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Indonesia says reports of Australian spying 'mind-boggling'

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said Monday that reports of Australian spies targeting Indonesian officials during a trade dispute with the United States were "mind-boggling". Indonesia has been embroiled in trade disputes with the US over its exports of clove cigarettes and shrimp in recent years, and has lashed out at Canberra over previous allegations that it spied on the Indonesian president and other top officials.

Indonesia says reports of Australian spying 'mind-boggling'

Indonesia on Monday said reports that Australian spies targeted Indonesian officials during a trade dispute with the United States were "mind-boggling". "I find that a bit mind-boggling and a bit difficult how I can connect or reconcile discussion about shrimps and how it impacts on Australia's security," said Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, referring to claims in a weekend report in the New York Times. Indonesia has been embroiled in trade disputes with the US over its exports of clove cigarettes and shrimp in recent years. aa-sr/pj

EU sounds out Turkish 'contribution' to C.Africa mission

The European Union has asked Turkey to contribute to a military mission to help end sectarian unrest in the Central African Republic, a Turkish official said Sunday. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton wrote a letter to Ankara on Friday asking about the prospects of Turkish assistance, the official told AFP on condition of anonymity. The request came on the same day as the EU and France pledged to sharply increase troop deployments to the country amid mounting concern over spiralling Muslim-Christian violence that has already left thousands dead.

France to send 400 more troops to Central African Republic

By James Regan and Michelle Nichols PARIS/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - France said on Friday it plans to send another 400 troops to help combat a crisis in the Central African Republic as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon pleaded for more swift, robust international help to stop sectarian violence that could turn into a genocide.

Act now to halt Central Africa atrocities: UN's Ban

The international community must act swiftly to halt bloodshed in the Central African Republic, United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon said Friday, warning that unchecked atrocities and sectarian cleansing could lead to decades of conflict. The UN Secretary-General said that parts of the strife-torn country with no history of violence were being drawn into the conflict, and entire Muslim communities had fled in what has been described as an "exodus of historic scale."

N. Korea's food situation better a tad in 2013: WFP

SEOUL, Feb. 14 (Yonhap) -- The food situation for North Korean people improved slightly last year thanks to increased food rations and more outside support, a report by the World Food Programme (WFP) said Friday. According to the WFP report, about 46 percent of North Korean families consumed an "acceptable" level of essential nutrients in the October-December period of 2013. About 17 percent were categorized as having "poor" food consumption, while the rest, about 38 percent, were defined as at the "borderline" level.

France in race to find troops for EU C.Africa mission

The race is on to find hundreds of troops for the EU's military mission in the troubled Central African Republic, the French head of the operation said Thursday. "We are working with a sense of urgency," said General Philippe Ponties who took up his post as the mission chief for the force earlier this week. The objective is to deploy the first soldiers "as quickly as possible" in the capital Bangui to help French and African Union troops already there, Ponties said. "But at this stage, there are still many unknowns," he added.

UN chief warns of 'partition' in C.Africa

UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned Tuesday that the strife-torn Central African Republic could split into two as he urged the global community to do more to prevent further atrocities there. "The sectarian brutality is changing the country's demography," Ban Ki-moon told reporters. "The de facto partition of the C.A.R. is a distinct risk." The impoverished former French colony descended into chaos last March after rebels overthrew the government, sparking deadly Christian-Muslim violence that has uprooted a million people.

ICC prosecutor to probe 'serious crimes' in C.Africa

International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said Friday she has opened an initial probe into "serious crimes" committed in the Central African Republic, the scene of spiralling sectarian violence. "My office has reviewed many reports detailing acts of extreme brutality... and allegations of serious crimes being committed. I have therefore decided to open a preliminary investigation into this... situation," she said in a statement in The Hague.

Vatican violating UN child rights convention: watchdog head

The Vatican has violated the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child by failing to stamp out sexual abuse, the head of an international watchdog body said Wednesday. "The simple answer is yes, they are in breach of the Convention as up to now, because they haven't done all the things that they should have done," said Kirsten Sandberg, head of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Sandberg's comments came after the committee issued a damning report on the Vatican's implementation of the 1989 UN convention on child rights.
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