World

JAKARTA - Two crew members have died and one is missing after a fire broke out on an oil tanker carrying fuel to terminals on the Indonesian islands of Bali and Lombok, the state energy company Pertamina said in a statement late on Sunday. The chartered vessel, MT Kristin, had 17 crew on board and was carrying 5,900 kilolitres of fuel when the fire started at 2:50 p.m. local time (0650 GMT) on Sunday. Pertamina said so far no oil spills had been detected after the fire, though a 300 metre (984.25 ft) oil boom had been set up around the ship. The vessel was being towed to the nearest safe port, Pertamina's shipping unit said on Monday. The state oil company said there were sufficient fuel stocks at the Ampenan terminal on Lombok and the Sanggaran terminal on Bali to secure supplies on the popular tourism destinations, while fuel supplies from other areas were also being diverted. (Reporting by Ananda Teres...
By Francesco Guarascio HANOI - A Vietnamese ship monitored a Chinese Coast Guard vessel on Saturday in a Russian-operated gas field in Vietnam's South China Sea exclusive economic zone (EEZ), data show - the latest Chinese patrol in a pattern stretching more than a year. Chinese coast guard ships have sailed directly into energy exploration blocks operated or owned by Russian firms in Vietnam's EEZ about 40 times since January 2022, according to vessel-tracking data from Vietnamese research organisation South China Sea Chronicle Initiative (SCSCI), an independent non-profit. China considers the area part of its expansive territorial claim in the South China Sea marked by a "nine-dash line," a boundary the Permanent Court of Arbitration found in 2016 to have no legal basis. It has built artificial islands and airfields on some reefs and islets in the sea to widespread concern in the region and in the United States. Both Vietn...
MOSCOW - The secretary of Russia's Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, said that NATO countries are a party to the conflict in Ukraine, according to excerpts from an interview with Russian government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta on Monday. Rossiyskaya Gazeta cited Patrushev as saying: "In fact, NATO countries are a party to the conflict. They made Ukraine one big military camp. They send weapons and ammunition to the Ukrainian troops, provide them with intelligence". Patrushev, a former chief of the FSB internal security service, is widely seen as one of the most hawkish members of Russian President Vladimir Putin's inner circle. (Reporting by ; Editing by David Goodman and Bernadette Baum)...
By Fabian Hamacher and Ann Wang TAOYUAN, Taiwan - Former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou left for China on Monday on a landmark trip, saying he hoped to bring about peace and improve relations through the interactions of young people. Ma, in office from 2008-2016, will be the first former or current Taiwanese president to visit China since the defeated Republic of China government fled to Taiwan in 1949 at the end of a civil war with the Communists, where it remains to this day. The trip comes at a time of heightened tensions between Beijing and Taipei as China keeps up military and political pressure to try and get democratic Taiwan to accept Chinese sovereignty. Ma met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Singapore in late 2015 shortly before the current Taiwan president, Tsai Ing-wen, won an election. Speaking to reporters at Taiwan's main international airport at Taoyuan, Ma, 73, said he was "very happy" to be goi...
MOSCOW - Moscow may seek compensation over damage from last year's explosions on the Nord Stream gas pipelines, news agency RIA Novosti reported on Monday, citing a Russian diplomat. The pipelines, which connect Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea, were hit by unexplained blasts last September in what Moscow called an act of "international terrorism". "We do not rule out later the raising of the issue of compensation for damage as a result of the explosion of the Nord Stream gas pipelines," Dmitry Birichevsky, the head of Russia's Foreign Ministry department for economic cooperation, said in an interview with the news agency. He added that Western countries were opposing a Russia-prepared draft U.N. Security Council resolution urging an independent international investigation of the Nord Stream blasts. "Despite this, we intend to continue to insist on a comprehensive and open international investigation with the mandator...
