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Philippine names ambassador to China amid sea row MANILA: Philippine President Benigno Aquino named a senior diplomat as ambassador to Beijing on Wednesday, saying it showed Manila was serious about resolving a tense standoff over territory in the South China Sea.   Erlinda Basilio, 68, who as a foreign department undersecretary helped draft national diplomatic policy, will take over a post that was effectively vacant as the two neighbours' quarrel over the Scarborough Shoal simmered.   "This sends a signal of how important our relations with China are and how serious we are in trying to achieve an understanding with them," Aquino said of Basilio's appointment.   Diplomatic sources said Basilio had helped draft the Philippines' hardline stance against China's controversial claims, which have irked Beijing.   The foreign department said in a statement that Basilio was well-versed on the issues, adding: "we are relying on her to enhance the bilateral relations between the Philippines and our very important neighbour and friend, China".   Basilio previously served as ...

Mali government, rebels agree to respect OUAGADOUGOU: Malian government and two rebel groups agreed on Tuesday to respect Mali's "national unity" as they held their first talks to try to end the crisis that has split the west African country in two.   Delegations from the government, the Islamist Ansar Dine and the Tuareg MNLA agreed "on the respect for Mali's national unity and territorial integrity," and "on the rejection of any form of extremism and terrorism," they said in a statement.   Copyright AFP ...

Merkel roundly backed to steer Germany through rough seas HANOVER: Chancellor Angela Merkel was overwhelmingly re-elected her party's leader on Tuesday as she kicked off her bid for a third term, saying only she could steer Germany through turbulence at home and abroad.   Touting her government as the best in two decades, Merkel, 58, who has led Germany as chancellor since 2005, won record backing among members of her conservative party in her re-election to party head.   "These are turbulent times and sometimes we even find ...

IOC definitively lift Kuwait suspension LAUSANNE: International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Tuesday definitively lifted the suspension of the Kuwait Olympic Committee after receiving assurances concerning the body's autonomy, spokesman Mark Adams said.   The IOC executive commission rubber stamped the decision during a meeting here after having already lifted the two-year ban last July just in time to allow the country's athletes parade under their national flag at the London Olympics.   Kuwait's Olympic committee were suspended by the IOC in January, 2010, over ...

Furor over picture of New York subway death NEW YORK: A New York Post front page picture of a man about to be killed by an oncoming subway train provoked fury Tuesday from readers left wondering why nobody, particularly the photographer, tried to pull the victim to safety and why the tabloid published the image.   Police say the victim was thrown onto the tracks during a fight Monday with a deranged man in a Manhattan subway station.   He then staggered to his feet and tried, ...

Ottawa warns North Korea not to test missile OTTAWA: Canada's top diplomat on Tuesday warned North Korea not to carry out a planned rocket launch, calling it a "provocation" and a "threat to regional peace and security."   Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird made the comments as South Korea's Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik is visiting Ottawa this week to discuss trade and security with his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper.   "We are extremely concerned about North Korea's plan to test a long-range ballistic missile," Baird said in ...

Pro-govt activists attack trade union demo in Tunis TUNIS: Supporters of Tunisia's ruling Islamist party on Tuesday attacked a demonstration by the country's main labour union, in the latest unrest two years after the revolution, an AFP photographer reported.   Several dozen assailants attacked members of the General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT) who were gathered outside the union's headquarters in Tunis to mark the 60th anniversary of the assassination of its founder, Farhat Hached.   The police intervened to separate the two sides, but 10 demonstrators ...


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