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Japan former wrestler headed for North Korea: aide TOKYO: A Japanese professional wrestler-turned-lawmaker will visit North Korea next week, his secretary said Thursday, as attention was focused on the Pyongyang antics of eccentric ex-basketball star Dennis Rodman.Antonio Inoki is a frequent visitor to the reclusive communist state. During his last trip in November, he met Jang Song-Thaek, the uncle of young leader Kim Jong-Un who was purged and executed last month.Inoki, an opposition member of the upper house, is head of a non-profit organisation aimed at establishing sports-based exchanges, which opened an office in Pyongyang last month."We don't know until we arrive there who the senator will meet with -- that was always the case in his past visits to North Korea," his secretary said."His talks with North Korean senior officials are likely to take up diplomacy through sports, and the possibility of other Japanese parliamentarians visiting the country," he said.Former NBA star Rodman on Wednesday publicly sang ...

Australian PM defends secrecy over border protection SYDNEY: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott defended the government's secrecy over its border protection policy Thursday after reports that boats had been turned back to Indonesia and asylum-seekers mistreated.Under the conservative government's hardline Operation Sovereign Borders, officials refuse to discuss "operational matters".This has meant reports that at least one boat was forcibly turned or towed back to Indonesia, and that members of the Australian navy subjected those on board to verbal and physical mistreatment, have ...
Iran filming marred when 'TNT blast' kills 5 crew TEHRAN: An accidental blast killed five special effects crew of an Iranian film when real-life explosives detonated as they were being delivered to the set Wednesday, media reported.Two other crew were hurt in the explosion, in a car transporting the material to the set, some 30 kilometres (18 miles) southwest of Tehran, the ISNA news agency reported.The Mehr news agency said the explosives were TNT.A member of the movie industry's special effects union, Abbas Shoghi, ...
Sri Lanka to change inflation index COLOMBO: Sri Lanka will change the basket of items in its inflation index and broaden coverage to the whole nation from just the capital city, the state-run statistics office said on Wednesday. Officials said the index change the third in seven years had long been in the works. However, the move also comes at a time when the country's economic data has faced scrutiny, with calls for revisions from the International ...
Development ravages Malaysia's 'Little England' TANAH RATA: On a Malaysian ridge-top, R. Ramakrishnan scans a rugged landscape famed in British colonial times as a fresh-aired slice of England in the tropics, but he sees a paradise lost.Illegal farms covered in unsightly plastic sheeting stretch into the distance along the steep slopes of the Cameron Highlands as bulldozers mow down nearby forests."Everyone is grabbing land. There is a free-for-all," the local environmental activist said as chainsaws growled.Perched more than 1,000 metres ...
North Korea to hold parliamentary vote in March SEOUL: North Korea announced Wednesday elections to its rubber-stamp parliament in March, the first under leader Kim Jong-Un as he seeks to cement his grip on power after purging his uncle.The presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) decided the election -- held every five years -- would take place on March 9, the North's official KCNA news agency said. The last parliamentary vote -- a highly staged process with only one approved candidate standing ...
Japan scrambles jets against China plane TOKYO: Japan scrambled fighter jets on Tuesday to head off a Chinese government plane flying towards disputed islands in the East China Sea, Tokyo's defence ministry said.It is the first such incident to be announced by the ministry since China created its new air defence identification zone (ADIZ) in November last year, which has stoked tensions in the region. The Chinese Y-12 propeller plane flew into Japan's own ADIZ, about 160 kilometres (99 miles) from ...

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Foreign Debt $61.805bn
Per Cap Income $1,386
GDP Growth 4.14%
Average CPI 8.6%
Trade Balance $-19.98 bln
Exports $25.13 bln
Imports $45.11 bln
WeeklyOctober 27, 2014
Reserves $13.464 bln