TAIPEI - Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of major Apple Inc supplier Foxconn, will visit the United States this week, his office said on Monday, as he considers another run for Taiwan's presidency. Gou will leave for the United States on Monday evening for a 12-day visit his office called a "journey of scientific and technological economic development" and will also speak at the Washington think-tank, the Brookings Institution. "Not only the United States, but also other major democratic allies have been gradually paying attention to security issues in the Asia-Pacific region," his office said in a statement. "The potential risks of regional conflicts highlight Taiwan's key role in the global cooperation system." Gou will also visit the University of Maryland to talk about artificial intelligence, as well as Harvard Medical School, it added, but did not say if he would meet any U.S. officials while in the country....
By James Mackenzie JERUSALEM - Israeli President Isaac Herzog urged the government on Monday to halt its bitterly contested judicial overhaul, a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sacked his defence minister for opposing the move, sparking mass street protests. "For the sake of the unity of the people of Israel, for the sake of responsibility, I call on you to stop the legislative process immediately," Herzog said on Twitter. The warning from the head of state who is supposed to stand above politics and whose function is largely ceremonial, underlined the alarm the divisions opened up by the proposals has caused. It followed a dramatic night of protests in cities across Israel, with tens of thousands pouring out on the streets following Netanyahu's announcement that he had dismissed Defence Minister Yoav Gallant. A day earlier, Gallant had made a televised appeal for the government to halt its flagship overhaul of t...
TAIPEI - Taiwan is part of a democratic alliance and can work with many friendly countries, Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua said after welcoming a large Czech delegation to the island on Monday, one day after Honduras switched diplomatic allegiance to China. While the number of countries that retain formal diplomatic ties with Chinese-claimed Taiwan has dwindled to just 13 following the move by Honduras on Sunday, U.S. allies like the Czech Republic have been bolstering support for the democratic island even as they also only officially recognise China. The roughly 150-person Czech delegation arrived in Taipei on Saturday, led by the speaker of the lower chamber of the Czech parliament, Marketa Pekarova Adamova. China has criticised the visit. Speaking to reporters after addressing a Taiwan-Czech business forum, Wang said the timing of the Honduras announcement and the Czech delegation's arrival were two different things. "Thi...
TAIPEI - There are no signs of any unusual military deployments by China's military ahead of President Tsai Ing-wen's visit to the United States and Central America this week, a deputy Taiwanese defence minister said on Monday. China, which views Taiwan as its own territory, staged war games around the island last August following a trip to Taipei by then U.S.-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Tsai leaves for New York on Wednesday on a stopover on her way to Guatemala and Belize. On her way back to Taiwan, she will transit through Los Angeles, where she is likely to meet current House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Taking lawmakers' questions in parliament, Taiwan deputy defence minister Po Horng-huei said China has three to four warships operating around Taiwan every day, which has already become a "new normal". If there are any changes in China's military deployment, Taiwan must be prepared for the worst-case scenario, he said....
- Russia plans to complete in early 2024 the construction of its coastal infrastructure in the Pacific Ocean for basing nuclear submarines that will carry the Poseidon nuclear capable super torpedoes, TASS news agency reported on Monday. Russia said in January that it had produced the first set of the Poseidon torpedoes, four years after President Vladimir Putin announced the fundamentally new type of strategic nuclear weapon, confirming it would have its own nuclear power supply. There are few confirmed details about the Poseidon in the public domain, but it is essentially a cross between a torpedo and a drone which can be launched from a nuclear submarine. The torpedoes are being developed for deployment on the Belgorod and Khabarovsk nuclear submarines, TASS reported. "Work on the construction of coastal infrastructure facilities for basing two special submarines in Kamchatka is planned to be completed early next year," T...
- Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, have agreed to meet during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the Saudi state news agency SPA said early on Monday. Both ministers spoke by phone for the second time in a few days, SPA said. "During the call, a number of common issues were discussed in light of the tripartite agreement that was signed in the People's Republic of China. The two ministers also agreed to hold a bilateral meeting between them during the ongoing month of Ramadan," SPA said. Earlier this month, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to revive relations after years of hostility that had threatened stability and security in the Gulf and helped fuel conflicts in the Middle East from Yemen to Syria. (Reporting by Hatem Maher; Editing by Tom Hogue)...
