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News Briefs, part 1

Clinton Remarks on Atomic Bomb

The Washington Post

A brief and seemingly cautious comment by President Clinton has stirred outrage among Japanese politicians and sparked renewed demands that the United States apologize for having used the atomic bomb in World War II.

This latest outburst of the trans-Pacific tension that lingers 50 years after the war was prompted at a meeting in Dallas last weekend when Clinton was asked whether the United States should apologize for dropping the bomb and whether President Harry S. Truman was right to have authorized it.

Clinton handled both queries in fewer than a dozen words: "No, and based on the facts he had before him, yes." This uncharacteristically concise presidential reply was not treated as major news in the United States. In Japan, though, Clinton's defense of the nuclear weapon got banner front-page treatment.

Some leading Japanese politicians are demanding that the president take back his words. Some of those shouting the loudest for a U.S. apology are the same people who argue that Japan need not apologize for its aggression before and during the war.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yohei Kono is scheduled to travel to the United States next week for a United Nations meeting. Prominent members of Japan's governing coalition are demanding that he complain to his counterpart, Secretary of State Warren Christopher, about Clinton's statement endorsing the use of the bomb.

Germany, Vietnam Agree on Repatriation Plan for Vietnamese

Los Angeles Times

German officials said Thursday that they have reached a basic agreement with Hanoi on the mandatory repatriation of about 40,000 Vietnamese nationals living in Germany, after weeks of disagreement over the financial underpinnings of the deal.

German sources said the arrangement calls for the Vietnamese to return to their homeland in shifts, by the year 2000. In exchange, Vietnam is to receive a trade-promotion and development-assistance package worth more than $65 million.

Final details must be worked out before the repatriations begin.

The departure of the Vietnamese would remove a small but highly visible vestige of Cold War life from this formerly divided nation, as well as eliminate an occasional source of racial irritation.

The arrangement is being hailed by German businesses, which are eager to get a toehold in the expanding Vietnamese market and have been unable to get export credits while repatriation was still an open question.

But humanitarian groups argue that it is wrong to link repatriation, a human rights issue, with the interests of German business.