Yahoo (International News)
· Obama reaffirms commitment to Japan on tour of Asia allies
By Mark Felsenthal and Linda Sieg TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama assured ally Japan on Thursday that Washington was committed to its defense, including of tiny isles at the heart of a row with China, but denied he had drawn any new "red line" and urged peaceful dialogue over the islands. His comments drew a swift response from China, which said the disputed islets were Chinese territory. Obama also urged Japan to take "bold steps" to clinch a two-way trade pact seen as crucial to a broad regional agreement that is a central part of the U.S. leader's "pivot" of military, diplomatic and economic resources towards Asia and the Pacific. U.S. and Japanese trade negotiators failed to resolve differences in time for Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to shake hands on a deal at the summit.
· Boy and girl on Korean ferry tied life jackets together before they drowned
By James Pearson and Meeyoung Cho SEOUL (Reuters) - A boy and girl trapped in a sinking South Korean ferry with hundreds of other high school students tied their life jacket cords together, a diver who recovered their bodies said, presumably so they wouldn't float apart. Almost 250 teenagers and teachers at the school have died or are presumed dead.
· Thai opposition leader seeks compromise to avert bloodshed
By Amy Sawitta Lefevre BANGKOK (Reuters) - Alarmed by the prospect of bloodshed in Thailand as a six-month political crisis nears a critical juncture, former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has called for talks between the government and its foes, urging compromise to restore stability. The 49-year-old leader of Thailand's main opposition Democrat Party has joined street demonstrations in Bangkok aiming to force out Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, and his party boycotted a February 2 election, which was nullified by a court in March after widespread disruption. My intention, this week, is to say that: isn't it time we all accept the reality that neither side can get its way, and even if it did, it couldn't bring long-lasting stability." The protests, which attracted more than 200,000 people at their height, have dwindled but hard-core demonstrators say they will continue to harass the government and disrupt any new election until Yingluck's government is toppled. Abhisit's comments were met with skepticism by the government.
· U.S. would reassess aid if Hamas-PLO form government - official
The United States would have to reconsider its assistance to the Palestinians if Islamist group Hamas and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) form a government together, a senior U.S. administration official said on Thursday. "Any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognition of the state of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations between the parties," the official said, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity. "If a new Palestinian government is formed, we will assess it based on its adherence to the stipulations above, its policies and actions, and will determine any implications for our assistance based on U.S. law," the official said. The Gaza-based Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's PLO announced a unity pact on Wednesday, deepening a crisis in U.S.-brokered peace talks with Israel.
· Three Americans killed in Kabul hospital attack: U.S. embassy
KABUL (Reuters) - Three Americans were killed on Thursday when a security guard opened fire at an international hospital in the Afghan capital Kabul, the U.S. embassy said, in the latest of a series of attacks against foreign civilians in the country. "We can confirm three Americans were killed," said an embassy official, without providing further details. An interior ministry official said at least one other person, a female nurse, was wounded. (Reporting by Jeremy Laurence and Hamid Shalizi; Editing by Kim Coghill)
· At least three foreigners killed in attack at Kabul hospital: security sources
KABUL (Reuters) - At least three foreigners were killed when a security guard opened fire at an international hospital in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Thursday, Afghan security sources said. The attack occurred in the grounds of the Cure Hospital, which specializes in children's medicine and is located in Kabul's west. No further details were immediately available. (Reporting by Hamid Shalizi; Writing by Jeremy Laurence; Editing by Paul Tait)
· Ukraine troops take checkpoint north of Slaviansk
KHRESTYSHCHE, Ukraine (Reuters) - Ukrainian troops with five light armored vehicles took control of a checkpoint north of Slaviansk on Thursday after pro-Russian separatists appeared to abandon the position, Reuters journalists said from the scene. When the armored unit approached along a road from Sviatogorsk, which Ukraine's government said it recaptured on Wednesday, militants set up a smokescreen of burning tires. Within half an hour, the Ukrainian force was in control of the position near the village of Khrestyshche. No shots were heard. ...
· Obama poised for new sanctions on Russia if no progress on Ukraine
By Mark Felsenthal and Alissa de Carbonnel TOKYO/DONETSK, Ukraine (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama said on Thursday he was poised to impose new sanctions on Moscow if it does not act fast to end an armed stand-off in Ukraine, but there was a first, tentative sign that pro-Russian separatists were ceding ground. Under an international accord signed in Geneva last week, illegal armed groups in Ukraine, including the pro-Russian rebels occupying about a dozen public buildings in the east of the country, are supposed to disarm and go home. In what has become the worst stand-off between Russia and the West since the Cold War, Washington accuses Moscow of fomenting unrest in Ukraine's east.
