SEEKS TO CALM STRIKERS
PANAMA CITY - Panama's President Ernesto Perez Balladares said late last week he was ready to talk to striking workers about proposed labor law reforms that have sparked violent protests over the last week.
Mr. Perez Balladares, speaking on national radio and television, also announced partial changes to his government's proposed legislation after meeting union leaders who had negotiated the original reforms with business leaders.
He said he would meet the strikers "in order to return the country to tranquility."
The union leaders with whom Mr. Perez Balladares spoke joined in the strike after legislators made last-minute changes to the reforms.
The 49 unions that originally called the strike last Friday said they would end it only if lawmakers reject the whole project or Mr. Perez Balladares vetoes it.
HANOI TELLS CITIZENS
WHERE THEY CAN WORK
HANOI, Vietnam - Vietnam announced a ban on Friday on its citizens taking up a range of overseas jobs, including employment as domestic help or in cabarets and massage parlors.
The English-language Vietnam News quoted a Labor Ministry circular as saying Vietnamese women would not be allowed to take jobs outside the country as domestic servants, cabaret performers or masseuses.
The circular also said Vietnamese nationals would not be allowed to work in jobs where they could be exposed to explosives, noxious substances, contagious diseases or corpses.
The report said the ban "also applies to the hunting of wild beasts, sharks and crocodiles."
WORLD BANK FUNDING SET
FOR SUBIC BAY PROJECTS
MANILA, Philippines - The World Bank will lend $60 million to the management of the Subic Bay free port and special economic zone to fund infrastructure projects at the former U.S.-run naval base northwest of Manila, zone officials said Friday.
Kyodo News Service reported that Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority officer Armand Areza said the loans would partly fund the cost of $240 million of building waste disposal and water distribution systems, roads and bridges, and upgrading the power distribution system, expanding the airport and privatizing the seaport facility.
SEOUL MARKS V-J DAY
WITH CLEMENCY ORDER
SEOUL, South Korea - South Korea announced a sweeping clemency order Friday to mark the end of World War II 50 years ago, which liberated the country from Japan's harsh colonial rule.
Prominent politicians and business executives are among the beneficiaries. Justice Minister Ahn Woo-mahn said the clemency for 3,169 people would include 10 politicians; the founder of the giant Hyundai conglomerate, Chung Ju-yung; Chairman Kim Woo-choong of the Daewoo business group; Park Tae-joon, founder of Pohang Iron & Steel Co., the country's largest steel mill; and 19 other businessmen. Mr. Park has been in self- imposed exile in the face of corruption charges.
Among the political figures benefiting from the order are Park Chul-un, a powerful relative of ex-president Roh Tae-woo, who was convicted of accepting bribes in November 1993, and human-rights activist Kim Keun-tae.