Posted by: Chuck | November 23, 2013

Japan wants friends and Iran dealings BREAKING NEWS

Japan’s Abe Seeks Friends in Asia—but Not ChinaPrime Minister Shinzō Abe is the first Japanese premier to visit all 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. In late November, Emperor Akihito will make the first visit by a Japanese monarch to India. Not on either dignitary’s itinerary—China. And that’s no accident. Abe, a foreign-policy hawk who’s clashed with the Chinese over the ownership of some Japanese-controlled islands, wants to shore up relations with the swath of nations forming a semicircle around China. Some have their own beefs, including India, which shares a disputed border with China. Abe will visit India next year, and in mid-December will host Asean leaders. It’s all part of his campaign to thwart China’s rulers, who, as he wrote in a column last December, see the South China Sea as “Lake Beijing.”

US eyes increase in Arctic operations – The U.S. military is looking for ways to expand operations in the vast waters of the Arctic as melting ice caps open sea lanes and other nations such as Russia compete for the lucrative oil and gas deposits. But the effort will take money and resources to fill the broad gaps in satellite and communications coverage, add deep-water ports and buy more ships that can withstand the frigid waters or break through the ice. There are no cost or budget estimates yet. But by the end of this year, the Navy will complete plans that lay out what the U.S. needs to do to increase communications, harden ships and negotiate international agreements so that nations will be able to track traffic in the Arctic and conduct search-and-rescue missions when needed. En route to a security conference here Thursday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said climate change, energy resources and security issues revolving around the Arctic will continue to grow in importance, particularly as the melting ice opens a new polar sea lane.–politics.html

Hopes soar for Iran deal as Kerry heads to GenevaHopes soared Saturday for a breakthrough in nuclear talks between Iran and world powers as US Secretary of State John Kerry and other foreign ministers flocked to Geneva to try to clinch a deal. It is be the second time in two weeks that Kerry and other top diplomats will hunker down in a smart Geneva hotel after intensive talks that ultimately failed shortly after midnight there on November 10. Kerry decided to go back for another try “in light of the progress being made” and “with the hope that an agreement will be reached”, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said Friday. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov already arrived in the Swiss city on Friday afternoon. Kerry was expected to arrive on Saturday morning Geneva time.

Al Qaeda affiliate captures Syrian town on border with Turkey: activistsAn al Qaeda affiliate has captured a northern Syrian town on the border with Turkey after ousting a moderate Islamist rebel unit and detained its leader, activists said on Thursday. The fall of the town of Atma, which is a crossing point for weapons and for Syrian rebels, signals disarray among some of the rebel groups, which are ceding ground to hard line Islamist units. Some of these groups are now playing a lesser role on the battlefield in the war against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, opposition sources said.

UN court orders Russia to release Greenpeace ship, crewAn international maritime court Friday ordered Russia to immediately release a Greenpeace protest ship and its 30-strong crew seized mid-September in exchange for a 3.6-million-euro ($4.9-million) bond. The German-based International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, based in the northern port city of Hamburg, also called on Moscow to allow the detainees and vessel to leave Russia on receipt of the bond. The ruling by the tribunal, established by the United Nations to help settle maritime disputes between states, followed a complaint by the Netherlands. Russia did not attend the proceedings and immediately after the ruling declared that the case fell outside the court’s jurisdiction.



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