Intensive talks between Japan and the United States aimed at breaking the deadlock over a huge pan-Pacific trade deal ended Thursday without agreement, as hopes faded of progress before Barack Obama arrives in Tokyo this month. US Trade Representative Michael Froman and his Japanese counterpart Akira Amari said 18 hours of discussions had done little to reduce the "distance" between them, especially on farm and auto products. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is an ambitious plan for a free trade agreement among 12 countries which, if realised, could cover 40 percent of global GDP. It is a key plank in President Obama's foreign policy, and an effort to anchor the US firmly to a region that is increasingly feeling the pull of Beijing's mighty economy.
By Patricia Zengerle WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The chairman of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee said on Thursday that intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities would be top priorities as the panel puts together this year's massive defense policy bill. "If you don't know what somebody else is doing, you don't even know what your risks are," U.S. Representative Buck McKeon said during a meeting with reporters. Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, covers everything from unmanned planes such as the high-altitude Global Hawk that Northrop Grumman Corp builds for the Air Force to manned surveillance planes such as Boeing's P-8 aircraft. McKeon said military commanders were reluctant to give up the manned U-2 spy planes that the Air Force wants to retire in favor of the Global Hawk planes.
By Scott Malone BOSTON (Reuters) - Republican Scott Brown, a former Massachusetts Senator, plans to launch his campaign to represent New Hampshire in the U.S. Senate on Thursday with an attack on incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen's vote for Obamacare. Brown, who moved to his native New Hampshire late last year to explore a run for office, has focused much of his energy on attacking the Affordable Care Act, an issue that Republicans are making a centerpiece of 2014 campaigns. "I worked with Senator Shaheen in the U.S. Senate for three years.
By Richard Cowan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers investigating General Motors' slow recall of 2.6 million cars are zeroing in on engineers and others who may have been aware of problems with ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths. One month after congressional committees launched formal probes into why it took GM more than a decade to respond to ignition switch safety defects with the recall, lawmakers still do not know exactly how company engineers initially reacted to the problem or whether senior executives were made aware of it. ...
Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel Thursday endorsed stronger military ties with Mongolia as it seeks a US partnership as a counterweight to its powerful neighbours Russia and China. Hagel and his Mongolian counterpart Dashdemberel Bat-Erdene signed a "joint vision" statement in Ulan Bator calling for expanding military cooperation through joint training and assistance. The document is mostly symbolic but is likely to irritate Beijing, which has accused Washington of trying to hold back its rise by cultivating military ties with smaller Asian neighbours. "A strong US-Mongolia defence relationship is important as part of the American rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region," Hagel told a joint press conference, referring to a strategic "pivot" that China has eyed with concern.