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China stresses need for stability at first meeting of new security council

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping held the first meeting of a new national security commission on Tuesday, saying China needed a coordinated approach to domestic and foreign challenges, including social unrest, in "the most complex time in history". China announced the formation of the commission in November at the end of a key party meeting to map out reforms.

Preview: Knicks at Nets

The New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets were both expected to represent the city in the NBA playoffs and carried lofty predictions into the 2013-2014 campaign. When the Nets host the Knicks in the final meeting between the city rivals on Tuesday, only one team will still have something for which to play. New York is closing out a disappointing playoff-less campaign while Brooklyn is battling for positioning in the Eastern Conference.

Preview: Knicks at Nets

The New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets were both expected to represent the city in the NBA playoffs and carried lofty predictions into the 2013-2014 campaign. When the Nets host the Knicks in the final meeting between the city rivals on Tuesday, only one team will still have something for which to play. New York is closing out a disappointing playoff-less campaign while Brooklyn is battling for positioning in the Eastern Conference.

India top court recognises transgenders as 'third gender'

India's highest court on Tuesday recognised a neutral gender that is neither male nor female, in a landmark ruling that paves the way for equal rights for several million transgenders and eunuchs. The Supreme Court also said transgenders should be granted access to social welfare schemes offered to other minority groups, in a judgement hailed by transgenders who suffer widespread discrimination. "Transgenders are citizens of this country and are entitled to education and all other rights," Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan told the court while handing down the ruling.

Tokyo governor to make 'city diplomacy' visit to Beijing

Tokyo's top local official said Tuesday he will visit Beijing this month at the invitation of its mayor, in an attempt by officials to heal Japan and China's bruised relations. Governor Yoichi Masuzoe, a former health minister who took office in February, will conduct a three-day trip as the guest of mayor Wang Anshun, the first Tokyo governor in 18 years to be invited.

CORRECTED: Philippines unveils new plan to fight persistent poverty

The Philippines Monday announced plans to spend more on infrastructure and introduce other reforms to try to lift millions out of poverty. The revised Philippine Development Plan sets more ambitious economic targets to address persistent concerns that poor Filipinos are not enjoying the benefits of the country's recent dramatic economic growth. Among the new targets is the lowering of the poverty incidence from 25.2 percent of the population in 2012 to 18.0 to 20.0 percent by 2016, economic officials said.

Diageo doubles bid for India's United Spirits, shares surge

Diageo launched on Tuesday a new $1.9-billion offer to take control of Indian whisky maker United Spirits as the British drinks giant chases expansion in emerging markets. The doubled offer worth 1.4 billion euros comes after Diageo was forced to settle for a lower stake in India's top spirits maker than it envisaged when investors rejected its 2012 tender bid as being too low. The news sent United Spirits' stock surging on the Bombay Stock Exchange by nearly 12 percent to 2,859.00 rupees.

UN urges action to reduce ethnic tensions in Ukraine

The United Nations urged the Ukrainian authorities Tuesday to take urgent measures to reduce ethnic tensions in eastern Ukraine, but said there was no evidence of widespread attacks against ethnic Russians. Moscow has repeatedly accused Ukraine's government of failing to protect the country's ethnic Russian minority, and used this to justify its annexation of Crimea. But a UN report said that "while there were some attacks against the ethnic Russian community, these were neither systematic nor widespread".

India top court recognises transgenders as 'third gender'

India's highest court ruled Tuesday that a person can be legally recognised as gender-neutral, a landmark judgement that raises hopes of an end to discrimination against several million transgenders and eunuchs. The Supreme Court also said transgenders should be included in government welfare schemes offered to other minority groups in a bid to pull them out of the impoverished margins of Indian society. "Transgenders are citizens of this country and are entitled to education and all other rights," Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan told the court while handing down the ruling.

Chinese gold demand may rise 20% by 2017: industry body

China's annual demand for gold could jump around 20 percent by 2017 as more of its increasingly wealthy population seek new ways to make money, the World Gold Council predicted on Tuesday. The forecast by the WGC comes after China became the world's largest gold-consuming nation in 2013, overtaking India. Annual demand for gold in the form of jewellery, coins and bars is set to hit "at least 1,350 tonnes by 2017", the WGC said in a report on China. That would represent a rise of nearly a fifth from the country's record consumption of 1,132 tonnes last year.
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