China Tightens Security In Far West Region

ASIA UPDATE

CHINA is maintaining a tight security clamp on towns in the far western region of Xinjiang to prevent ethnic unrest in advance of the Muslim festival of Corban next month, foreign travelers said. Well-armed units of the paramilitary force were flown in last month from the regional capital of Urumqi to Kashgar, the foreigners said. Kashgar is near Baren, the site of violent ethnic unrest in April in which 22 died by official accounts. Unofficial reports cited more than twice that number.

A Muslim public security officer in Urumqi said that plainclothes security personnel sent to Kashgar informed their families that they would not be returning to Urumqi until the second week of July, after the Corban festival.

Kashgar, on the ancient Silk Road trading route, is populated by ethnic Uighurs, a Muslim minority of Turkic descent.

Seoul offers new date for stalled Korean talks

South Korean officials have formally accepted a North Korean offer to resume long-stalled political talks and suggested they start at a later date, Seoul government officials said yesterday.

In a telephone message to North Korea, South Korea proposed sending government delegates to the border village of Panmunjom July 3 to arrange an unprecedented meeting between the prime ministers of the two countries.

Pyongyang proposed last week to restart the talks Thursday. North Korea had earlier blasted a historic meeting between South Korean President Roh Tae Woo and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev earlier this month and rejected all calls for resumption of dialogue with South Korea.

North Korea severed border talks with South Korea in February to protest against Seoul's annual joint military maneuvers with United States forces on the peninsula. Last week, North Korea also proposed the resumption of talks on arranging a meeting between parliamentarians of the two countries. South Korea did not mention those talks in yesterday's message.

Cambodia's MIA commission

The Cambodian government established a commission to investigate the cases of the US soldiers reported still missing since the Indochina war, said SPK, the state news agency.

The news agency said Sunday that the five-member commission included the deputy interior minister and the deputy foreign minister.

The US has no formal relations with the communist government in Phnom Penh, which was installed by Vietnam after its 1978 invasion. A trade and aid embargo was imposed on Cambodia by the US government. And the US provides nonlethal aid to two groups of noncommunist guerrillas allied to the Khmer Rouge. Washington has made it clear it does not want contacts with Phnom Penh that would imply political recognition, but would accept remains as a humanitarian gesture.

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