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Malaysian forces are “committed” to continue plying the inky waters between Malaysia and Vietnam until rescue efforts are officially called off.
The Philippines is to upgrade a navy base facing disputed South China Sea waters to serve the extra ships being acquired to protect its territory, the military said Thursday. Navy spokesman Lieutenant-Commander Gregory Fabic said the military would build a 500-million-peso ($11.2 million) port at Ulugan Bay, the Philippine military base nearest to the Spratly Islands. President Benigno Aquino is set to visit the base on May 20 to launch the upgrading, Fabic added. In recent years, the Philippines has been locked in an increasingly tense standoff with China involving disputed reefs and islands in the Spratlys and other areas of the South China Sea.
BERLIN (AP) — Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine's former prime minister, has begun medical treatment at Berlin's Charite hospital, but the doctors caring for her said Saturday it's too soon to say how long the treatment will take and what lasting damage the 53-year-old might have from three slipped discs she suffered while in prison.
SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine (AP) — Dozens of military trucks transporting heavily armed soldiers rumbled over Crimea's rutted roads Saturday as Russia reinforced its armed presence on the disputed peninsula in the Black Sea. Moscow's foreign minister ruled out any dialogue with Ukraine's new authorities, whom he dismissed as the puppets of extremists.
KIEV (Reuters) - Here is a timeline of the fall of Ukraine's government and Russia's subsequent incursion into Ukraine's Crimea region. The crisis began in November when Ukraine's then president, Viktor Yanukovich, under Russian pressure, turned his back on a trade deal with the EU and accepted a $15 billion bailout from Moscow. That prompted three months of street protests, leading to the overthrow of Yanukovich on February 22. Moscow denounced the events as an illegitimate coup and refused to recognise the new Ukrainian authorities. ...
By Peter Graff and Andrew Osborn KIEV/SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine (Reuters) - Shots were fired in Crimea to warn off an unarmed international team of monitors and at a Ukrainian observation plane, as the standoff between occupying Russian forces and besieged Ukrainian troops intensified. Russia's seizure of the Black Sea peninsula, which began 10 days ago, has so far been bloodless, but its forces have become increasingly aggressive towards Ukrainian troops, who are trapped in bases and have offered no resistance. Tempers have grown hotter in the last two days, since the region's pro-Moscow leadership declared it part of Russia and announced a March 16 referendum to confirm it. A spokeswoman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said no one was hurt when shots were fired to turn back its mission of more than 40 unarmed observers, who have been invited by Kiev but lack permission from Crimea's pro-Russian authorities to cross the isthmus to the peninsula.
SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Suspected al-Qaida militants fired rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machineguns at a military base in southern Yemen on Saturday, killing two soldiers guarding its gate, a senior military official said.
Two passengers on a Malaysia Airlines passenger aircraft that went missing in Asia with 239 people on board appeared to have been travelling on stolen EU passports, it emerged Saturday. An Austrian, named in reports as Christian Kozel, 30, had his passport pinched in Thailand in 2012, while Italian Luigi Maraldi, 37, had his stolen last year, also in Thailand, officials and sources said. Maraldi phoned from Thailand to his family in Cesena in northeastern Italy after seeing on the news that he was listed as being on the vanished airliner, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. Austrian authorities tracked down Kozel after being told by the airline he was on the passenger list.
BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian government forces seized a town from rebels near the Lebanese border on Saturday, their latest attempt to cut off opposition fighters' fluid supply lines from the country, state media and activists said.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Vietnamese air force planes on Saturday spotted two large oil slicks close to where a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 went missing earlier in the day, the first sign that the aircraft carrying 239 people had crashed.
By Andrew Osborn NOVOOZERNOE, Ukraine (Reuters) - Lashed by the wind as it whips across Crimea's biggest lake, a third of Ukraine's warships have nowhere to go and nothing to do but rise and fall on its choppy waves. Russian forces have blocked their only exit point to the Black Sea by sinking two ageing vessels there, and Russia's well-armed Moskva missile cruiser can be seen treading water a short distance off the coast, with menace. With six more of Ukraine's two dozen warships similarly blockaded and Russian forces building up their strength ahead of a referendum that seems likely to result in Crimea becoming part of Russia, Ukraine is facing the humiliating loss of its navy.
