SWIDWIN (Poland) (AFP) - The first American troops arrived in Poland Wednesday, after Washington said it was sending a force of 600 to the Baltic states as the crisis over Ukraine deepens. Some 150 soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade touched down early afternoon in Swidwin, in the northeast of the country, according to an AFP journalist at the scene. A further 450 US troops will be deployed in the next few days in Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, following Washington's announcement on Tuesday that it would increase its presence in the region to reassure its NATO "allies and partners". The US has pulled no punches in describing the purpose of the mission, with Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby calling the deployment a "message to Moscow" that Washington takes its obligations in Europe "very, very seriously".
Barack Obama will this weekend become the first US president to visit Malaysia for nearly 50 years, seeking to put decades of uneasy relations behind him as both cast wary eyes on a rising China. Mindful of America's perennial image problem in the Islamic world, Obama -- who visits Saturday-Monday -- is expected to tout the US friendship with the economically thriving moderate Muslim nation. As one of several rival claimants to parts of the South China Sea, Malaysia is also an important partner in the US "rebalance" of its strategic attention to Asia, where concern is rising over Beijing's territorial assertiveness. Obama will "highlight the growing strategic and economic relationship" with Malaysia and its "credentials as a moderate, Muslim-majority state and emerging democracy", said Joshua Kurlantzick, a fellow at the US Council on Foreign Relations.
US President Barack Obama dined Wednesday at a tiny Tokyo sushi restaurant -- a revered spot with three coveted Michelin stars but only a handful of seats -- ruled with an iron rod by its redoubtable 88-year-old owner. The world's most powerful man, dining at the invitation of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was entirely at the mercy of Jiro Ono, whose exacting standards and tireless work ethic have made him legendary among global foodies. Sukiyabashi Jiro -- Wednesday's venue -- has only 24 seats, sits in a slightly scruffy basement of an ageing commercial building and is connected to a Tokyo subway station. Obama made the pilgrimage to the restaurant just after touching down in Tokyo at the start of an Asian tour, and took along US ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and his national security advisor Susan Rice.
By Hilary Russ NEW YORK (Reuters) - The "Bridgegate" scandal that rocked New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's administration earlier this year is threatening a deal that would allow developer Larry Silverstein to finish building the next World Trade Center skyscraper. Silverstein needs a guarantee from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to secure a $1.2 billion construction loan for 3 World Trade Center. On Wednesday, the agency's board will vote on whether to approve that guarantee, part of a deal that would provide hundreds of millions of dollars more to the Port Authority and allow it to foreclose on the $2.4 billion tower if Silverstein cannot pay debt service costs. But Silverstein's deal, even with the concessions to the Port Authority, has become entangled in a fierce debate within the agency over its mission, including whether it should be in the real estate business at all.