Extracts.

Jiang Sends Letter to Arafat Over Mideast Situation
Chinese President Jiang Zemin on Saturday showed great concern about the
deteriorating situation in the Middle East and voiced support for
Palestine's efforts to salvage the peace process in the region.
In a letter in reply to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Jiang said the
China supports all efforts towards seeking a peaceful solution and wishes
the two sides could take effective measures to get back to the negotiation
table. 

Palestine's Bid to Seek Cease-fire Appreciated
In a letter in reply to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Jiang said the
Chinese government and people are sympathetic with the difficult condition
the Palestinian National Authority and its people are facing.
China appreciates Palestine's bid to seek a cease-fire with Israel, Jiang
said. 

China Support Efforts Towards Peaceful Solution
*    Implementation of Military Strikes Opposed

Jiang said China opposes Israel's implementation of such measures as
military strikes, economic blockade, impairing the life of Palestinian
civilians and damaging their property, especially the act of confining the
freedom of movement of Arafat.
*    Effective Measures for Negotiation Urged

China supports all efforts towards seeking a peaceful solution to the
current Mideast crisis and wishes the two sides could practice restraint and
take effective measures to get back to the negotiation table, Jiang
stressed. 
*    China to Play Due Role

China is willing, in cooperation with the international community, to play
its due role in easing the tension in the Middle East, he added.

****

Myanmar Leader Meets Chinese CAFIU Delegation
First Secretary of the Myanmar State Peace and Development Council
Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt met with visiting delegation of the China
Association for International Understanding (CAFIU) in Yangon Sunday
afternoon. 

First Secretary of the Myanmar State Peace and Development Council
Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt met with visiting delegation of the China
Association for International Understanding (CAFIU) in Yangon Sunday
afternoon. 
Khin Nyunt said at the meeting that Myanmar-China friendship has been long
standing and the "paukphaw" (fraternal) friendship, forged personally by
leaders of elder generation of the two countries, is continuously
developing. 
He stressed the need for Myanmar and China to strengthen cooperation in the
wake of momentary changes of international situation, adding that the
Myanmar side believes only through development of all-sided cooperative
ties, can it be able to cope with the new challenge ahead.
The Chinese delegation arrived in Myanmar on Wednesday on a six-day goodwill
visit. 


****

Egyptian FM Blasts Israel for Violating Signed Agreements
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher on Sunday blasted Israel for violating
agreements it signed with the Palestinian side every day, urging the
international community to help bring the two sides back to negotiations.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher on Sunday blasted Israel for violating
agreements it signed with the Palestinian side every day, urging the
international community to help bring the two sides back to negotiations.
Upon his return from Jordan late Sunday, Maher said that Sunday's suicide
bombing attack in Jerusalem and another in Tel Aviv two days ago proved that
Israel's suppressive measures against the Palestinians will not lead to
security and stability.
The Sunday suicide bombing attack in central Jerusalem killed one Israeli
and wounded at least 90 others.
"The only way to realize security for both the Palestinians and the Israelis
is to end the current Israeli acts and push forward peace negotiations,"
Maher said. 
During his one-day visit to Jordan, Maher met with Jordanian King Abdullah
II and other officials on the latest developments of the situation in the
occupied Palestinian lands.
In addition, Maher conveyed a message from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
to the Jordanian king on the Mideast situation.
Maher's visit came at a time when the situation in the Palestinian
territories worsened in the past few days.
Late Friday, Israeli F-16 warplanes fired missiles at Gaza City and the West
Bank town of Tulkarm, killing at least one Palestinian security man and
injuring about 40 others.
The Israeli air raids were in retaliation for a suicide bombing attack in
Tel Aviv earlier on Friday, during which 26 Israelis were wounded.
Egypt and Jordan, the only two Arab countries to have signed peace accords
with Israel, have kept constant contacts on the Mideast situation.

****



Japan to Dispatch New Fleet of Warships to Indian Ocean
Japan plans send a new fleet of four warships to the Indian Ocean as early
as next month to replace its warships already there to continue providing
logistical support to U.S.-led military operations in Afghanistan, Kyodo
News reported on Monday.


Japan   plans send a new fleet of four warships to the Indian Ocean as early
as next month to replace its warships already there to continue providing
logistical support to U.S.-led military operations in Afghanistan, Kyodo
News reported on Monday.

The ongoing mission to provide such logistical support will be extended to
March 31, Kyodo said, quoting sources from Japan's Defense Agency.

The new fleet, including three destroyers and a supply ship from Japan's
Maritime Self-Defense Force, is scheduled to leave Japan at around February
14, Kyodo said. 

The three destroyers will be the 4,950-ton Haruna from Maizuru, 3,500-ton
Setogiri from Ominato and 3,500-ton Sawakaze from Sasebo,while the supply
ship will be the 8,150-ton Tokiwa, it said.

The fleet, with a total crew of some 900, will replace three destroyers and
two supply ships in Indian Ocean which became the first group of vessels
sent to the area last November under a hastily enacted anti-terrorism
legislation, it reported.

The second group of warships will provide support services until mid-May,
after which Japan will extend the mission term again and may dispatch a
third group of war ships as U.S.-led military operations in Afghanistan are
likely to continue, according to Kyodo.

Japan's Defense Agency denied to disclose any details of Japan's logistical
support mission in the Indian Ocean, except for the number of refueling
operations and volume of oil supplied.

The first fleet has supplied 30,000 kiloliters of fuel, worth around 1.5
billion yen (11.2 million U.S. dollars), to U.S.-led forces operating in the
Arabian Sea since early December last year, according to Japanese Defense
Agency. 

