China sparks war of words
Minister of Defence A.K. Antony said yesterday that China’s comments on his visit to a territory disputed by the neighbors were “highly objectionable,” sparking a new war of words over the contested border. Beijing on Saturday reportedly called for India “to work with China to maintain peace and stability in border areas” and called for restraint to prevent complications in the dispute over Arunachal Pradesh, a northeastern Indian state that China claims in full. Antony visited the far-flung and highly militarized territory earlier this month to mark its 25th year as an Indian state. He promised better infrastructure and improved accessibility. “I was surprised to read the Chinese reaction. It is very sad and highly objectionable. Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India,” he told reporters on Monday, according to the CNN-IBN television channel.
Conductor to visit North
A prominent South Korean conductor will visit Pyongyang this week to prepare for a planned joint concert in Paris by orchestras from North Korea and France, an official said yesterday. Chung Myung-whun will visit from today to Thursday to make arrangements for the concert between the North’s Unhasu Orchestra and the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra, Seoul’s unification ministry spokesman said. The ministry must authorize all inter-Korean exchanges. Chung, who conducts the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and also serves as the music director for the French orchestra, is set to lead the joint performance in Paris on March 14 as part of a cultural exchange program. The 59-year-old conductor and UNICEF “goodwill ambassador” has for years been seeking cross-border cultural projects.
Xena arrested over protest
Police have arrested actress Lucy Lawless and five Greenpeace environmental activists after the group spent four days protesting aboard a docked oil-drilling ship. Police yesterday removed the group from their perch atop a 53m drilling tower on the Noble Discoverer in Port Taranaki. Lawless and six activists climbed the tower early on Friday in an attempt to raise awareness about oil drilling in the Arctic. Chartered by oil company Shell, the ship had been scheduled to leave over the weekend for the Arctic to drill five exploratory wells. Lawless, 43, a native New Zealander, is best known for her title role in the TV series Xena: Warrior Princess.
Three Iranians questioned
Police yesterday said they were questioning three more Iranians in connection with an alleged plot to kill Israeli diplomats in Bangkok. “We have information that they may have links to the blasts,” police major general Piya Utayo said, referring to a series of botched explosions that shook a residential district of the Thai capital on Feb. 14. He said no charges had been laid against the trio. One was detained under immigration law for overstaying his visa. According to Thai media, mobile telephone call logs showed that one of the suspects had been in regular contact with two Iranians now in custody.
Bin Laden house demolished
Bulldozers yesterday finished demolishing the house where Osama bin Laden lived for at least five years until he was killed by US special forces in May last year. Only the wall of the compound remained intact, surrounding the debris of the three-floor building where the al-Qaeda leader lived in the garrison town of Abbottabad and a security official confirmed the demolition had been completed.