India's new Prime Minister Narendra Modi instructed top ministers Thursday to prepare their agendas for the first 100 days but did not reveal which of the country's many problems would be tackled first. Speculation has been mounting about what the Modi government would grasp first given the scale of India's economic problems, including creaking infrastructure, energy shortages, high inflation and poor public finances. After attending a cabinet meeting chaired by Modi on Thursday, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu refused to say what was top of the list amid sky-high expectations.
Thirty people were arrested and 14 others hurt when police clashed with stone-throwing youths in a third night of riots sparked by a squat eviction in Barcelona, officials said Thursday. Rioters then tipped over and burned bins, broke windows and pelted police with missiles. Regional government spokesman Francesc Homs blamed the violence on well-organised radicals on the fringes of the protest.
Saudi Arabia has invited Iran to attend a meeting of Islamic bloc foreign ministers in Jeddah next month, an Iranian official said in comments published Thursday. Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian welcomed the "friendly" gesture by Iran's regional rival, with which relations have been strained by the Syrian conflict and the fallout from unrest in Bahrain. An exchange of visits by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif was high on Tehran's agenda, he told the Etemad newspaper. The two-day meeting of foreign ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation opens in Jeddah on June 18.
Astana (Kazakhstan) (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday signed a deal creating an economic union with Belarus and Kazakhstan, with Ukraine conspicuously absent after it turned its back on Moscow. "Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan are going over to a fundamentally new level of cooperation," Putin said at the signing ceremony in the Kazakh capital of Astana.
Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas chose a prime minister to head a unity government on Thursday but announcement of the lineup was held up over the foreign affairs portfolio, officials said. Abbas sent a "letter of designation" to Rami Hamdallah, who is currently serving as premier within the West Bank-based government, an official in Ramallah said. "The government is ready, but there is only one problem, and that is that Fatah and Hamas reject Riyad al-Malki as foreign minister, something Abbas is insisting on," the official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity. Malki is a veteran diplomat who has served as foreign minister since 2007.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Setting the stage for upcoming restrictions on coal-fired power plants, the Obama administration is making a concerted effort to cast its energy policy as an economic success that is creating jobs, securing the nation against international upheavals and shifting energy use to cleaner sources.
By David Brunnstrom ANCHORAGE Alaska (Reuters) - - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Wednesday he will make decisions fairly soon about detainees at Guantanamo Bay detention center who Uruguay has offered to accept. U.S. President Barack Obama's administration wants to close the center in Cuba used to imprison people captured after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and has been talking to several countries about relocating inmates. Guantanamo, criticized by human rights groups, has prisoners that have been held for a decade or longer without being charged or given a trial. Opened by President George W. Bush in 2002 to hold suspects rounded up overseas, Guantanamo became a symbol of the excesses of his "war on terror." Hagel said he was taking his time in reaching a decision about six detainees Obama had discussed with Uruguayan President Jose Mujica, as well as other detainees, in order to be sure that releasing them was the responsible thing to do.
International figures such as Kofi Annan and Hillary Clinton could get a say in who wins the Nobel Peace Prize, as a recent spat with China pushes Norway to spread responsibility for the award. Norway is still suffering the fall-out from the Nobel committee's decision to award the prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in 2010. Although Norway's government had no say in the decision, China was furious.
Shinzo Abe will use a speech at an Asian defence forum this weekend to offer Japan as a counterweight to the growing might of China in a region increasingly riven by territorial disputes. The Japanese prime minister will tell the so-called Shangri-La Dialogue that Tokyo and its partner the United States stand ready to jointly bolster security cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Sankei Shimbun newspaper reported. He will stop short of singling out China, the paper added, but there will be little doubt about where he thinks the blame lies for the various escalating disputes in the South China Sea, and Japan's own battle with Beijing over East China Sea islands.
South Korea's ferry disaster has cast a heavy shadow over upcoming local elections, especially the key race for Seoul mayor -- a high-profile post seen as a possible springboard for the presidency. Surrounded by allegations of negligence, greed and incompetence, the sinking of the 6,825-tonne Sewol ferry triggered intense criticism of the government and President Park Geun-Hye whose ruling conservative Saenuri Party fears a backlash in the June 4 vote. Particular attention will be paid to the mayoral race in Seoul where the two main candidates for one of the most powerful jobs in the country present a timely study in contrasts. His main challenger, tycoon-turned-politician Chung Mong-Joon of the Saenuri Party, is a seven-term legislator and scion of the family that founded and controls the giant Hyundai conglomerate.