Korea: DPRK proposes solutions

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea proposed “a package of solutions” to the nuclear issue during six-party talks held late last month in Beijing. The Korean Central News Agency said these include the U.S. signing a non-aggression treaty with the DPRK, establishment of diplomatic relations with the DPRK, a guarantee of DPRK-Japan and inter-Korean economic cooperation, and completion of light-water reactors promised by the U.S. in 1994. In return, the DPRK would not manufacture nuclear weapons, and would allow inspections, realize the ultimate dismantling of nuclear facilities, and stop exporting and experimenting with missiles.

“The denuclearization of the peninsula was our initiative and it is our consistent stand,” said DPRK’s Vice Minister Kim Yong-il, who led his country’s delegation to the talks. He added, “If the nuclear issue between the two countries is to be peacefully settled through dialogue, the U.S. should make a radical switchover in its policy towards the DPRK.”

Turkey: Peace struggle heats up

Turkey’s Peace Association, affiliated with the World Peace Council, brought together thousands of people for a week-long political, cultural and sports festival in late August and early September. Works by a hundred artists were displayed, and documentary films by Turkish and international filmmakers were shown. Soccer, basketball and chess matches were organized, the latter with participation of the National Chess Team.

At the Aug. 31 Peace Festival, thousands heard WPC representative Nikos Fotiadis warn that imperialism’s real intentions are shown by the U.S. invasion of Iraq and Washington’s drive for ever more sophisticated weapons which can destroy humanity. Folk and popular artists from Turkey performed, and the Greek music group, Youth for Peace, sang well-known songs in both Greek and Turkish. Peace poems by Nazim Hikmet and Yannis Ritsos were read.

Nepal: Arrest peaceful protesters

Amnesty International last week condemned the Sept. 4 arrest of peaceful demonstrators on their way to a rally in the capital city, Kathmandu. “Such arrests … are contrary to the provision of the right of freedom to assemble peacefully in the Constitution of Nepal and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Nepal is a state party,” Amnesty International said.

Over 1,000 protesters were being held, including leaders and members of five political parties – the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist), Nepali Congress, Nepal Workers and Peasants Party, People’s Front Nepal and the Nepal Sadbhawana Party – which launched a struggle for reinstatement of parliament earlier this year. King Gyanendra dismissed the prime minister and parliament last fall.

The demonstrators, who also included labor and student leaders, defied the government’s ban on public gatherings of more than five people.

China: Concern over Japan’s missile plans

China’s Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan expressed concern last week about Japan’s plans to launch a missile defense system in 2007, saying the plans could undermine the military balance in the region and trigger a new arms race. Japan Times said Cao’s comments were made to Japanese Defense Agency head Shigeru Ishiba during the latter’s visit to Beijing.

The Defense Agency has requested funds in next year’s budget to upgrade a destroyer equipped with the Aegis air-defense system and to introduce a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 antimissile group for planned deployment in 2007.

Cao also urged Tokyo to dispose of World War II-era mustard gas abandoned in China by the Imperial Japanese Army that leaked and killed a man last month and injured more than 40 people. Japan is offering monetary compensation. It sent a medical team to help treat the victims, and chemical weapons experts to seal the leaking drums.

Africa: AIDS patients take pills well

Surveys done in Botswana, Uganda, Senegal and South Africa show that on average, AIDS patients there take about 90 percent of their medications, compared to about 70 percent in the U.S. The findings, reported by The New York Times, contradict allegations by some politicians, physicians and pharmaceutical executives that sending antiretroviral drugs to Africa would raise the risk of drug resistance from incomplete pill-taking. A 2001 claim by the director of the U.S. Agency for International Development that AIDS drugs “wouldn’t work” in Africa caused a widespread outcry.

“After nearly a decade of watching Africans die because AIDS drugs cost $10,000 or more a year per patient,” the Times said, “rich nations began pledging aid after generic competition in 2001 drove prices down to about $300 a year.” Last week the World Trade Organization agreed to change its rules to allow poor nations more access to the life-saving drugs.

International Notes are compiled by Marilyn Bechtel (cpusainternat@mindspring.com).

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