their capabilities in case of a conflict "and make adjustments as appropriate," the officials said. \nAt the same time, it will continue to implement an US$11 billion investment program aimed at enhancing US strategic capabilities on the peninsula and in the region. \n"Throughout these consultations, the United States has made clear that it remains committed to the defense of the Republic of Korea, to the security and stability of the region and to a strengthened Republic of Korea-US alliance," the Pentagon statement said. \nSTRONG FUTURE \nIt noted that the future of the alliance was "strong" and will be "adaptive to change and responsive to the needs of the Korean people." \nThe US plan to pare down a 37,000-strong force that has been stationed in South Korea for decades was initially announced in June, sparked concern on both sides of the Pacific. \nIn related news, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog said yesterday he expected an early settlement of the controversy over South Korea's nuclear experiments, praising Seoul for cooperating fully with the probe. \nMohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, also said the agency would dispatch one or two more teams this month to look into South Korea's past record of clandestine nuclear tests. \n"We have not seen any cover-up," ElBaradei told a news conference. \n"We are getting good cooperation from the South Korean government." \nNorth Korea, citing concern about Seoul's nuclear experiments among other issues, has put on hold multilateral talks aimed at defusing tensions over its own atomic weapons drive.
‘LIKE A CASSANDRA’: Chinese residents of Prato went into self-imposed lockdown and warned their Italian neighbors about what was coming, but were ignored In the storm of infection and death sweeping Italy, one big community stands out to health officials as remarkably unscathed — the 50,000 ethnic Chinese who live in the town of Prato. Two months ago, the country’s Chinese residents were the target of what Amnesty International described as shameful discrimination, the butt of insults and violent attacks by people who feared that they would spread the coronavirus through Italy. However, in the Tuscan town of Prato, home to Italy’s single biggest Chinese community, the opposite has been true. Once scapegoats, they are now held up by authorities as a model for early,
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,