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Highlights from the world's press

Compiled by Ravi Agrawal
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(CNN) -- The New York Times is one of many international papers to call on North Korea to refrain from testing nuclear weapons, saying "the Bush administration, and other critical players, need to do a lot more to talk North Korea back from the nuclear ledge -- and to keep it there."

"Mr. Bush cannot indulge his own ambivalence over whether it would be better to negotiate with Kim Jong-il or try to overthrow him. North Korea may have the most erratic, brutal and opaque leadership in the world. And it's impossible to know whether the "dear leader" would really trade away his weapons program for any price. But this White House has yet to test him."

In Seoul, the Korea Times says "it is all but certain that North Korea's announcement that it will conduct a nuclear test is aimed at jump-starting bilateral talks with the United States."

"The United States will not yield to the North's brinkmanship but will instead step up sanctions. Were Pyongyang to join the nuclear club, Washington might feel tempted to drop multinational dialogue and move toward regime change."

And with Japan about to resume summits with China and South Korea after a hiatus, Japan's Asahi Shimbun says "Japan, China and South Korea should also join hands in dealing with North Korea."

"The three countries are the ones that would be exposed to the greatest threat by North Korea. It is the [their] responsibility to lead the action of international society on this matter."

The Sydney Morning Herald echoes these views, saying "diplomacy, for all its frustrations, still offers the best hope of getting Kim Jong Il to abandon his present dangerous course... If a mediator is needed, the obvious candidate is South Korea's Ban Ki-moon, tipped to be formally nominated next week as the next UN secretary-general."

Raising false hopes

The Guardian in the UK says "a cruel hoax is being perpetrated on the desperate people of Darfur."

"It is not just that the Khartoum government rejects the idea of U.N. troops. More important, Bush and Blair know that, even if Khartoum were to back down, they will not be sending US or British troops to replace the African Union (A.U.) force. Nor will other European governments. Why does this matter? Because hundreds of thousands of displaced villagers who sit in miserable camps across Darfur are under the impression that European soldiers will soon be riding over the hill to save them."

Afghanistan

With foreign forces now numbering 31,000 combating a resurgent Taleban in Afghanistan, The Times says it is "clearly time for a strategic re-assessment."

With winter coming on, the paper says "NATO should make the most of this opportunity. The Taleban will regroup and attempt to re-equip with arms smuggled in from Pakistan. NATO, better equipped, must allow no let-up, must interdict the supply routes and prepare the offensives to be launched while the Taleban are weak."

On a related note, the International Herald Tribune says "NATO should urgently reinforce the operation in Afghanistan. The alliance still has onerous responsibilities in the Balkans, with the upcoming resolution of Kosovo's final status likely to necessitate an extension of NATO's mission, not its end."

Christmas panto

The UK's Daily Express, meanwhile, reports that Patrick Duffy, 57, who was once watched by 350 million viewers as Bobby Ewing in long-running TV series Dallas, will soon be appearing in a slightly less high profile role -- in a British Christmas pantomime.

Duffy will be appearing as Baron Hardup in Cinderella at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking. "I am delighted to be part of this great British tradition," says Duffy. He is not the only US star to venture onto the English stage this winter -- Henry Winkler, who played the Fonz in TV series Happy Days, is to star as Captain Hook in a stage version of Peter Pan at the Wimbledon Theatre, London.


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