****



S. Korean Full-Scale Cabinet Reshuffle Imminent.
 
A full-scale cabinet reshuffle in South Korea is to be announced early
Februry, Chosun Ilbo report says Monday.

A full-scale cabinet reshuffle in South Korea is to be announced early
Februry, Chosun Ilbo report says Monday.

South Korean President Kim Dae-jung would effect a sweeping cabinet
reshuffle including Prime Minister Lee Han-dong, Deputy Prime Minister for
Economy Jin Nyum and the controversial Senior Presidential Secretary for
Economy Lee Ki-ho this week, an high-ranking official of the Cheong Wa-Dae
said Sunday. The official said the reshuffle is expected to be announced
before February 4 when the annual new year Ministerial briefings for
President starts. 

President Kim had been expected to announce cabinet reshuffle around the end
of Februay, however, he has to advance the schedule as the story of his
senior economic secretary Lee Ki-ho's alleged involvement in the "treasure
ship scandal" was reported on the media.


****

Roundup: Iran, Iraq Edge Closer Before US Shifts Anti-Terrorism Battlefield
Iran and Iraq, two regional rival foes, have intensified diplomatic drives
to normalize relations, as Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri Ahmed toured
the bickering neighbor amid hopes to forge healthier ties at a time when
Iraq faces potential U.S. attack for allegedly supporting terrorism.

Iran and Iraq, two regional rival foes, have intensified diplomatic drives
to normalize relations, as Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri Ahmed toured
the bickering neighbor amid hopes to forge healthier ties at a time when
Iraq faces potential U.S. attack for allegedly supporting terrorism.
Ahmed, whose four-day visit was at the invitation of his Iranian counterpart
Kamal Kharazi, expressed hope to "solve the last outstanding issues from the
(Iran-Iraq) war with the Iranian authorities" when touching down in Tehran.
The top Iraqi diplomat said after meeting Kharazi that "Baghdad is keen on
increasing exchanges between the two countries," adding that his country
would "do everything possible" to do away with the bitter memories of the
past. 
While receiving Ahmed, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami on Sunday called
on both sides to look to the future and forget the bitter past as far as
their religious, historical and cultural bonds are concerned, State Radio
reported. 
Ahmed's visit, the latest in a series of efforts made by both countries to
mend their fences, is expected to lead to normalization of bilateral ties.
An Iranian delegation headed by Amir Hussein Zamani, a consultant for
Kharazi, was in Baghdad earlier this month for talkswith Iraqi officials on
ways to boost bilateral ties and settle theoutstanding "humanitarian"
issues. 
Zamani was commissioned to finalized the talks on the fate of the remaining
Iranian POWs (prisons of war) and MIAs (missing in action) of the Iran-Iraq
War. 
Iran and Iraq waged a war from 1980 to 1988 that left hundreds of thousands
dead on each side. 
For more than 13 years following their ceasefire, the two neighbors have yet
to sign a peace treaty and the thorny issues such as the POWs and the
support for each other's opposition groups have seriously marred the
normalization of the bilateral ties.
Iran says more than 3,000 of its forces are still held in Iraqi prisons and
refutes Baghdad's claims that it holds nearly 29,000 Iraqi soldiers.
In Tehran, animosity lingers over Baghdad's sheltering and supporting for
the Iraq-based Iranian armed opposition Mujahideen Khalq Organization (MKO),
which has often engaged in attacks against Iran.
As a concrete step for a diplomatic thaw, Iran has released 682 Iraqi
prisoner of war over the past few days in accordance with recent
negotiations by the two countries to resume the exchange of POWs. In
exchange, Iraq freed 50 Iranian prisoners held in Iraq forborder violations
or illegal residence.
In another positive move, Iranian planes are allowed to use Iraq airspace
for direct flights to Syria following agreement reached here by visiting
Iraqi Transport Minister Ahmad Murtada Ahmad and his Iranian counterpart
Ahmad Khoram. 
Flights between Tehran and Damascus have detoured over Turkey toavoid the
two no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq which were imposed by the
Western allies after the 1991 Gulf War and patrolled by U.S. and British
warplanes. 
Earlier, Ahmed had noted that remaining disputes between Iran and Iraq will
be hazardous for both countries, as "the current conditions of the region
are highly critical and this calls for Iran's and Iraq's joint efforts to
solve all remaining problems."
While Tehran received Ahmed with open arms, the motive and timing of his
visit did not go unquestioned by Iran's critical media.
As the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan comes to an end and Iraq becomes a
potential target of the U.S. military campaign, its war-time olive branch is
seen to reflect Baghdad's concern over being further isolated.
The English-language daily Iran News has said in a recent editorial that the
current diplomatic drives are not the first time Iraq has tried
rapprochement, as many Iraqi official delegations visited Tehran and urged
reconciliation between the bitter rivals in the months leading up to the
Gulf War in 1991. 
The paper pointed out that at this crucial juncture, "Iraq needs as many
friends in the region as it can get."
Tehran Times has also questioned Iraq's sincerity over developing ties with
Iran by pointing out that whenever Iraq has come under pressure or felt
threatened by outside powers, it has changed its attitude towards its
neighboring countries, calling for brotherly relations with its neighbors.
But the two countries have found common ground in cooperation by sharing a
sworn enemy, the United States, who has failed to see eye to eye on regional
and global issues with the two headstrong regional powers who dare to
challenge it from time to time.
At this critical stage, Iran and Iraq have expressed readiness to close the
file of all outstanding issues and put aside their disputes for mutual
security and interests, at least for the time being.









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