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China angered by U.S. environment chief's visit to Taiwan

BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Tuesday it had lodged a protest with the United States over a visit by Washington's environmental protection chief to self-ruled Taiwan this week. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Gina McCarthy's visit is the first by a cabinet-level official since 2000, according to Taiwan's presidential office. Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou met her on Monday. McCarthy was visiting to highlight environmental cooperation between the United States and partners in the Asia-Pacific region.

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.

Owner of collapsed Bangladesh factory faces murder charges

Bangladesh police said Tuesday they will press murder charges against the owner of a nine-storey building that collapsed and killed 1,135 garment workers last April, the worst industrial disaster in the country's history. Sohel Rana, owner of the Rana Plaza factory complex on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka, was one of around 40 people who would be charged in connection with the disaster, said lead investigator Bijoy Krishna Kar.

Sudan's president bans political party meetings

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has issued a decree banning political parties from holding meetings without permission from the authorities, the official SUNA news agency reported. The decree comes just a week after Bashir assured a meeting of party leaders they had freedom to operate in the run-up to a "national dialogue" he has promised to hold to address urgent demands for change in his 25-year regime.

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.

Gunmen kidnap Jordan envoy to Libya

Masked gunmen kidnapped Jordan's ambassador as he travelled to work in the Libyan capital on Tuesday, shooting at his car and wounding his driver, the Tripoli and Amman governments said. It is the latest incident in which Libyan leaders and foreign diplomats have been targeted in the increasingly lawless North African country, three years after NATO-backed rebels ousted autocratic leader Moamer Kadhafi.

One S. Korean sailor missing in Somalia

By Kim Eun-jung SEOUL, April 15 (Yonhap) -- One Navy petty officer dispatched to a South Korean contingency in Somalia went missing during an escort mission in the Gulf of Aden on Tuesday, prompting a search operation, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said. The 22-year-old officer, identified only by his surname Ha, disappeared early Tuesday while a South Korean destroyer was escorting three ships to Port of Mukalla, Yemen, the JCS said.

Squatter's life for Italian poor despite recovery

Medina Mercedez lugs her possessions into the abandoned office space she now calls home, joining the growing ranks of Italy's poor forced to live in squats amid social misery despite a tentative economic recovery. Mercedez came to Italy from Ecuador 20 years ago but lost her job as a private nurse last year even as a painful two-year recession formally came to an end. She was evicted from her home along with her two teenage children.

Obama may return ancient Korean seals on upcoming trip to Seoul

WASHINGTON/SEOUL, April 15 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. government may return a set of Korean national treasures, shipped out of the country by an American soldier during the Korean War, when President Barack Obama visits Seoul next week, diplomatic sources here said Monday. "The two sides are in the final stage of consultations to complete relevant procedures," a source said. There is a possibility that the process will finish ahead of Obama's departure for Asia next Tuesday, added the source.

More rounds of talks likely on 'comfort women': S. Korea

South Korea's Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tuesday more rounds of talks are likely to be held between this country and Japan to discuss the issues related to Japan's wartime sexual enslavement of Korean women, following talks set for Wednesday in Seoul. "It would be the best if all issues on 'comfort women' are resolved by holding talks just one time, but, otherwise, it's necessary to hold more talks," Cho Tai Young said during a press briefing.
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