In a major gesture to North Korea, the Pentagon is ready to announce today the suspension of the annual U.S.-South Korean "Team Spirit" military exercises.
The planned announcement coincides with the start of limited inspections of North Korean nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency on Wednesday and the scheduled reopening today of the dialogue between the North and South Koreans at the border village of Panmunjom.
Those two developments were the administration's conditions for calling off the military exercises, which the North Koreans repeatedly have condemned as "provocative."
Administration officials said the exercises would be quickly rescheduled if the North Koreans blocked the seven-site inspection that is intended to verify that they are not working on nuclear weapons, or if they broke off the talks on making Korea a non-nuclear peninsula.
"This is part of the carrot-and-stick approach," said a senior Pentagon official.
The "stick" includes U.S. readiness to send Patriot anti-missile missiles to South Korea. But Seoul has been reluctant to accept the missiles, fearing this would antagonize the North Koreans at a time of diplomatic progress.
Army Gen. Gary Luck, the commander of U.S. forces in South Korea, said Wednesday that the Seoul government might not accept the Patriots unless the United Nations moved toward imposing sanctions on the North. Luck had asked for the Patriots as protection for his troops late last year as tension over the North's nuclear program was rising.
"We're holding in abeyance the deployment of those Patriots," he said.
China uses 1,000 camps for labor
PARIS _ More than 1,000 Chinese prison camps use forced labor to produce goods that are disguised by popular brand names and exported to the United States and Europe, according to a survivor of China's gulag.
Harry Wu, who spent 19 years in labor camps, wants France to join the United States and Britain in passing legislation banning imports of goods produced with prison slave labor.
He also hopes France will support the United States' tough stand in renewing China's most-favored-nation trade status, which links human rights to commercial and political ties.
"The Soviet Union never got MFN as a communist country. Why should China get it?" said Wu.
Some 10-million people are jailed in China's laogai, or labor-reform system, forced to work under inhuman conditions to contribute to China's manufacturing output, Wu, 57, says in his memoirs.
Wu's Laogai Research Foundation, based in Milpitas, Calif., identified 1,083 labor camps in 1993. The camps typically have two names, one disguising their true nature, he said.
Wu's term in prison began when he was 23. He was arrested as a college student in 1960 for being a "counterrevolutionary rightist" but never charged or tried. He was released in 1979.