· China splurging on military as US pulls back
QINGDAO, China (AP) — China's navy commissioned 17 new warships last year, the most of any nation. In a little more than a decade, it's expected to have three aircraft carriers, giving it more clout than ever in a region of contested seas and festering territorial disputes.
· Bomb kills 4 in Pakistan; airstrikes hit militants
KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — A bombing in southern Pakistan killed a police officer known for his anti-militant campaigns and three other people on Thursday while army officials said the Pakistani air force carried out airstrikes against insurgents in a northwestern tribal region, killing 16 militants.
· N fund pays $990 million in Kuwait compensation
GENEVA (AP) — GENEVA (AP) — A U.N. panel that settles claims for damages resulting from Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait has paid out another $990 million.
· Hanyu determined to build on success of Sochi
TOKYO (AP) — Yuzuru Hanyu has barely had time to dwell on the Olympic and world titles he won in the first quarter of 2014, yet he's already thinking about how to improve for next season.
· Canon sees profit gain on weak yen, rising sales
TOKYO (AP) — Japanese camera and office equipment maker Canon Inc. is reporting a hefty gain in profit for the first fiscal quarter, largely on a favorable exchange rate.
· US-Japan trade talks suspended without agreement
TOKYO (AP) — Talks between the United States and Japan on a Pacific Rim trade pact have halted for now without any resolution in sight, spoiling plans for a showcase deal during President Barack Obama's visit to Tokyo.
· F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone goes on trial in Germany
MUNICH (AP) — Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone went on trial Thursday in a bribery case that could threaten his grip on the sport.
· Saudi Arabia reports 2 more deaths from MERS virus
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia's health ministry says two more patients who became infected with a Middle East virus related to SARS have died, and that 13 others have contracted the virus.
· Afghan hospital guard kills 3 American doctors
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan says three doctors killed by an Afghan security guard at a Kabul hospital are American citizens.
· Global stocks higher, Tokyo drops on trade woes
TOKYO (AP) — Global shares were mixed with European shares getting an early boost Thursday, but stocks in Tokyo slipped after talks between Japan's prime minister and visiting President Barack Obama failed to finalize a trade agreement.
· Crusades fought, eBay bids sought for relics
ROME (AP) — Wars have been fought to obtain them. Medieval monks and modern-day bandits have pilfered them. Two millennia after the first Christian martyrs' blood stained Rome, the temptation of, and fascination with, religious relics endures. And the canonization of two well-loved popes, John Paul II and John XXIII, on Sunday is feeding a seemingly endless appetite for fresh relics.
· Top Asian News at 9:00 a.m. GMT
TOKYO (AP) — Accusing Russia of failing to live up to its commitments, President Barack Obama warned Moscow on Thursday that the United States has another round of economic sanctions "teed up" — even as he acknowledged those penalties may do little to influence Vladimir Putin's handling of the crisis in Ukraine. Obama's frank pessimism underscored the limits of Washington's ability to prevent Russia from stirring up instability in Ukraine's east and exerting influence over elections scheduled for next month in the former Soviet republic. A diplomatic accord that offered a glimmer of hope for a resolution to the tense dispute is crumbling, and Russia has warned of a firm response if the country's citizens or interests in Ukraine are attacked.
· Obama says more sanctions 'teed up' against Russia over Ukraine
U.S. President Barack Obama said on Thursday that more sanctions were "teed up" against Russia if it does not deliver on promises in an agreement in Geneva last week to ease tensions in Ukraine. "So far at least we have seen them not abide by the spirit or the letter of the agreement in Geneva," he said at a joint news conference after a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He said that Russia could avoid further sanctions by changing course but that the evidence so far had not left him hopeful that Moscow would do so. "There's always the possibility that Russia, tomorrow, or the next day, reverses its course and takes a different approach," he said.
· Russia expects Ukraine deal to be implemented soon: reports
Russia expects that an international agreement to defuse the Ukraine crisis will be implemented in practical steps, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying on Thursday. Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the European Union signed the deal in Geneva last week in a bid to resolve the worst crisis between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War but each side has since accused the other of failing to carry it out. "Russia expects that the Geneva accords will be implemented in practical actions in the near future," Russian news agencies quoted Lavrov as saying.
· Ukrainian troops dig in near Slaviansk - Reuters correspondent
Ukrainian troops were digging in to a new position a few miles from the separatist-held city of Slaviansk early on Thursday, a Reuters correspondent said. Dozens of soldiers in camouflage uniform, some wearing airborne patches, were setting up sandbag defenses around at least six BMD light armored vehicles and putting up a tent near a settlement called Malynivka, some 12 km (8 miles) south of Slaviansk on the main road to the regional capital Donetsk. The Ukrainian government has said it is launching a renewed "anti-terrorist operation" to retake towns and public buildings held by pro-Russian separatists if they do not disarm and leave under the terms of an accord with Russia made in Geneva a week ago that was also signed by the United States and the European Union. Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said troops repelled an overnight attack on a base at Artemivsk, 40 km (25 miles) southeast of Slaviansk by what he said was a force of about 70 led by Russian soldiers.
