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Australian PM calls leadership ballot CANBERRA: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard caved in to building pressure and called a leadership ballot of parliamentarians in her Labor party for later Thursday."I have determined that there will be a ballot for the leadership at 4.30pm (0530 GMT) today. In the meantime, take your best shot," she said in parliament, adding that the vote would also be for the deputy leadership.Her decision followed senior cabinet minister Simon Crean openly calling for a ballot, with leadership speculation rampant as Gillard lags badly in opinion polls just six months out from national elections.Crean said the speculation was "killing" the party as former leader Kevin Rudd waits in the wings and his backers campaign behind the scenes."He has got no option but to run," Crean said of Rudd. "We have to get on with the message and it has to become an inclusive party."Rudd was brutally ousted by Gillard in mid ...

Xi says China willing to help Korea BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping told his South Korean counterpart on Wednesday Beijing is willing to help "reconciliation" between Seoul and Pyongyang, China's foreign ministry said on its website."China is willing to provide the necessary assistance to advance South-North reconciliation and cooperation," Xi told Park Geun-Hye in a phone call, according to the ministry statement. China is the North's sole major ally.Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2013 ...
China president makes Russia first foreign stop BEIJING: China's Xi Jinping heads to Russia this week for his first diplomatic foray as president, reinforcing a relationship with Cold War roots which is now finding shared strategic and business interests.Xi, whose ascension last week completed China's power handover after he took the reins of the Communist Party in November, visits Moscow from Friday for talks with President Vladimir Putin.The two countries enjoy expanding commercial relations -- China is the world's biggest energy consumer ...
Seven rare Komodo dragons hatch in Indonesia SURABAYA: Seven Komodo dragons have hatched under a breeding programme at an Indonesian zoo, an official said Wednesday, a success story that raises hope for the endangered lizard.Twenty-one eggs from two Komodo dragons were placed in incubation at the Surabaya Zoo in eastern Java, the first batch in September and the second in October, with seven hatching on March 10."Some of the eggs from the first Komodo did not hatch, which is normal. We're hoping ...
Shanghai river dead pig total approaches 15,000 SHANGHAI: The number of dead pigs found in a river which runs through Shanghai had reached nearly 15,000, officials and reports said Tuesday, as a newspaper claimed the government was concealing the true tally.The images of dead pigs in China's commercial hub have proved a huge embarrassment for the city, which is seeking to become an international financial centre.Shanghai city workers retrieved 369 bodies from the Huangpu River on Monday, bringing the municipality's total to ...
Crippled Japan nuclear plant hit by power cut TOKYO: Engineers at Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant partially succeeded Tuesday in restarting cooling systems after a power cut underlined its still-precarious state two years after a tsunami struck. Equipment in pools used to keep used fuel cool necessary to prevent any spontaneous nuclear reactions lost their power supply at 7 pm (1000 GMT) on Monday, operator TEPCO said. By late Tuesday two of the cooling systems were back up, reports said. One other was ...
UN writes to Aquino over Philippines tobacco fair MANILA: The United Nations has expressed concern that the Philippines could encourage smoking by hosting one of the world's biggest tobacco trade shows, a health official said Tuesday. UN agencies in the Philippines have written to President Benigno Aquino citing Manila's treaty pledge to ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, World Health Organisation senior health adviser Eigil Sorensen said. The ProTobEx Asia show, described on its website as featuring the latest innovations in processing, cigarette ...

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Foreign Debt $60.9bn
Per Cap Income $1,368
GDP Growth 3.6%
Average CPI 7.5%
Trade Balance $-1.433 bln
Exports $2.167 bln
Imports $3.600 bln
WeeklyApril 14, 2014
Reserves $9.713 bln