East Timor – Chinese State Visit – Clinton Visit – Northland Prison – APEC – APEC Hotel Bill – Cullen Editorial
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EAST TIMOR – INDONESIA: The United Nations hopes to reduce the risk of hostile fire on its peacekeeping forces in East Timor by asking Indonesia to withdraw its Army units sympathetic to local militia. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Don McKinnon, said yesterday that one of the UN's first tasks would be an analysis of which Indonesian battalions would back the planned peacekeeping force - and which had actively supported the militia.
CHINESE STATE VISIT: The Government buckled to the will of China last night and got the police to forcibly remove a group of Free Tibet protesters from outside a hotel hosting a state banquet for President Jiang Zemin. In a major diplomatic incident, Mr Jiang kept hundreds of guests at a Christchurch hotel waiting 90 minutes because he refused to drive past the protesters.
CHINESE STATE VISIT: Legal experts and civil libertarians are aghast at the apparent political influence wielded over police to force them to act last night against lawful protest. Dr Bill Hodge, associate professor of law at Auckland University, said the police were "not the Prime Minister's private army." Their allegiance was solely to the law.
CLINTON: Prime Minister Jenny Shipley holds formal talks with President Clinton today, and New Zealand officials hope the American leader will present a new move to boost defence links. The two will give a brief press conference after their Christhurch meeting. New Zealand is still barred from military exercises involving the United States because of its anti-nuclear legislation, passed by the Fourth Labour Government, banning nuclear-powered warships from New Zealand ports.
CLINTON – GOLF: The South Island town that bears the stamp of royalty became presidential property yesterday. Normal service was interrupted for 24 hours in Queenstown as United States President Bill Clinton took over. Roads were blocked, sharpshooters nestled in craggy outcrops, the Army stood guard beside empty paddocks and Mr Clinton played golf.
NORTHLAND PRISON: The Government plans to build a Northland regional prison just east of Kaikohe, but Maori predict opposition from some shareholders who own land at the proposed site. Corrections Minister Clem Simich yesterday announced his decision to build the 300-inmate prison at Ngawha.
APEC: The value of knowing your neighbours was highlighted in the Apec forum's united stand over East Timor and difficult trade issues, says the architect of the summit. Maarten Wevers, the New Zealand chairman of Apec senior officials, said intensive diplomatic legwork by Prime Minister Jenny Shipley in visiting Apec counterparts before the summit had paid big dividends. The pre-summit visits were a first by a host leader, and were reinforced by the influential regional relationships of Foreign Minister Don McKinnon and Trade Minister Lockwood Smith.
APEC – HOTEL BILL: By paying its outstanding $300,000-plus Auckland hotel dues at the 11th hour yesterday, the Philippine Government averted a potential diplomatic storm. Auckland Park Regency hotel managers had grave doubts the Filipinos, in town for the Apec summit, would front up with the money. The managers had been shattered on Friday when dozens of the Philippine delegates walked out of their boutique hotel in Greys Ave and checked into the Heritage Auckland hotel to be near their leader, President Joseph Estrada.
EDITORIAL – CULLEN: When reason failed him on the West Coast this week Labour's deputy leader, Michael Cullen, said the party's policy against selective logging of native trees was a "values call." That must have stopped hecklers in their tracks. It sounds like the sort of prin-ciple environmentalists advance when banning all harvesting of a species that is no longer threatened with extinction. Conser-vation in those circumstances becomes a selective "value" indeed, forbidding even sustainable harvesting of certain species because of aesthetic appeal.