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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Japan Increases Military Spending to Counter China

The government of conservative Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has approved a new national security strategy that will include the purchase of stealth aircraft, drones and amphibious vehicles in a move seen as a response to China. The two countries have been locked in a dispute over the status of the Senkaku islands, or Diaoyu as they are known in China. Asserting rights over the island would also guarantee either country the ability to explore large natural gas reserves in the area. Prime minister Abe said the defence policy made the country’s strategy “clear and transparent”. China has already responded, saying “Japan’s unreasonable criticism of China’s normal maritime activities and its hyping up of the China threat has hidden political motives”, according to Hong Lei, spokesman for the country’s Foreign Ministry.

Pakistan Rules Out Military Action Against the Taliban

The government of Pakistan said on Tuesday that it would continue to pursue talks with the Taliban insurgency, with a senior official in Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s cabinet insisting that the group was “interested in talks”. “The Committee reaffirmed the government’s commitment to the strategy of negotiations with TTP (the Pakistani Taliban) and consider the use of other options only as a last resort”, said a statement issued by the prime minister’s office after a meeting of the country’s Committee on National Security. A Taliban spokesman, Shahidullah Sahid, dismissed the idea of talks. “Like previous governments this one is a puppet of the United States. It’s powerless and dollar-hungry. They should happily launch a military operation against us. We have seen their military operations in the past and would like them to start this long-awaited operation”, he said.

Running Battles in South Sudan

The South Sudanese capital, Juba, has been beset by a second day of fighting after an apparent coup attempt was quashed by the government of President Salva Kiir. At least 26 people are believed to have been killed, but the mobile phone system in the city was taken down after the coup and figures are largely unreliable. President Kiir said on Monday that the fighting was a bid by some army factions to seize power and install former vice-president Riek Machar, sacked in July. The two belong to different ethnic groups, but it is unclear whether the current tension is due to ethnic divisions. “The attackers went and the armed forces are pursuing them. I promise you today that justice will prevail”, said president Kiir.

Archbishop Tutu Criticises Exclusion of Afrikaners from Mandela Memorials

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has criticised the South African government for exclusion of Afrikaners from the memorial services for former South African president Nelson Mandela. “We were amiss in not being as inclusive as Madiba would certainly have been. To the extent that I can do so meaningfully, I apologise to our sisters and brothers in the Afrikaner Community”, said the archbishop, highlighting the lack of a speaker from the Dutch Reformed Church among the religious leaders during the service in Johannesburg and the limited use of the Afrikaans language in the speeches.

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