Mon, Feb 21, 2005 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ China

Some construction OK'd

China has approved the resumption of 26 out of the 30 large construction projects that were suspended a month ago for failing to get environmental approval before they started. The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) said the 26 projects have passed environmental impact assessments, but four projects remain suspended until impact reports have been approved. The four projects are the five-billion-dollar Xiluodu hydropower plant on the Yangtze River, two power plants at the Three Gorges project and another power plant in Inner Mongolia. SEPA ordered a halt to 30 large-scale construction projects nationwide on Jan. 18 for failing to file environmental impact statements.

■ South Korea

North warns the South

North Korea yesterday accused South Korean ships of violating its territorial waters and raising tensions on the divided peninsula. The communist North has repeatedly issued warnings over the disputed sea border, drawn by the UN at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. South Korean officials dismissed the North's allegations, calling them propaganda. No peace treaty was signed at the end of the conflict, leaving the two Koreas still technically at war.

■ India

Snow traps travelers

Some 4,000 travelers were trapped Saturday along a stretch of mountainous highway in Kashmir, as heavy snowfall blocked roads, breaking power lines and halting phone services across much of the Himalayan region. "A state of high alert has been declared," Jammu-Kashmir's Finance Minister Muzaffar Baig said the government feared shortages of basic supplies such as fuel and food because the blocked highway is the only route to bring goods into the valley. Ten highway workers trying to clear a road were hit by an avalanche of snow, but six were rescued so far. Travelers trapped on a road south of the city of Srinagar have taken shelter in villages and government offices.

■ Australia

Prince Charles plans visit

Australian taxpayers shouldn't be expected to foot the bill when Britain's Prince Charles visits next month, the opposition Labor Party's John Faulkner said. "Most people wouldn't invite themselves over for dinner and then expect their host to pay for the cab fare," Faulkner said. "Prince Charles has invited himself to Australia for a visit, and Australian taxpayers will pick up the bill," he said. The Queen is Australia's head of state, a position Charles would occupy were he to accede to the throne. Prime Minister John Howard said it was normal for the host country to meet the cost of an official visit. "We regard this sort of thing as an ill-mannered cheap shot," he said.

■ Hong Kong

Containers pirated

Thieves have stolen seven fully-laden shipping containers from a Hong Kong barge. The 6-meter containers were lifted off the vessel on Saturday night while it was moored in the city's terminal. Five men boarded the barge from their own vessel and overpowered the lone man keeping watch, aged 53, who was tied, gagged and hidden in a cabin while the robbers unloaded the containers. He was freed uninjured an hour later. Police said the containers held consignments of lighting accessories. Hong Kong's port is the busiest in the world. Insurance experts say containers are stolen for their scrap value.

■ Israel

Cabinet to vote on Gaza

Israel's Cabinet met yesterday in a pivotal session expected to give the go-ahead to evacuate Jewish settlers from occupied Gaza and for the first time remove settlements from land where Palestinians want a state. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to evacuate settlers starting in July has been called a possible step towards peace by both Israelis and Palestinians, buoyed by optimism after a Feb. 8 truce agreement.

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