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NATO chief sees Russian hand in east Ukraine escalation BRUSSELS: NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Sunday he was "extremely concerned" about the escalation of tensions in east Ukraine, saying actions by uniformed, pro-Russian gunmen with military weapons pointed to an organised campaign to destabilise the region.Drawing parallels with Crimea, the Ukrainian region Russia annexed last month after deploying forces there, he warned Moscow against further military interference."We see a concerted campaign of violence by pro-Russian separatists, aiming to destabilise Ukraine as a sovereign state," Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement."The reappearance of men with specialised Russian weapons and identical uniforms without insignia, as previously worn by Russian troops during Russia's illegal and illegitimate seizure of Crimea, is a grave development."I call on Russia to de-escalate the crisis and pull back its large number of troops, including special forces, from the area around Ukraine's border," he said. "Any further Russian military interference, under any pretext, will only deepen Russia's ...

South Korea, Japan to hold rare official talks on ‘comfort women’ SEOUL: Senior South Korean and Japanese officials will meet this week to discuss Japan's wartime sexual enslavement of Korean women, South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Sunday.Ties between the two close US allies have long been poisoned by what South Korea consider Japan's failure to atone for its wartime past, including the issue of so-called comfort women, forced to work in Japanese brothels.The talks on Wednesday will be held a week or so ...

Japan orders chicken cull after bird flu outbreak in south TOKYO: Japan has ordered the slaughter of some 112,000 chickens after officials confirmed Sunday bird flu infections at a poultry farm in the south.DNA tests confirmed the H5 strain of the virus at a farm in Kumamoto prefecture that kept 56,000 birds, after its owner reported Saturday a lot of sudden deaths among his poultry, the agriculture ministry said in a statement.Officials also ordered the culling of another 56,000 birds at a separate farm run ...

Indonesia poll outcome dims economic reform hopes: analysts JAKARTA: Prospects for much-needed reforms in Southeast Asia's top economy are in doubt after a worse-than-expected election performance by the main opposition left Indonesia staring at an unwieldy coalition government, analysts warn.The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) won around 19 percent of the vote at Wednesday's elections, according to initial results, putting it in first place but with less than the 25-30 percent expected.The party had been buoyed by the popularity of its presidential ...

China investigates two more allies of former security chief BEIJING: Two officials with ties to China's powerful former domestic security tsar Zhou Yongkang have been placed under investigation, Chinese media and officials said, amid ramped-up speculation that Zhou himself is being targeted.Zhao Miao, a standing committee member of the Communist Party committee in Chengdu, the capital of southwestern Sichuan province, is being investigated for alleged "serious violations" of discipline, according to the party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI).No further details were given by ...

South Korea upbeat on growth, shrugs off US tapering WASHINGTON: South Korea's economy will maintain its fast recovery and the U.S. unwinding of its stimulus measures even adds to the optimism because it suggests exports will grow, the South Korean finance minister told Reuters on Friday.A spike in the amount of long-term external debt was not a source of concern but was "natural" in line with the expanding size of the Korean economy and was instead a sign of improving investor confidence in South ...

UK to ramp up fight against offshore tax evasion LONDON: Britain plans to toughen its rules on cash hidden offshore in a new bid to crack down on people evading tax, the government said on Saturday.Under a proposed new criminal offence, tax officials will only have to show that income on money held by individuals outside Britain is taxable and undeclared in order to secure a prosecution.Currently, British tax officials have to prove that an individual was deliberately trying to hide undeclared income from ...


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