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WASHINGTON IN BRIEF

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

N. Korea May Be Taken off Terrorism List

North Korea may soon be on its way to being the second country taken off the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism during the Bush administration's war on terrorism.

Dell Dailey, the State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism, told a group of reporters yesterday that North Korea appears to meet the criteria for removal. "Taking countries off of the designation list is pretty specific," Dailey said. "You go back six months, you see if there's been any visible support or material support. We don't see that with North Korea. You also ask them to give an affirmation that they will not do things in the future. . . . It appears that North Korea has complied with those criteria."

Getting off the U.S. list was until recently hard to accomplish. North Korea was added two decades ago, after the bombing of a Korean Air Lines flight in 1987.

But the Bush administration has used the list -- which exposes countries to sanctions -- as a prod for better behavior. Libya was removed in 2006 after it promised to give up its weapons-of-mass-destruction programs and to make payments to the families of victims of Pan Am Flight 103, which was blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.

Tokyo has pressed Washington not to remove North Korea from the list until it provides a full account of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean agents.

Ultimately, the decision on removal rests with President Bush, notwithstanding the legal criteria or diplomatic sensitivities.

Senate Passes 3.5% Pay Increase for Troops

The Senate approved a revised defense bill that authorizes a 3.5 percent pay raise for troops while sidestepping a veto showdown.

The 91 to 3 vote sends the $696 billion measure to President Bush. The House passed it 369 to 46 last week.

The president had rejected an earlier version of the bill because of a provision that would have guaranteed that victims of state-sponsored abuse can sue foreign governments in court and collect judgments by seizing its assets inside the United States. Bush said that would have exposed Iraq to large lawsuits over abuse during the Saddam Hussein era.

-- From Staff Reports and News Services

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