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Putin calls for currency union with ex-Soviet allies ASTANA: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday called for a single currency with the Kremlin's closest ex-Soviet allies despite fraying ties in the region which is struggling with the fallout from Moscow's economic crisis.Putin urged closer integration for his flagship Eurasian Economic Union -- which also includes Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia -- as Moscow scrambles to limit the damage from Western sanctions over Ukraine and tumbling oil prices. "We think the time has come to discuss opportunities to form a potential currency union," Putin said at a meeting with his Kazakh and Belarusian counterparts in Kazakhtan's capital Astana. "Working shoulder to shoulder, it is easier to react to external financial and economic threats, and protect our common market." Political and economic ties between Moscow and the bloc's two other founding members, Belarus and energy-rich Kazakhstan, have been strained by the recent economic woes and jitters over Russia's alleged military involvement ...

Afghan leaders head to Washington ahead of fighting season KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah travel this weekend to Washington where they are expected to focus on reconciliation with the Taliban as the annual "fighting season" begins.Diplomatic efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table have gained pace recently, even as security forces have launched offensives against the insurgent group without NATO assistance for the first time since 2002.Ghani and Abdullah leave Saturday for an official four-day trip ...
Former Australian leader Malcolm Fraser dead at 84 SYDNEY: Former conservative prime minister Malcolm Fraser, who came to power in 1975 after Australia's greatest constitutional crisis, died on Friday after a short illness at the age of 84.His death came just five months after the demise of Gough Whitlam, the man Fraser replaced after the Labor figure became Australia's only prime minister to be sacked."It is with deep sadness that we inform you that after a brief illness John Malcolm Fraser died peacefully ...
North Korea to convene rare parliament session in April SEOUL: North Korea announced Friday it will convene a rare parliamentary session next month, which analysts said would likely rubber-stamp policies outlined by leader Kim Jong-Un in a bid to resolve chronic food shortages in the country."The 3rd session of the 13th Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK (North Korea) will be convened in Pyongyang on April 9," state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.It gave no other details, including on the session's agenda.The Supreme ...
China probes official in Xi's 'second hometown' BEIJING: Chinese authorities are investigating a senior official in a province President Xi Jinping has dubbed his "second hometown", the Communist Party's internal watchdog said Friday, amid a much-publicised anti-graft campaign.Xu Gang, the vice governor of Fujian in eastern China, is being probed for "alleged serious violations of the law," according to a one-sentence announcement posted on the website of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.The phrase is usually a euphemism for corruption, an issue ...
Japan to expand SE Asia security ties with Indonesia pact TOKYO/JAKARTA: Japan will sign a defence pact with Indonesia next week, officials in both governments said, the latest effort by Tokyo to forge closer security ties with Southeast Asian nations and build a counter-balance to China.Japan has already bolstered partnerships with the Philippines and Vietnam, the two countries most at odds with China over a territorial row in the South China Sea. Japan itself is embroiled in a bitter dispute with China over uninhabited islands ...
South Korea, US forces to start massive military landing drill SEOUL: South Korea and the United States will launch a massive landing drill next week, the climax of an ongoing joint military exercise which North Korea views as an invasion rehearsal.The amphibious drill will start March 28 and run until April 1 at the port of Pohang, some 360 kilometers (223 miles) south of Seoul, the US-South Korea Combined Forces Command said in a statement.It will include some 1,000 US Marines, three US amphibious ships ...

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ICT 2014

Foreign Debt $61.805bn
Per Cap Income $1,386
GDP Growth 4.14%
Average CPI 8.6%
Trade Balance $-999 mln
Exports $2.064 bln
Imports $3.063 bln
WeeklyApril 16, 2015
Reserves $16.818 bln