Friday, April 29, 2005

Blair Under Fire Over Iraq; Conservatives Unlikely to Benefit

British Prime Minister Tony Blair's election campaign has been dealt a blow by accusations of untrustworthiness relating to the Iraq war, but opinion polls suggest that Conservatives are not benefiting from Blair's difficulties. Read

Forget Veto Powers, Annan Tells UNSC Aspirants

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has advised countries hoping to get permanent seats on a revamped Security Council not to push to acquire the veto power enjoyed by the current five permanent members. Read

Zimbabwe Returned to UN Human Rights Body

To the dismay of Western governments, African nations have ensured that Zimbabwe gets another three-year term as a member of the U.N. Human Rights Commission. Read

Bush Defends Nuclear Talks, But 'All Options on the Table'

Defending his support for negotiations to resolve the standoff over North Korea's nuclear programs, President Bush reiterated Thursday that "all options, of course, are on the table." Read

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Americans Arrested, Accused of Giving Christian Pamphlets to Muslims

Two Americans have been arrested in Malaysia, accused of handing out Christian pamphlets to Muslims in a country where constitutionally protected religious freedom periodically collides with Islam's stance on apostasy. Read

Vaccine for Cancer-Causing Virus Could Spark Controversy

A newly developed vaccine for a virus linked to cervical cancer is likely to be widely welcomed as a crucial tool in the war against the killer disease - but also looks set to trigger a new ethical debate. Read

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Concerns Mount That France May Vote Against EU Charter

Alarmed by opinion polls showing growing opposition among French voters to the European Union constitution, European leaders are warning that failure of a referendum on the issue next month could seriously undermine the E.U. "project." Read

Taiwanese Divided Over Mainland Visit

A historic trip to China by the leader of Taiwan's opposition Nationalist party is being closely watched on the island, where public opinion is sharply divided over the wisdom of the visit and suspicions abound about Beijing's motives in inviting him. Read

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

US Envoy Seeks Support for 'Best Strategy' Against North Korea

Washington's point-man in diplomatic efforts to dismantle North Korea's nuclear programs is visiting the region to seek support for a firmer stance against the Stalinist regime. Read

Australia Sees Non-Aggression Pact As Stumbling Block

Australia wants to join a new grouping of Asian nations, but it is balking at a prerequisite that it first sign a non-aggression pact. Prime Minister John Howard's government worries such a move could impact Australia's alliance with Washington. Read

Monday, April 25, 2005

Witch's Complaint Renews Focus on Religious Hatred Law

A self-described witch serving a jail term for child-sex abuse has become the latest person to use Australia's controversial religious hatred law to complain that he is being vilified on the basis of religion. Read

Leaders of Japan, China Meet Amid Deep Differences

Japan said Monday that a meeting between Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Chinese President Hu Jintao was a step towards improving strained relations between the Asian neighbors, but there are indications from both sides that numerous issues remain unresolved. Read

Friday, April 22, 2005

Japanese PM Apologizes for Past Aggression

In an effort to end one of Asia's most serious diplomatic rows in decades, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Friday apologized publicly for his country's belligerent history. Read

Chemical Warfare Claim Focuses New Attention on Burma

A human rights group says Burma may have used chemical weapons against ethnic minority rebels, raising new concerns about a repressive regime due to take the chairmanship of a leading regional grouping next year. Read

Korean Catholics See Benefits in German-Born Pope

Roman Catholics in South Korea are hoping the fact that Pope Benedict XVI hails from Germany may give him special insight into and concern for the problems of North Korea. Read

Thursday, April 21, 2005

South Korea Opposes Security Council Referral for North Korea

South Korea's government is sending out mixed messages on whether North Korea should be referred to the U.N. Security Council for its nuclear weapons programs, amid continuing differences over where Seoul should stand in the dispute between its U.S. ally and its communist neighbor. Read

France Not Softening on Push to Lift China Arms Embargo

The French government is pressing on with its campaign to end the European Union arms embargo on China, despite opposition from the U.S., Japan, European lawmakers, and human rights campaigners. Read

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

China-Japan Row Could Overshadow Asia-Africa Meeting

A major conference of Asian and African leaders in Indonesia this week may be dominated by the continuing dispute between China and Japan, despite the lofty ideals of conference organizers. Read

Dump Taiwan and We Can Have Ties, China Tells New Pope

China on Wednesday urged newly-elected Pope Benedict XVI to break the Holy See's ties to Taiwan, recognize Beijing's claim to the island, and "not interfere in internal Chinese affairs." Read