· Ukraine says army base attacked, town hall recovered
KIEV (Reuters) - The Ukrainian government said troops repelled an overnight raid on a base at Artemivsk, between Donetsk and Slaviansk, in eastern Ukraine on Thursday. A soldier was wounded in the attack by about 70 people who Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on Facebook were led by Russian soldiers. Casualty details for the attackers were not clear, he said. Avakov also said pro-Russian protesters had left the town hall in Mariupol, an industrial city on the Black Sea coast, and the mayor was back in his office - meeting the agreements made with Russia at a Geneva meeting a week ago. ...
· Minister warns foreign firms against leaving Russia over sanctions
Russia's Natural Resources Minister said on Thursday that the door would be closed to foreign companies working in Russia if they decide to leave the country over Ukraine-related sanctions. He also said that so far foreign companies had not signaled their desire to leave Russia, the world's top crude oil producer, over sanctions the West imposed after Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. "It is obvious that they won't return in the near future if they sever investment agreements with us, I mean there are consequences as well," Sergei Donskoi told reporters. "Russia is one of the most promising countries in terms of hydrocarbons production.
· Sudan seeks probe into killing of nationals in S.Sudan
Sudan called on Thursday for an investigation into the "assassination" of its nationals in a South Sudan oil town, where the UN has accused rebels of killing hundreds of civilians. "The foreign ministry condemns assassination of the Sudanese nationals in Bentiu and calls for urgent investigation", the official SUNA news agency said in an SMS alert. The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said on Monday that both South Sudanese and Sudanese -- some from Sudan's Darfur region -- were killed in "targeted killings" after rebels took Bentiu, the capital of South Sudan's oil-rich Unity state, from government forces last week. Civilians including children were also massacred at a church, hospital and an abandoned UN World Food Programme compound, it said.
· Retailers 'failing victims' a year after Bangladesh disaster
Savar (Bangladesh) (AFP) - Western fashion brands faced pressure Thursday to increase help for victims of the world's worst garment factory accident, as mass protests marked the one-year anniversary of the Bangladesh disaster that cost 1,138 lives. Thousands of people, some wearing funeral shrouds, staged demonstrations at the site of the now-infamous Rana Plaza factory complex outside the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, which collapsed last April 24 after a catastrophic structural failure. At least it would give us some consolation," said crying mother Minu Begum, clutching the photo of her missing daughter Sumi Begum, who worked at one of Rana Plaza's five factories. "Brands are failing workers a second time," Ineke Zeldenrust from the Amsterdam-based Clean Clothes Campaign said on Thursday.
· Japan Amari: U.S., Japan remain apart in trade deal
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari said on Thursday that the United States and Japan made progress in trade talks but did not reach a final deal. "This is not something we can reach a conclusion in a short period of time," Amari told reporters. (Reporting by Leika Kihara and Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Dominic Lau)
· US Embassy in Kabul confirms 3 doctors killed by Afghan hospital guard are American citizens
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — US Embassy in Kabul confirms 3 doctors killed by Afghan hospital guard are American citizens.
· Alstom shares jump amid talk of GE buyout
PARIS (AP) — Shares in French train and equipment manufacturer Alstom have spiked on reports that General Electric Co. is considering making a bid for the company.
· Local organizer of match-fixing syndicate jailed
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A Malaysian man who organized an international match-fixing syndicate involving Australian state football games in 2013 has been jailed for at least a year.
· New drug sales help boost Novartis Q1 profit
GENEVA (AP) — Strong new drug sales helped Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis AG report a 24 percent rise in first-quarter profit.
· Ukraine official: city hall cleared of protesters
DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Police have cleared the city hall in a southeastern Ukrainian city of the pro-Russia protesters who had been occupying it for over a week, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said Thursday as government forces appeared to be resuming operations in the east. Local police officials and protesters, however, presented quite another picture of what happened in the city of Mariupol.
· Oil prices recoup earlier losses on Ukraine woes
TOKYO (AP) — The price of oil rebounded Thursday on worries about tensions in Ukraine.
· Iraq: Suicide attack kills at least 10 people
BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi officials say a suicide attack on a police checkpoint south of the capital, Baghdad, has killed at least 10 people and wounded 18.
· UK police seek to halt Brits joining Syria rebels
LONDON (AP) — British police are launching a nationwide bid to prevent young people from traveling to Syria to take part in the fighting there.