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West, Russia trade UN barbs over Ukraine rights report

Western diplomats called on Russia to stop interfering in Ukraine on Wednesday in a stormy Security Council meeting dominated by a row over a UN human rights report. The United States, Britain and France called on Moscow to refrain from getting involved in eastern Ukraine following the report, which said there was no evidence of widespread abuses of ethnic Russians in the region.

Japan to cut tariffs on Australian chicken, pork

Japan will apply a tariff-quota system on such products as chicken and pork from Australia to allow set quantities of imports with low duty rates under a bilateral free trade deal, the Japanese farm ministry announced Thursday. Tokyo and Canberra reached a substantive free trade agreement on April 7 after seven years of negotiations, but the details had not been announced.

Obama to visit Asia with commitment to region as main focus

U.S. President Barack Obama is set to visit Asia next week on a tour aimed at allaying any doubts about his commitment to the region. The trip, which will take him to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines, is unlikely to result in remarkable outcomes but taking clear positions on North Korea's nuclear programs and China's maritime presence should be a priority, commentators in Washington say.

Japan, U.S. trade ministers resume talks to bridge tariff gaps

Japan and the United States resumed their ministerial talks Wednesday trying to make progress in protracted negotiations over tariffs exceptions to a Pacific free trade pact. The ministerial meeting on the Trans-Pacific Partnership initiative was a follow-up session to the previous round in Tokyo last week in last-minute efforts to make headway prior to President Barack Obama's arrival in Japan on April 23.

Japan, U.S. trade ministers resume talks to bridge tariff gaps

Japan and the United States resumed their ministerial talks Wednesday trying to make progress in protracted negotiations over tariffs exceptions to a Pacific free trade pact. The ministerial meeting on the Trans-Pacific Partnership initiative was a follow-up session to the previous round in Tokyo last week in last-minute efforts to make headway prior to President Barack Obama's arrival in Japan on April 23.

NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 309 (April 17, 2014)

TOPIC OF THE WEEK (Part 1) Diplomatic efforts under way for resumption of six-party talks SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Amid prolonged tension on the Korean Peninsula, a flurry of diplomatic moves have been under way to resume the six-party talks to end North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Specifically, Seoul, Washington and Beijing are intensifying diplomatic efforts as they wrestle to rein in North Korea's nuclear threats and find middle ground in reopening the long-stalled six-nation forum.

Canada mum on contribution as NATO beefs up presence in eastern Europe

OTTAWA - NATO has laid out plans to beef up its presence in eastern Europe, and Canada is noticeably absent from the list of countries that have acknowledged they'll send military forces. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the alliance's secretary general, said Wednesday it will deploy additional air, sea and land forces to former East Bloc countries in response to the worsening crisis in Ukraine.

Nigerian military says most of abducted schoolgirls freed

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria's military said on Wednesday its forces had freed most of the schoolgirls abducted by Islamist Boko Haram militants, and were continuing the search for eight students still missing. "With this development, the Principal of the school has confirmed that only 8 of the students are still missing," armed forces spokesman Major General Chris Olukolade said in a statement sent to media. He did not specify exactly how many of the girls had been rescued, but said one of the "terrorists" involved in the abduction had been captured.

Spain evicts 7 illegal migrants from tiny island to Morocco

Spain on Wednesday sent back to Morocco seven sub-Saharan African migrants who arrived at an uninhabited Spanish island near the Moroccan coast on an inflatable boat, officials said. The migrants were spotted by Spanish soldiers on Tuesday shortly after they landed on Congress Island about four kilometres (2.5 miles) off Morocco. The soldiers gave the migrants food and water and they were returned to Morocco after medical checks determined they were in good health, the Spanish government's representative in Melilla, which is close to the island, said in a statement.

NATO to deploy more forces in eastern Europe

NATO said Wednesday it will deploy additional air, sea and land forces in eastern Europe in response to the worsening crisis in Ukraine and take further action if needed. "Today we have agreed a package of military measures," NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after a meeting of ambassadors of all 28 members of the transatlantic alliance. "We will have more planes in the air, more ships on the water... and more readiness on the land," he said, adding that NATO defence plans will be "reviewed and reinforced".
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