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William and Kate voice sorrow at Solomons floods

Britain's Prince William and his wife Catherine expressed their sorrow Friday at deadly flooding in the Solomon Islands, where the royal couple took an idyllic tropical break in 2012. More that 20 people were killed when flash flooding tore through the Pacific nation's capital Honiara last week, sweeping away entire communities and leaving thousands homeless. The royal couple, who are currently on a tour of New Zealand, offered their sympathies to the Solomons, where William's grandmother Queen Elizabeth II is head of state.

Australia eyes Cambodia as asylum-seeker host

Australia's Immigration Minister Scott Morrison made an unannounced visit to Cambodia on Friday, raising speculation that Phnom Penh will join Papua New Guinea and Nauru in helping resettle asylum-seekers. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said talks between Morrison and Cambodian officials represented the countries "staying in touch" as partners against people-smuggling. "Whether Cambodia were to accept people is really a matter for Cambodia, but the point is people-smuggling is a regional problem," he told reporters.

Six dead, 10,500 homeless as floods devastate Solomons

Flash flooding killed at least six people and left 10,500 homeless in the Solomon Islands' capital Honiara on Friday, with another 30 missing and the death toll set to rise, officials said. The government declared a state of emergency after the city's main river, the Matanikau, burst its banks late Thursday, sweeping away entire communities, bringing down bridges and inundating the downtown area. "This is the worst disaster the nation has seen," the Solomons Star newspaper said.

'Noah' swept to the top in North America's theatres

"Noah," the big screen adaptation of the biblical tale with Russell Crowe in the lead, took top honors at North American box offices on its debut weekend, industry data showed Monday. The action drama, which reunites Crowe with Jennifer Connelly whom he starred alongside in "A Beautiful Mind" in 2001, earned $43.7 million, box office tracker Exhibitor Relations said. It easily held off last week's top earner "Divergent," which took second spot with $25.6 million.

Vietnam veteran is Queen's new envoy in Australia

Former military chief Peter Cosgrove became Australia's governor-general Friday, vowing to uphold the values of equity and compassion as British Queen Elizabeth II's representative in the country. Cosgrove, now Sir Peter after Prime Minister Tony Abbott this week revived the honours system, said he would be bipartisan and attend to matters which sat within Australian values. "Values that respect, and uphold equity, compassion, generosity, tolerance and energetic ambition," he said.

Vietnam veteran is Queen's new envoy in Australia

Former military chief Peter Cosgrove became Australia's governor-general Friday, vowing to uphold the values of equity and compassion as British Queen Elizabeth II's representative in the country. Cosgrove, now Sir Peter after Prime Minister Tony Abbott this week revived the honours system, said he would be bipartisan and attend to matters which sat within Australian values. "Values that respect, and uphold equity, compassion, generosity, tolerance and energetic ambition," he said.

Russell Crowe slates Rio's traffic chaos

Ten weeks before the city expects to welcome throngs of World Cup fans, Hollywood star Russell Crowe slated Rio's chaotic traffic during a visit to promote biblical epic Noah. Although happy to visit Brazil, Crowe admitted he found the traffic a challenge -- not least as he braved the cars for a bicycle ride around the metropolis. "What I found was chaos," he told Broadcaster Globo's Fantastico program in an interview broadcast Sunday, adding that coming out of the airport the surrounding area was none too scenic.

CGames: Fiji back in Games fold for Glasgow

Fiji will compete in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July, sports officials said Saturday, ending years of isolation following a 2006 military coup. "I am delighted to welcome Fiji back into the Commonwealth Games family," Games Federation president Tunku Imran said. However, with the Games only four months away, Fiji Sports and National Olympic Committee chief executive Lorraine Marr said it would be up to individual sports to decide if they have sufficient time to prepare.

New Zealand break ranks to hike interest rates

New Zealand on Thursday became first advanced economy to raise interest rates since 2012, ending a three-year freeze imposed after the devastating Christchurch earthquake. In a widely anticipated move, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand lifted the official cash rate (OCR) 0.25 points to 2.75 percent and said it planned more hikes in an economy that was growing with "considerable momentum".

New Zealand hikes rates as post-quake recovery kicks in

New Zealand on Thursday became first advanced economy to raise interest rates since 2012, ending a three-year freeze imposed after the devastating Christchurch earthquake. In a widely anticipated move, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand hiked the official cash rate (OCR) 0.25 points to 2.75 percent, saying it no longer needed to be kept at a record low because the economy's expansion "has considerable momentum".
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