Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Wednesday said he hopes to seal security and intelligence pacts with Indonesia as he looks to repair ties hurt by spying allegations. Abbott is due to meet Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Wednesday, admitting there had been "rough patches" in the "critically important relationship". Ties sunk to their lowest point for years in November after reports that Australian spies tried to tap the phones of Yudhoyono and his inner circle. This included on people-smuggling -- another sensitive topic with Jakarta unhappy over Australia's military-led operation to stem the flow of boatpeople, who mostly make the journey from Indonesia.
Six Niger opposition figures, including a former government minister, were charged with "violating the security of the state" Tuesday and remanded in custody, their party said. The six are close to parliament speaker Hama Amadou, seen by his followers as the principal rival of President Mahamadou Issoufou in presidential eledctions due in 2016. Among the six are former health minister Soumana Sanda, former Niamey mayor Oumarou Dogari, retired army colonel Abdourahamane Saidou, Amadou Salah, an MP for the Nigerien Democratic Movement (Moden), told AFP.
Pension reform, energy policy and corruption are among the issues expected to feature in the Queen's speech at the state opening of parliament later on Wednesday. Prime Minister David Cameron and Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg attempted to highlight the common ground shared by the governing parties, despite a deteriorating relationship. It was reported that the Queen will announce government plans to give communities the right to take a stake in local renewable energy projects in an attempt to boost alternative energy production.
Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, recently freed after five years as a captive of the Taliban, may still be disciplined if the army finds evidence of misconduct, the US military's top officer said. General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was speaking on Tuesday after claims from members of Bergdahl's unit that he had been captured after abandoning his post.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House is considering nominating the head of the prestigious Cleveland Clinic, Toby Cosgrove, as the next secretary of the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs, a source familiar with the matter said on Tuesday. Eric Shinseki resigned on Friday as secretary of the department amid a political firestorm over widespread delays in veterans' medical care. President Barack Obama has named Deputy Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson to lead the agency while he looks for a permanent replacement. ...
By Patricia Zengerle and Jeff Mason WASHINGTON/WARSAW (Reuters) - President Barack Obama defended on Tuesday the prisoner swap deal that freed a U.S. soldier from Taliban captivity in Afghanistan, and the Army pledged to investigate the circumstances of his capture after fellow soldiers said he had deserted. Trying to defuse concerns of members of Congress who said the president broke the law by not giving them advance notice of the agreement, Obama told a news conference in Warsaw: "Regardless of the circumstances, whatever those circumstances may turn out to be, we still get an American soldier back if he’s held in captivity. Full stop." Top White House officials also tried to tamp down outrage in the Capitol by calling key lawmakers to apologize personally for failing to fill them in on the administration's plans before last weekend's prisoner swap.
Brazil thrashed Panama in a friendly Tuesday, looking very much ready for the World Cup, although off the pitch, the hosts were still rushing to finish their stadiums nine days from kick-off. Star striker Neymar opened the scoring as Brazil routed their visitors 4-0 in the central city of Goiania, with Daniel Alves, Hulk and Willian all adding goals. At Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo, which will host the opening ceremony and kick-off match between Brazil and Croatia, workers are still finishing temporary stands for 20,000 fans and VIP seats intended for heads of state. Meanwhile, protests that have shaken Brazil before the World Cup continued in Goiania, where about 100 demonstrators gathered outside the hotel where the Brazilian team were staying ahead of their match.
U.S. President Barack Obama’s former ambassador to Damascus harshly criticized the White House Syria policy on Tuesday, saying Washington should have done more earlier to arm moderate rebel factions. Robert Ford said in an interview with the PBS NewsHour that as a result of U.S. hesitancy, extremist threats to the United States had grown. He had left the country in 2011 after the United States received threats against his personal safety in Syria. His remarks appeared likely to refuel the debate over Obama's cautious approach to the war, just as the White House has launched a campaign to counter criticisms of the president’s foreign policy.
The White House apologized for keeping lawmakers in the dark regarding the exchange of an American soldier for five Taliban fighters, senators said Tuesday, as controversy grew over the issue. Administration officials plan a classified briefing for the full 100-member chamber Wednesday, with lawmakers from both parties fuming over the trade, which saw captured soldier Bowe Bergdahl released Saturday to US special forces in Afghanistan. Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein, a senior member of President Barack Obama's Democratic Party, said the White House breached US law when it failed to alert Congress to the proposed trade.
Brazil is building five submarines to patrol its massive coast, including one powered by an atomic reactor that would put it in the small club of countries with a nuclear sub. The new submarines aim to protect that resource, said the navy official coordinating the $10-billion project, Gilberto Max Roffe Hirshfeld. "Brazil has riches in its waters. The new submarines, which will replace Brazil's aging fleet of five conventional subs, are being built at a sprawling 540,000-square-meter (135-acre) complex in Itaguai, just south of Rio de Janeiro.