Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas was to take the place of his mentor President Yasser Arafat as the Palestinian guest in the White House yesterday, initiating a new phase in Palestinian relations with the US. \nArafat, who has been cooped up for months in the West Bank town of Ramallah, has not been to Washington since US President George W. Bush took office in January 2001. Bush declared him persona non grata last year and has now pinned his plans for Middle East peace on Abbas, better known as Abu Mazen. \nIt is Abu Mazen's first visit to the US since taking office in April and starting to carry out the peace plan known as the "road map," which foresees an independent Palestinian state by 2005 living in peace with Israel. \nThe plan has run into disputes over which side should do what next. Abu Mazen wants Israel to release thousands of Palestinian prisoners, while Israel wants Abu Mazen to close down Palestinian militant groups. \nAbu Mazen was expected to present Bush with a long list of Palestinian requests yesterday, including pressure on Israel to stop work on a security fence in the West Bank and freeze construction at Jewish settlements. \nIsraeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will give his point of view when he sees Bush in Washington next Tuesday. \nAbu Mazen told the Council on Foreign Relations on Thursday evening that Israel's approach to the peace plan had shown a "pattern of hesitant implementation" from the start. \n"Without bold steps we will not succeed," he added. \nHe argued that militant groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad understood his commitment to ensure that the Palestinian government is the only armed force in Palestinian areas. \nBut he is reluctant to meet Israeli and US demands that he disarm the militants so they never attack Israelis again. \nHe warned the Israelis of unspecified consequences if they do not satisfy the basic Palestinian demand that they end the occupation which began in Gaza and the West Bank in 1967. \n"The burden really is on the shoulders of the Israelis ... and there are certain things that we expect them to do regarding the release of the prisoners, regarding the freezing of settlement activity, as well as the withdrawal. \n"If Israel is not going to do this, then it is basically reaffirming and reinforcing the occupation, and we all know if occupation is to continue what can happen," he said. \nThe US sympathizes with Abu Mazen on Jewish settlements and the security fence, which the Palestinian leader brought up several times in his talks. \n"There's not a lot of enthusiasm in this town for a fence ... This is a real issue, or it has the makings of becoming a real issue [between Israel and the United States], were the fence to follow the route that many people say it will," said a senior US official, who asked not to be named. \nSo far the US has concentrated on persuading Israel to dismantle small settler outposts in the West Bank but another official said this could change. \n"We are also getting to the point of taking up the issue of settlements per se and growth," the official said. \nIsrael has argued that settlements should be allowed to expand to take account of demographic growth but the text of the road map says all settlement activity should cease.
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy
Japan’s government yesterday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following Sunday’s death of the popular actress and Miss Sherlock star Yuko Takeuchi, 40. News of her death shocked the nation and follows other recent cases of Japanese celebrities taking their lives, with figures showing a recent rise in suicides. Takeuchi was a household name in Japan and had given birth to her second child in January. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato did not mention a particular case, but said that some people were struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There has been an uptick in the number
China on Thursday lashed out at the US at a high-level UN meeting over its criticism on the COVID-19 pandemic, with its envoy declaring, “Enough is enough.” Two days after US President Donald Trump used his annual address to the General Assembly to attack China’s record, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, also took an outraged tone — after which her Chinese counterpart showed palpable anger. “I must say, enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun (張軍) told a Security Council meeting on global governance attended through videoconference