Asian, African Catholics See New Pope Following in Predecessor's Footsteps

Catholics in Asia and Africa have welcomed German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's election as head of the Catholic Church, expressing confidence that Pope Benedict XVI will follow his much-loved predecessor's approach in regions where traditional values are strongly held. Read

US Hopes Asian Rifts Won’t Affect Bid to Denuke North Korea

The U.S. does not believe a rift between China and Japan will have a negative effect on attempts to resolve the North Korean nuclear standoff through a six-country dialogue process, Washington’s new envoy to Japan said Monday. Read

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Australia Seeks to Balance Relations With China, US

China and Australia have signed an agreement to begin negotiations on a free trade agreement - an important step for the Australian economy, but one that some analysts believe could in the future complicate Canberra's close alliance with the United States. Read

Monday, April 18, 2005

Japan Suggests Meeting with Chinese Leader to Improve Ties

Amid continuing anti-Japanese protests in China, Japan's government has proposed a series of steps designed to counteract the most serious crisis between East Asia's leading powers since they restored diplomatic ties 33 years ago. Read

Friday, April 15, 2005

Voting by UN Rights Commission Voting Reveals Divisions

A series of votes at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights meeting in Geneva this week illustrates how politicized and polarized the body is. Even Secretary-General Kofi Annan says the Human Rights Commission "suffers from declining credibility and professionalism," and he wants to shut it down. Read

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Textbook Controversy May Cost Japan Permanent UN Seat

China has told Japan to "face up to history" as the row over Japan's alleged whitewashing of World War II atrocities deepens. Read

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

China, India Seek ‘New Int’l Order

In a major breakthrough for Chinese diplomacy, Beijing has launched a "strategic partnership" with India, laying the groundwork for deepening cooperation between longstanding rivals, which together account for one-third of the world's population. Read

Monday, April 11, 2005

US Wants Observer Status at East Asian Summit

Foreign ministers from the 10 Association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN)are meeting in the Philippines where they are expected to discuss whether the U.S. and other countries outside the region should be invited to an inaugural gathering of East Asian countries later this year. Read

Friday, April 08, 2005

UN Reform Proposals Run Into Difficulties

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's hopes for member nations to accept a package of proposed reforms by September are running into hurdles at the General Assembly, with a number of member states seeking to slow down the process. Read

China Moving to Replace US Influence in Latin America

China's growing influence in Latin America forms part of a "grand strategy" to counter U.S. dominance and eventually replace America as the world's most powerful nation, U.S. lawmakers have been told. Read

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Muslims 'Betrayed' By UK Gov't Over Religious Hatred

British Muslims, already unhappy with the Labor government over the Iraq war, have accused it of betrayal for scrapping plans to outlaw incitement to religious hatred. Read

India, Pakistan Launch Historic Kashmir 'Peace Bus'

India and Pakistan on Thursday launched a passenger bus route linking the divided portions of disputed Kashmir for the first time in 57 years. The simple but significant gesture symbolizes slowly improving relations between the two rivals. Read

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Taiwan Plays Down Reports That It May Lose Ties With Vatican

Suggestions by a senior Catholic leader that the change of leadership at the Vatican may lead to a restoration of ties with China are being played down in Taiwan, where loss of the island's sole diplomatic foothold in Europe would come as a severe blow. Read

Blair Predicts 'Tough Fight' as UK Election Campaign Begins

British Prime Minister Tony Blair will seek a historic third-term when Britons go to the polls next month. The campaign is expected to be dominated by the economy as well as by questions about Blair's strong support for the war in Iraq. Read

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Indonesia, Australia Hail Historic Improvement in Relations

In a development that will be enhance U.S. interests in Asia, Washington's closest ally in the Asia-Pacific and the world's most populous Islamic state have agreed to a "comprehensive partnership" that will include cooperation in security and other areas. Read

History, Rivalry Cloud Japan's Hopes for UN Security Council Seat

Japan's U.S.-backed bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council faces growing opposition in East Asia because of lingering anger over Japan's wartime aggression as well as more recent disputes. Read

Monday, April 04, 2005

China's Underground Church Mourns a Pope Who Never Visited

Pope John Paul II traveled widely, even visiting communist bastions such as Cuba in 1998 and his native Poland in 1979. But although he wanted to, he never made it to China, which has one of the largest Catholic communities in Asia. Read