World Briefs

  • 16/12/2008 01:00
  • 16/12/2008 01:00
KEELUNG, Taiwan – Taiwanese jetliners and cargo ships left Monday for China to open a new era of direct air and shipping services with t...

KEELUNG, Taiwan – Taiwanese jetliners and cargo ships left Monday for China to open a new era of direct air and shipping services with the mainland, formally ending a nearly six-decade ban on regular links between the rivals.

The passenger flights and sailings reflected perhaps the most dramatic improvement in relations between the two sides since they split amid civil war in 1949.

Ties over the years have been consistently tense and, occasionally alarming, with both sides amassing missiles that remain pointed at each other across the 100-mile (160-kilometer) wide Taiwan Strait.

TORONTO – The opposition Liberal Party struck a more upbeat tone on Monday about co-operating with the Conservative government after legislators from both parties met to address concerns on the state of the country's finances.

Liberals Scott Brison and John McCallum met in Toronto with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, asking him to produce an "honest" set of fiscal projections.

"What we said was that the fiscal update said that there was a C$100 million dollar surplus," said McCallum. "This is a number that nobody believes now."

PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Pakistani truckers are refusing to haul vital supplies to NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan because of mounting attacks along the main route, a transporters association said Monday.

Pakistani troops recently began escorting convoys through the Khyber Pass to the border to protect them from Taliban ambushes. Western military officials insist their Afghan operations are not at risk.

Shakirullah Afridi, the president of the Khyber Transport Union, said Monday its members had been using some 3,500 trucks and trailers to carry fuel, food and other supplies to Afghanistan.

He said that no offer of improved terms and security would persuade them to risk their lives or equipment again.

"If all the countries of NATO cannot control the situation in Afghanistan, how can escorts from the Frontier Corps ensure our safety?".

RAMALLAH, West Bank – Israel released 224 Palestinian prisoners Monday in a gesture to moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and jubilant detainees waving Palestinian flags jumped on the roof of one of the buses carrying them to freedom.

Separately, Israel expelled an arriving U.N. human rights envoy after accusing him of bias against the Jewish state. The envoy, Richard Falk, has compared Israel to Nazi Germany and accused the Jewish state of crimes against humanity because of its treatment of Palestinians.

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