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China to open new areas to private investors

China will launch 80 new pilot projects allowing private investment in areas previously dominated by state-run firms, official media reported on Wednesday. The report follows an earlier Communist Party pledge to let markets play a greater role in allocating capital, seen as a key step towards rebalancing the world's second-largest economy to ensure sustainable growth.

N. Korea finally offers condolences over ferry tragedy

More than a week after a South Korean ferry carrying 476 people capsized and sank, North Korea finally voiced its condolences Wednesday for the victims of the disaster, including the many schoolchildren who died. The message was sent between the two Koreas' Red Cross organisations who regularly handle official cross-border communications, the South's Unification Ministry said. "The North said in the message that it conveys deep condolences that so many passengers, including young students, died or went missing due to the sinking of the ferry Sewol," the ministry said.

N. Korea finally offers condolences over ferry tragedy

More than a week after a South Korean ferry carrying 476 people capsized and sank, North Korea finally voiced its condolences Wednesday for the victims of the disaster, including the many schoolchildren who died. The message was sent between the two Koreas' Red Cross organisations who regularly handle official cross-border communications, the South's Unification Ministry said. "The North said in the message that it conveys deep condolences that so many passengers, including young students, died or went missing due to the sinking of the ferry Sewol," the ministry said.

Mali denounces 'cowardly murder' of French hostage

Mali has denounced as a "cowardly and despicable murder" the death of a French hostage announced by one of the west African nation's top jihadist groups. The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), a splinter group of Al-Qaeda's regional branch, told AFP on Tuesday Gilberto Rodrigues Leal was "dead, because France is our enemy" although it did not explicitly spell out that the Frenchman had been murdered. The Malian government released a statement hours later voicing sorrow for Rodrigues Leal's death and vowing to help in the hunt for his killers.

U.S. notes possibility of N. Korean nuke test any time

By Lee Chi-dong WASHINGTON, April 22 (Yonhap) -- While South Korea's military made public some sensitive intelligence on North Korea's activity at its nuclear test site, the U.S. government maintained a cautious approach, at least outwardly. Speaking formally to reporters, U.S. officials did not rule out the possibility of another nuclear test by the unpredictable communist regime. But they would not reveal specific information.

Bolivian sergeants strike, march in La Paz

Bolivian sergeants marched through La Paz Tuesday in a peaceful protest against the sacking of four non-commissioned officers and alleged discrimination by the military's high command. About 2,000 sergeants from all services turned out for the protest in uniform and signing marching songs as they paraded through downtown La Paz, while a group of military wives went on hunger strike. They have declared an "indefinite strike in all barracks of the country," said Johnny Gil, head of the national association of non-commissioned officers.

UK tourist recounts 'hellish' time in Sri Lanka over Buddha tattoo

A 37-year-old British nurse recounted Tuesday her "hellish" experience in Sri Lanka after she was arrested and sent to a deportation centre for sporting a Buddha tattoo deemed offensive by authorities. Naomi Coleman was arrested at the country's main international airport on Monday shortly after her arrival on a flight from neighbouring India and appeared before a magistrate who ordered her deportation, police said in a statement.

N. Korea slams South Korean lawmaker over ferry disaster remarks

SEOUL, April 22 (Yonhap) -- North Korea accused a South Korean ruling party lawmaker Tuesday of attempting to capitalize on last week's deadly sinking of a passenger ferry to create anti-Pyongyang sentiment. Rep. Han Ki-ho of the ruling Saenuri Party has come under fire for a Facebook post written on Sunday as desperate search efforts were under way for those missing from the ferry Sewol that sank off South Korea's southwestern coast on Wednesday.

Death toll in Korea ferry disaster crosses 100

The confirmed death toll from South Korea's ferry disaster crossed 100 Tuesday, as dive teams, under growing pressure from bereaved relatives, accelerated the grim task of recovering hundreds more bodies from the submerged vessel. Improved weather conditions and calm seas spurred their efforts, but underwater visibility was still very poor, requiring divers to grope their way blindly though the corridors and cabins of the ferry that capsized and sank last Wednesday.

S. Korea's railway chief makes rare train travel to N. Korea

BEIJING, April 21 (Yonhap) -- The chief of South Korea's state-run railway company boarded an international rail and headed for North Korea on Monday, making a rare train travel to Pyongyang from Beijing to attend an international conference concerning transport between Europe and Asia. Choi Yeon-hye, president and CEO of the Korea Railroad Corp. (KORAIL), and four other officials got visas from the North Korean Embassy in Beijing shortly after arriving here from South Korea earlier in the day, according to one of the KORAIL officials.
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