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Japan, Mongolia oppose attempt to change status quo by force

Japanese and Mongolian defense ministers agreed Thursday to oppose any attempt to change the status quo by force, in light of China's claim to the Japan-administered islands and Russia's annexation of Crimea, southern Ukraine, Japan's Defense Ministry said. Meeting in Tokyo, Itsunori Onodera said Japan is calling for diplomatic solutions to those issues, while his Mongolian counterpart Bat-Erdene Dashdemberel said changing the status quo by force is unacceptable in any situation.

Cut off from the world, Gazans consumed by poverty

By Noah Browning and Nidal al-Mughrabi GAZA (Reuters) - Life has never seemed so grim for the Mustafas, a family of seven cramped into a shabby two-room hovel in Gaza's Jabalya refugee camp. Seven years into an Israeli blockade and ten months into a crippling Egyptian one, Gaza's economic growth has evaporated and unemployment soared to almost 40 percent by the end of 2013.

Reporters charged with defamation remanded on bail in Thailand

By Amy Sawitta Lefevre PHUKET, Thailand (Reuters) - Two journalists were remanded on bail in Thailand on Thursday on charges of criminal defamation and other offences in connection with a story they published on the trafficking of Muslim minority Rohingya people from Myanmar. Alan Morison, an Australian, and Thai national Chutima Sidasathian published a story last July for the Phuketwan news website about Rohingya boat people who had fled Myanmar and were mostly trying to get to Malaysia.

Malaysian lawmaker who defended Anwar killed in car crash

A leading Malaysian politician who gained fame defending opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in his sensational sodomy trials was killed in a road accident on Thursday, police said. Karpal Singh, 73, died along with a longtime assistant when his vehicle collided with a lorry on a highway in the northern state of Perak in the early morning, said state police chief Acryl Sani Abdullah. Anwar said the news of Karpal's death came "like a lightning bolt". "Just last evening, I had had a lengthy chat with him," he said in a statement, expressing "profound sadness".

Saudi spy chief ousted under US pressure

The exit of Saudi's spy chief was the result of US pressure over his stance on Syria but does not signal a shift in Riyadh's goal of toppling the Damascus regime, experts say. Riyadh, as is usual, did not elaborate on its statement this week that Prince Bandar bin Sultan was being replaced, saying only that the veteran diplomat had asked to step down. But a Saudi expert said that Washington -- irritated for some time by Prince Bandar's handling of the Syria dossier -- had in December demanded his removal.

Chinese police shoot man dead at checkpoint in Xinjiang

BEIJING (Reuters) - Police in China's far-western region of Xinjiang have shot dead a man who drove through a security checkpoint, the local government said on Thursday, the latest violence to hit the troubled area with a large Muslim population. The man, Abdul Basiti Abdulimiti, was a "terrorist" from Keping county in Aksu prefecture, the Aksu government said on its website. It did not identify him as one of the mainly Muslim Uighur people who call the region home, but his name suggests he was.

Thailand charges reporters over Pulitzer-winning article

Two journalists, including an Australian editor, were ordered Thursday to stand trial in Thailand on defamation charges linked to a Pulitzer Prize-winning article alleging Thai military involvement in people smuggling. Alan Morison and his Thai colleague Chutima Sidasathian could face up to two years' imprisonment for defamation and five years for breaching the Computer Crimes Act if the court in Phuket finds them guilty.

Japan's Abe dubs China vital partner amid territorial disputes

By Kiyoshi Takenaka TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe criticized Beijing for trying to "change the status quo" with force in maritime disputes but said China was a vital economic partner, as a series of visits suggested a possible thaw in ties between the Asian rivals. Sino-Japanese ties have been strained by a territorial row over tiny disputed isles in the East China Sea and perceptions in Beijing that Abe wants to rewrite Japan's wartime history and tone down past apologies.

Bangladesh PM Hasina to visit Japan in late May

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is planning to visit Japan late next month to hold talks with Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, Japanese government sources said Thursday. According to the sources, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida invited Hasina to Japan during his visit to Bangladesh in March, a symbol of Japan's new commitment to Bangladesh as there is little precedent of continued high-level talks between the two countries within such a short period of time.

Kishida to postpone planned visit to Russia

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida has decided to postpone a visit to Russia planned for later this month, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday. The government has determined Kishida's trip, if realized as scheduled, could affect Japan's alliance with the United States, which has blamed Russia over growing unrest in eastern Ukraine, officials said.
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