Pope Francis named top laymen from the worlds of finance and economics on Saturday to a new Vatican Council for the Economy, intended to improve scrutiny of the Holy See's scandal-plagued accounts. The creation of the 15-member council is a major step in bringing lay people into the Vatican, and reflects a drive by Francis to make changes to an establishment often seen as murky and secretive. The seven non-religious figures in the council include Maltese economist Joseph Zahra, former director of the Central Bank of Malta, and France's Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, chairman of mergers and acquisitions advisory firm INCIPIT and former head of the European Fund and Asset Management Association. Spanish University of Madrid economist Enrique Llano Cueto, German former McKinsey & Company partner Jochen Messemer, and Italian University of Messina Business Administration professor Francesco Vermiglio were also named members.
Libya threatened on Saturday to bomb a North Korean-flagged tanker at an oil terminal held by militants in the restive east, saying it was being loaded illegally. Separatists blockading Al-Sidra facility attempted to load crude aboard the Morning Glory in the latest challenge to central government control. "The attorney general has given the order for the ship to be stopped," Prime Minister Ali Zeidan told a news conference. The self-proclaimed government of Cyrenaica in the east, the political wing of the separatists, said oil exports from Al-Sidra had now begun.
President Barack Obama placed a series of calls to six world leaders on Saturday as tensions rose in Ukraine's Russian-occupied Crimean region, the White House said. Obama made his third call this week about the crisis to British Prime Minister David Cameron and his second call in a week to French President Francois Hollande. Obama, who is on a weekend vacation with his family at a lush Florida resort, also called Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, his first call about Ukraine to the NATO member, the White House said.
MILAN (AP) — Foreign ministry officials in Rome and Vienna confirmed Saturday that names of two nationals listed on the manifest of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight match passports reported stolen in Thailand.
By Ulf Laessing and Feras Bosalum TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya threatened on Saturday to bomb a North Korean-flagged tanker if it tried to ship oil from a rebel-controlled port, in a major escalation of a standoff over the country's petroleum wealth. The oil dispute is just one facet of the deepening turmoil in the North African OPEC member, where the government is struggling to control militias who helped topple Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 but kept their weapons and now challenge state authority. A local television station controlled by protesters showed footage of pro-autonomy rebels holding a lengthy ceremony and slaughtering a camel to celebrate their first oil shipment. Prime Minister Ali Zeidan appeared hours later on television to warn the tanker's crew.
Victims of Stalin's mass deportations in 1944, Crimea's Tatar Muslim minority look wearily on next week's referendum on joining Russia, which could well bring the crisis on the tense peninsula to new heights. The referendum is meant to confirm Thursday's decision by Crimea's pro-Moscow parliament to become part of the Russian Federation, even though the authorities in Kiev have deemed it "illegitimate". While the move has been greeted by Crimea's Russian-speaking majority, it has drawn a less than enthusiastic response from the minority Tatars. "The only real threat is Russia, where there is no freedom of speech." Eskender, a respected elderly man in the crowd, is equally outspoken: "We will not take part in the referendum, it's organised by Russian separatists." But if a choice is to be made between annexation and a full blown conflict, joining Russia "will still be less awful than war," he admits.
(Reuters) - AT&T Inc said on Saturday it is cutting wireless data charges for individual customers who have no annual service contract, as the No. 2 U.S. mobile operator attempts to better compete with rival T-Mobile US Inc. Customers having one smartphone with no annual service contract will now pay $65 per month instead of $80 for a plan that includes 2GB LTE wireless data, unlimited talk and text messaging, unlimited international messaging and 50 GB cloud storage. The latest plan follows price cuts AT&T announced last month for families and customers who share large data plans, as well as its offer of a $200 credit to customers who switch to its network. AT&T has been fiercely competing with smaller rival T-Mobile U.S. after T-Mobile spent several quarters directly marketing to AT&T customers.
By Anuradha Raghu and Nguyen Phuong Linh KUALA LUMPUR/HO CHI MINH CITY (Reuters) - A Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew was presumed to have crashed off the Vietnamese coast on Saturday, and European officials said two people on board were using false identities. There were no reports of bad weather and no sign why the Boeing 777-200ER would have vanished from radar screens about an hour after it took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing. "We are not ruling out any possibilities," Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya told a news conference. But the passenger manifest issued by the airline included the names of two Europeans - Austrian Christian Kozel and Italian Luigi Maraldi - who, according to their foreign ministries, were not in fact on the plane.