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Australia PM says warships could be moved north

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd Tuesday said key naval assets could be relocated north to adapt to a changing security landscape and put personnel nearer to their fields of operation. Rudd, facing national polls on September 7, said moving Sydney Harbour's Garden Island base to Queensland in the east and Western Australia could improve the nation's ability to sustain operations in the Asia-Pacific. "Our national security challenges of the future lie to our north-east, to our north, and to our north-west," the Labor leader said in a foreign policy speech.

Australia urges Syria to allow inspections

Indications "point strongly" to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Sunday as he urged Damascus to allow UN inspectors access to investigate. Rudd said following reports that more than 350 people had died from possible chemical weapons near Damascus last week, it was up to the Syrian regime to prove it had no hand in it. "The government's assessment is that the indications point strongly in the direction of the use of chemical weapons," Rudd told a press conference in Canberra.

Australia's jobless rate steady at 5.7%

Australia's unemployment rate held steady at 5.7 percent in July but the economy shed 10,200 jobs in further signs of a major mining slowdown unwelcome to ruling Labor's re-election hopes. The Australian Bureau of Statistics said the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was unchanged last month, beating expectations of a spike to 5.8 percent. But the overall picture was worse than forecast by analysts, with the mining-powered economy shedding more than 10,000 jobs instead of adding some 6,000 positions as had been flagged by the market.

Australia stocks jump but traders discount Rudd effect

Australian stocks jumped 1.68 percent Thursday but analysts said it had little to do with the shock return of Kevin Rudd as prime minister and more about movements on Wall Street. At the close, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 was 79.6 points higher at 4,811.3 after Rudd was sworn in as the country's new leader following a dramatic Labor leadership ballot on Wednesday.

Australia seeks answers from Israel on 'Prisoner X'

Canberra said Sunday it was seeking answers from Israel over the death in 2010 of an Australian known as "Prisoner X" in a Tel Aviv jail as part of its own probe into the case. Foreign Minister Bob Carr said his office was preparing a formal report into the circumstances surrounding the death of the prisoner, identified in Australian media as Ben Zygier, 34, who Israel says committed suicide.
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