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Baltics mull joint TV channel to counter Kremlin's line

Europe's Baltic states are in talks to set up their own Russian-language television channel in a bid to counter the deluge of propaganda aimed at their ethnic Russian populations by Moscow-backed media. Numerous Russian-language media outlets already exist in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania but most emanate from Russia and toe its line on politics and history -- sensitive issues in a region that endured half a century of Soviet occupation.

Japan, China, S. Korea investment pact to take effect May 17

An investment pact involving Japan, China and South Korea aimed at promoting corporate investment will come into effect on May 17, the Foreign Ministry said Friday. The trilateral pact, the first such legal framework involving the three East Asian countries in the economic field, will take effect now that China has informed Japan that its internal procedures have been completed, according to a ministry official.

Japan, Mongolia oppose attempt to change status quo by force

Japanese and Mongolian defense ministers agreed Thursday to oppose any attempt to change the status quo by force, in light of China's claim to the Japan-administered islands and Russia's annexation of Crimea, southern Ukraine, Japan's Defense Ministry said. Meeting in Tokyo, Itsunori Onodera said Japan is calling for diplomatic solutions to those issues, while his Mongolian counterpart Bat-Erdene Dashdemberel said changing the status quo by force is unacceptable in any situation.

Japan, Mongolia oppose attempt to change status quo by force

Japanese and Mongolian defense ministers agreed Thursday to oppose any attempt to change the status quo by force, in light of China's claim to the Japan-administered islands and Russia's annexation of Crimea, southern Ukraine, Japan's Defense Ministry said. Meeting in Tokyo, Itsunori Onodera said Japan is calling for diplomatic solutions to those issues, while his Mongolian counterpart Bat-Erdene Dashdemberel said changing the status quo by force is unacceptable in any situation.

German, E. Europe presidents to mark overthrow of communism

Germany's president will join four of his eastern European counterparts for a five-nation tour marking 25 years since the Iron Curtain was peacefully torn down, his office said Tuesday. Joachim Gauck plans to visit five cities between June and November that played a key role in the 1989 revolution that brought an end to Europe's communist regimes, a spokeswoman told AFP. Together with the presidents of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, he will kick off the tour in Warsaw on June 4, followed by Budapest later that month.

In Mongolia, Hagel looks to bolster US military ties

Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel flew to Mongolia Thursday to endorse stronger military ties with a government eager for US partnership as a counterweight to its powerful neighbours, Russia and China. Hagel's trip to Mongolia, only the second by a US defence secretary and the first in nine years, will feature the signing of a "joint vision" statement between the two sides that calls for expanding military cooperation through joint training and assistance, US officials said.

Australia's Abbott faces tough mission on 'trifecta of trade' in Asia

By Maggie Lu Yueyang SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott wants to finalize a free trade agreement with Japan on his forthcoming North Asia trip, but will have to walk a fine line between Tokyo and Beijing over geopolitical tensions in the region. Abbott leaves for Japan on Saturday, kicking off a tour that also includes South Korea and China. China is Australia's top export market, followed by Japan and South Korea.

Australia's Abbott faces tough mission on 'trifecta of trade' in Asia

By Maggie Lu Yueyang SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott wants to finalize a free trade agreement with Japan on his forthcoming North Asia trip, but will have to walk a fine line between Tokyo and Beijing over geopolitical tensions in the region. Abbott leaves for Japan on Saturday, kicking off a tour that also includes South Korea and China. China is Australia's top export market, followed by Japan and South Korea.

Greek MPs adopt controversial bill tied to EU-IMF loans

Greece's parliament on Monday narrowly approved an omnibus bill of reforms tied to the country's next tranche of EU-IMF loans of at least 8.5 billion euros ($11.7 billion). Despite 11th hour attempts by the opposition to delay the vote, parties backing the government carried the tough articles that had caused dissent within the coalition partners by a majority of 152 to 135, the parliament speaker said. kan/od/gk

Cities and counties in Great Plains and Mountain West see growth from energy production

WASHINGTON - America's cities are still growing, with the population boom fueled by people picking up and moving to find jobs in energy production across the oil- and gas-rich areas west of the Mississippi River. New 2013 census information released Thursday shows that cities are the fastest-growing parts of the United States, and a majority of the metro areas showing that growth are located in or near the oil- and gas-rich fields of the Great Plains and Mountain West.
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