World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

Tue, Sep 29, 2009 - Page 7

■NORTH KOREA

N Korea says Wen to visit

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) will pay an “official goodwill” visit North Korea from Sunday to next Tuesday, the state-run Korean Central News Agency said in a brief dispatch yesterday. The dispatch didn’t provide details, but Wen’s trip comes after the North has taken a series of conciliatory gestures toward South Korea and the US after months of tension on its nuclear and missile programs. Earlier yesterday, Yonhap news agency reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il could announce some concrete denuclearization measures during Wen’s visit.

■SINGAPORE

Superjumbo turned back

A Singapore Airlines plane carrying 444 passengers from Paris to Singapore was forced to return to the French capital on Sunday afternoon because of engine problems, the carrier said yesterday. The problem on the Airbus A380 jet was detected around two-and-a-half hours into flight out of Paris, it said. “An engine message was reported in the cockpit and following checklist procedures, the affected engine was shut down,” an airline spokesman said. “While the aircraft is able to operate with three engines, the pilots decided to return to Paris as a precaution due to the long flight.”

■NEW ZEALAND

Hillary tops ‘live’ poll

Everest conqueror Sir Edmund Hillary topped a recent poll to find the “greatest living New Zealander,” despite dying last year, it was reported yesterday. He was named by 15 percent of respondents to the Research New Zealand poll, even though he died in January last year. “It showed how beloved Sir Edmund was,” Research New Zealand director Emanuel Kalafatelis said. “To find a new hero to match his legendary status is tough.”

■HONG KONG

Tsang hospitalized

Financial Secretary John Tsang (曾俊華) is in hospital after having a heart attack but is expected to make a full recovery, the government said yesterday. Tsang had just returned on Sunday from the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, which he had attended as part of the Chinese delegation. Tsang had an operation involving balloon angioplasty which “went very smoothly” the statement said.

■NORTH KOREA

Crackdown on foreign films

The government has tightened its crackdown on foreign films after an elite college student was arrested for downloading and watching a bootleg file of a South Korean blockbuster, a defector group in South Korea said yesterday. The student in Pyongyang was caught on Sept. 5 while watching a digital copy of Haeundae with his dorm friends, the North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity said in a newsletter posted on its Web site. The student allegedly acquired a file of the film at a relative’s house in Chongjin and downloaded it onto his college computer, it said. The case prompted authorities to launch an extensive probe aimed at preventing the spread of the movie, the group said, quoting a “correspondent” in the North. The inspection revealed that tens of thousands of North Koreans have secretly seen foreign films, it said. The digital copy of Haeundae, a disaster flick which drew more than 10 million viewers in South Korea, was first leaked by an audio technician in Seoul.

■COLOMBIA

FARC urges prisoner swap

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) said on Sunday they will free two hostages in a unilateral gesture that could set the stage for a comprehensive exchange of prisoners held by both sides in the country’s 45-year-old guerrilla war. Soldiers Pablo Moncayo and Josue Calvo are locked up in secret jungle camps. They and 22 other kidnapped members of the security forces are being used as leverage by the Marxist rebels, who want to negotiate the freedom of hundreds of their fighters held in jails. “With this gesture of a unilateral release we reaffirm our willingness to advance in an exchange of all prisoners of war, whether they be held by the guerrillas or the state,” FARC said in a statement. Moncayo, grabbed in 1997, has become a symbol of the suffering of kidnap victims since his father Gustavo Moncayo began a campaign for his freedom, wrapping himself in chains and walking throughout the country. Calvo was kidnapped earlier this year.

■COLOMBIA

Top cartel member nabbed

Police struck a blow against the country’s top drug cartel by capturing a trafficker accused of smuggling about 100 tonnes of cocaine to the US, officials said on Sunday. Juan Rivera was arrested in Cali after a six-month manhunt. He is wanted for extradition by US courts in Florida and was second in command of the Norte del Valle cartel.

■UNITED STATES

Guardsman hosts gun social

A candidate to be South Carolina’s next National Guard leader skipped the fiery speeches for firepower, launching his campaign with what he called a “machine-gun social.” The Greenville News reports some 500 people came out to a shooting range on Saturday for Republican Dean Allen’s political rally. Attendees paid US$25 for barbecue, a clip of bullets for target practice and the chance to win a semiautomatic AK-47. South Carolina is the only state that elects its adjutant general.