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Castro message 'positive sign' WASHINGTON: The United States welcomed Tuesday former Cuban leader Fidel Castro's belated response to the thaw in ties between the Cold War foes as a sign that change is under way in Havana."We take his reference of 'international norms and principles' as a positive sign," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters, after Castro's letter was released.Psaki said Washington now looked forward "to the Cuban government implementing those international norms and principles for a democratic, prosperous and stable Cuba."Last week, the highest-ranking US delegation in 35 years began negotiating with Cuban officials in Havana on restoring diplomatic ties, reopening embassies in their respective capitals and lifting some travel restrictions.Psaki stressed though that there was "a lot more work to be done" and revealed the US has "invited Cuban officials to Washington in the coming weeks" to continue the talks.No definite date has been set yet.Fidel Castro, 88, and still an ...

Abbott takes royal knighthood storm 'on the chin' MELBOURNE: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Wednesday he stood by his controversial decision to award Britain's Prince Philip a knighthood and was taking the firestorm of criticism "on the chin".Several ministers have walked away from Abbott's appointment of the nonagenarian Duke of Edinburgh to the ranks of the Order of Australia, MPs on all sides have mocked the move and the media condemned it severely.Abbott had kept quiet since Australia Day on Monday when ...

US state executes killer despite disability claim WASHINGTON: The US state of Georgia executed a double killer Tuesday whose lawyers said he was intellectually disabled, after last-minute pleas for his life were thrown out.The Supreme Court turned down the final appeal from lawyers of Warren Hill, 54, who was pronounced dead from lethal injection at 7:55 pm (0055 GMT), a prison spokeswoman said.The court voted 7-2 not to take up the petition arguing Hill shouldn't be executed because he was intellectually disabled.Hill, ...

Mexico 'certain' that missing students dead: minister MEXICO CITY: Authorities in Mexico can now say with "legal certainty" that the 43 students who went missing in September were murdered by hitmen working for a drug gang, the justice minister said Tuesday.The disappearance of the men -- all aspiring teachers attending classes at a training college in the southern state of Guerrero -- sparked nationwide protests and a crisis for the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto.Officials said the students vanished after gang-linked ...

Venezuela prepares public for hikes in gas prices CARACAS: Venezuela's socialist government has launched a flurry of TV commercials and newspaper ads aimed at persuading the public they pay too little for gasoline.It's hard to argue they don't in this oil-rich but cash-strapped country where gas sells for $.15 a liter, or less than 60 US cents a gallon, the world's cheapest.But the last government that tried to raise prices, in 1989, ignited riots that left hundreds dead nationwide.This time, the government of ...

Brazilian malls, supermarkets forecast slowdown after weak 2014 SAO PAULO: Brazilian mall and supermarket associations on Tuesday forecast slowing sales growth after a weak 2014, with revenues scarcely keeping up with inflation and store openings as consumer sentiment sours. The meager 2015 forecasts reinforce a grim outlook for Brazilian retailers, as higher taxes, rising interest rates and stagnant job growth pinch families' budgets, contributing to some economists' forecasts of a recession in 2015.Consumer confidence in Brazil plunged in January to the lowest level ...

US senator says expects fast-track trade bill in February WASHINGTON: The head of the Senate committee responsible for trade said on Tuesday he hopes to present a bill to streamline the passage of trade deals through the US Congress in February. Senate Committee on Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch said he was still working with the top Democrat on the panel, Ron Wyden, and others on the final form of the bill. "I'm hoping to move it along, it will happen in February," he told ...


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ICT 2014

Foreign Debt $61.805bn
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WeeklyJanuary 25, 2015
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