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South Korea, US drill kicks off as tensions with North escalate SEOUL: South Korean and US troops launched a joint military exercise Monday, prompting an infuriated North Korea, which has threatened both countries with nuclear attack, to sever a hotline with Seoul.The start of the two-week "Key Resolve" exercise follows a week of escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula, with North Korea lashing out over tightened UN sanctions adopted after its third nuclear test last month.Pyongyang has condemned the joint manoeuvres as a provocative invasion rehearsal and announced that -- effective Monday -- it was scrapping the 1953 armistice ending the Korean War and voiding peace pacts signed with the South.The South's Unification Ministry confirmed that the North appeared to have carried through on another promise to cut the hotline between Pyongyang and Seoul.Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2013 ...

Myanmar government and Kachin rebels renew talks YANGON: Myanmar's government met Kachin rebels for renewed peace talks in China on Monday, an analyst said, as the rivals seek to resolve a festering ethnic conflict that has undermined reforms.Representatives of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) -- and its armed wing the KIA -- met government officials led by President's Office Minister Aung Min in the Chinese border town of Ruili."I think this meeting may be a little more productive than the previous one ...
South Korea mountain fires kill one, injure 17 SEOUL: A woman was killed and 17 people injured Sunday in raging mountain fires that destroyed dozens of houses in South Korea as thousands of firefighters struggled to stop the flames spreading.A blaze started Saturday evening in a remote part of the southeastern coastal city of Pohang and was almost put out by Sunday morning after killing an old woman and injuring 14 people, firefighters said. It destroyed 53 houses.Police said they were investigating a ...
North Korea says sanctions will boost its nuclear deterrent SEOUL: North Korea said Saturday that UN sanctions would only make its nuclear and missile programmes stronger, with the foreign ministry hinting at further nuclear tests to come.In a statement carried by state media, the ministry said the latest sanctions, which it "vehemently denounces and totally rejects", had reinforced Pyongyang's status "as a nuclear weapons state and satellite launcher".Even before Thursday's Security Council vote imposing tougher sanctions on Pyongyang over its nuclear test last month, ...
Sanctions against North Korea not BEIJING: Sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear programme are not "the fundamental way" to resolve the crisis, China's foreign minister said Saturday, days after the UN tightened measures against Pyongyang.China is the North's sole major ally and by far its biggest trading partner, including being its primary energy supplier.It voted Thursday for the UN resolution that stiffened restrictions on North Korea's financial dealings, notably its suspect "bulk cash" transfers, and blocked imports of some ...
Tropical cyclone forms off Australia SYDNEY: A tropical cyclone that has formed 1,000 km (600 miles) off Australia's northeast coast is likely head further out to sea, Australia's weather bureau said on Friday, sparing the region's coal and sugar industries and coastal communities. Tropical Cyclone Sandra is currently a category one storm, the lowest on a one to five scale, but is expected to strengthen and head southeast through the Coral Sea in the direction of New Caledonia. Northern Australia on average ...
Brother appeals for release of Philippine captives MANILA: The brother of one of the 21 Filipino UN peacekeepers seized by Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights called on Friday for their release, saying the group had been working for peace in Syria. The appeal came as a hoped-for quick release of the captives did not eventuate, with the Philippine government saying that the hostage takers were standing firm on their demand that Syrian troops be pulled back first. Xy-son Meneses said in ...

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