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Minister concerned by Russian military flights near Japan

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera on Sunday expressed concern over Russian military planes spotted flying close to Japan for seven days in a row, calling them "abnormal flights not seen in the Cold War era." "We will continue to monitor closely" the Russian aircraft, Onodera told reporters at an Air Self-Defense Force base in Naha in southern Japan's Okinawa Prefecture.

Early warning patrol plane unit launched at ASDF base in Okinawa

A unit operating E-2C early warning patrol planes was newly launched Sunday at an Air Self-Defense Force base in Naha in southern Japan's Okinawa Prefecture to bolster monitoring following repeated intrusions of Japan's territorial waters by Chinese vessels. Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told ASDF members at a ceremony commemorating the launch of the unit that they face "a dangerous situation" as continual attempts by China to "change the status quo by force and threaten the rule of law could trigger emergencies."

U.S. agrees to return ancient Korean seals in Obama's trip to Seoul

SEOUL, April 20 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. government has agreed to return a set of Korean national treasures, shipped out of here by an American soldier during the 1950-53 Korean War, when President Barack Obama visits South Korea this week, Seoul said Sunday. Obama is expected to arrive in Seoul on Friday for a two-day official visit, following a three-day stay in Tokyo.

U.S. agrees to return ancient Korean seals in Obama's trip to Seoul: source

SEOUL, April 20 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. government has agreed to return a set of Korean national treasures, shipped out of here by an American soldier during the 1950-53 Korean War, when President Barack Obama visits Seoul this week, a government source said Sunday. Obama is expected to arrive in Seoul on Friday for a two-day official visit, following a three-day stay in Tokyo. "Washington has almost agreed to return the nine ancient Korean seals to Seoul on the occasion of Obama's visit to Seoul," the source said.

N. Korean leader slams S. Korea-U.S. air drill

SEOUL, April 20 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has blasted South Korea and the United States for their largest-ever air exercise, calling it a threat against peace on the Korean Peninsula, Pyongyang's official media said Sunday. On April 11, Seoul and Washington launched the annual Max Thunder exercise meant to boost their air defense capability. The drill, which involves about 103 warplanes and some 1,400 pilots from the two allies, will run through Friday.

Sudanese militants kill two, kidnap three at oil field

CAIRO (Reuters) - Armed militants killed two security staff and kidnapped a Chinese, an Algerian and a Sudanese worker in an attack on an oil field in Sudan's West Kordofan state, army spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khalid Sa'ad said on Saturday. Security forces are still tracing the perpetrators, he added. West Kordofan is the main oil-producing state in Sudan. It has faced several attacks by armed militants attempting to disrupt production.

High stakes as restive Benghazi votes in Libyan local polls

BENGHAZI (Reuters) - Libyan voters went to the polls on Saturday to elect municipal council members in 15 cities, including Benghazi, the country's second city, which is seeking greater autonomy for the eastern seaboard region. With 41 more municipalities due to vote in the next three weeks, the elections pose an organizational and security challenge for a country that is still riven by factional fighting, nearly three years after the civil war that toppled veteran ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

Egypt satirist goes off air to avoid influencing voters

Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef stay off the air until after next month's presidential election to avoid influencing voters, his television network said on Saturday. The May 26-27 vote is widely expected to be won by former army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who is riding a wave of popularity after ousting Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

Egypt satirist goes off air to avoid influencing voters

Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef will stay off the air until after next month's presidential election to avoid influencing voters, his television network said on Saturday. The May 26-27 vote is widely expected to be won by former army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who is riding a wave of popularity after ousting Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

Abe, Obama to say will not tolerate bid to alter status quo by force

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama plan to declare in a summit Thursday the two allies will not tolerate any attempt to alter the status quo by force or coercion, a move aimed at keeping China and Russia in check, sources involved in bilateral relations said Saturday.
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