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Global military spending drops, led by US

World military expenditure fell in 2013 as the United States and other Western countries cut back, but spending in emerging economies grew, a Swedish think tank said on Monday. The 1.9 percent global decline followed a 0.4 percent drop in 2012, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said. "The increase in military spending in emerging and developing countries continues unabated," said Sam Perlo-Freeman, director of SIPRI's Military Expenditure Programme.

S. Korea, U.S., Japan lower bar for nuclear talks with N. Korea

BEIJING, April 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korea, the United States and Japan have agreed to lower the bar on conditions for resuming long-stalled nuclear talks with North Korea, a diplomatic source with knowledge of the matter said Monday, saying Pyongyang must show its sincerity through the same pledges it made in a scuttled aid-for-disarmament deal with the U.S. more than two years ago.

Abe to stress Japan-U.S. security roles at summit with Obama

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday he hopes that Japan and the United States will strengthen their security alliance when President Barack Obama visits Tokyo next week. At his summit with Obama expected on April 24, "I want to stress along with the president the significant roles played by the Japan-U.S. alliance for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific area," Abe told a group of U.S. lawmakers visiting Japan when they met at his office.

Survey finds majority of Malaysians distrust govt on MH370

More than half of Malaysians believe their government is hiding information about missing flight MH370, according to survey results released by a news portal Monday. Fifty-four percent of more than 1,000 people surveyed by Malaysia's leading independent polling firm said the government was not being transparent about the passenger jet's disappearance, the Malaysian Insider reported. Only 26 percent said they believed the government was being truthful on the Malaysia Airlines plane, while 20 percent were unsure, the news portal said.

India's opposition rules out major change to nuke policy

The head of India's opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), tipped to win ongoing national elections, has ruled out any change in the country's "no-first-use" nuclear weapons policy. The BJP sparked speculation about an end to the doctrine last week when its manifesto said that the party would "revise and update" India's policy. "The no-first-use policy for nuclear weapons was a well thought out stand... We don't intend to reverse it," BJP President Rajnath Singh told the Hindustan Times newspaper in an interview published Monday.

Algeria presidential campaign winds up with recriminations

Final campaign rallies were held for Algeria's presidential election on Sunday after the incumbent Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his only real rival Ali Benflis waged a war of words. The 77-year-old Bouteflika, despite ailing health and not even appearing in person on the campaign trail, remains favourite to win a fourth term in Thursday's poll in the North African nation. Presidential aides wound up the campaign on his behalf in Cherage, southwest of the capital, where they praised the "miracle" of Bouteflika taking Algeria "from darkness into light".

Shades of the Cold War at NATO HQ

The Ukraine crisis is turning the clock back 30 years for NATO and Russia with the return to propaganda methods and suspicions last seen during the Cold War. "NATO and Moscow have suddenly remembered they used to be the world's best worst enemies," said a Brussels-based officer at NATO's headquarters, speaking on condition of anonymity. "And our older colleagues are using the same reflexes they abandoned years ago," he added.

Reign of Algeria's Bouteflika marred by graft scandals

Corruption, a recurring scourge for Algeria, has risen to the forefront of public life during President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's rule, fuelled by soaring oil prices and an the explosion in imports. The judiciary has opened a graft probe centred on state-run energy giant Sonatrach, which has amassed nearly $700 billion in earnings since Bouteflika took office, with political leaders among those named in the investigation.

N. Korea vows Seoul will pay 'dear price' for insults

North Korea on Monday warned South Korea it would pay a "dear price" for recent criticisms of Pyongyang's nuclear programme and political system, saying they violated a no-slander agreement. The warning from the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) came days after Pyongyang blasted South Korean President Park Geun-Hye's proposals for Korean reunification as the "daydreams of a psychopath". Park was again the focus of the North's anger, with the CPRK denouncing comments she made during a recent tour of Europe.

New party seeks to shake up Greek politics, says founder

A new Greek political party that has catapulted to third place in the polls is hoping to overhaul the country's dysfunctional politics, its founder said Sunday. Former TV journalist Stavros Theodorakis said in interviews with Sunday newspapers that he wanted to break the rigid party-driven format of Greek politics. Launched in February his party To Potami -- 'river' in Greek -- already polls at up to 10 percent, enough to win third place in forthcoming European elections.
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