- The U.N. nuclear watchdog head will not travel to Russia this week, but a visit is possible in the near future, Russian news agency RIA reported early on Monday, citing Moscow's permanent representative to international organisations in Vienna. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi announced on Saturday that he would visit the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine this week to assess the serious situation there. When asked if Russia planned to invite Grossi to Moscow in the near future, permanent representative Mikhail Ulyanov said that was "quite realistic", according to RIA. "Not next week, but somewhat later, the visit of Rafael Grossi to Russia may well take place," Ulyanov added. Grossi is pressing for a security zone to be erected around Zaporizhzhia, Europe's largest nuclear power plant with six reactors, which has come under repeated shelling during the 13-mont...
By Dan Peleschuk KYIV - NATO castigated Vladimir Putin over his nuclear rhetoric a day after the Russian president said he planned to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, escalating a standoff with the West. The plan is one of Russia's clearest nuclear signals since the start of its invasion of Ukraine 13 months ago, and Ukraine called for a meeting of the U.N. Security Council in response. "Russia's nuclear rhetoric is dangerous and irresponsible," NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said on Sunday. "NATO is vigilant and we are closely monitoring the situation. We have not seen any changes in Russia's nuclear posture that would lead us to adjust our own." In his comments on Saturday, Putin likened the move to the U.S. stationing its weapons in Europe, while insisting that Russia would not violate its nuclear non-proliferation promises. While Washington, the world's other nuclear superpower,...
- The United States is deeply concerned by events in Israel and "strongly urges" leaders there to find compromise as soon as possible, a White House spokesperson said on Sunday after the firing of Israel's defense minister triggered mass protests. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired Defence Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday, a day after Gallant broke ranks with the government and urged a halt to a highly contested plan to overhaul the judicial system. "We continue to strongly urge Israeli leaders to find a compromise as soon as possible. We believe that is the best path forward for Israel and all of its citizens," White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement. Some three months since taking office, Netanyahu's nationalist-religious coalition has been plunged into crisis over the bitter divisions exposed by its flagship judicial overhaul plans. The overhaul package would ti...
By Nick Starkov KYIV - Orlando Bloom, a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations children's organization UNICEF and a star of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Lord of the Rings" movies visited a children's centre in Kyiv on Sunday. It was his first trip to Ukraine since 2016, the British actor said. He also met with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. "I would have never expected the war to have escalated throughout the country since I was there," Bloom said on Instagram. "But today, I was fortunate to hear children's laughter at a UNICEF-supported Spilno centre, a safe, warm, and nurturing space for children to play, learn and receive psychosocial support." The Spilno centres, spread throughout Ukraine, offer support for displaced children and their families, with more than half a million children and their caregivers having visited one in the past year, according to a UNICEF statement on its websi...
By Lucy Craymer WELLINGTON - New Zealand intelligence agencies are growing more concerned about both foreign interference and malicious cyber activity ahead of elections in October, the country’s intelligence chiefs said on Monday. “It's fair to say that concern about foreign interference as well as malicious cyber activity is growing,” Andrew Hampton, director general of the New Zealand Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), told media after testifying at parliament. “That's not just the domestic trend it's the international trend as well,” he said. Security services are working with the election authority to improve cybersecurity and procedures and will also brief political parties on security and foreign interference threats. Both the GCSB and Security Intelligence Service chiefs were speaking before the intelligence committee that includes the country’s Prime Minister as part of their annual re...
TOKYO - Japanese public support for the cabinet of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida rose to 48%, exceeding the disapproval rate for the first time in seven months, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Sunday, citing a poll it conducted with TV Tokyo. The approval rate increased 5 percentage points from the poll in February, while the disapproval rate slid to 44%, the newspaper said. (Reporting by Rocky Swift; Editing by Tom Hogue)...
By Nick Starkov KYIV - Russia is turning Ukraine's Avdiivka into "a place from post-apocalyptic movies", intensifying shelling and forcing a nearly full shutdown of the frontline city, the top local official said on Sunday. Some 2,000 civilians are left in Avdiivka, a Donetsk region city some 90 kilometres (56 miles) southwest of the besieged Bakhmut, according to officials. The city had a pre-war population of more than 30,000. "I am sad to say this, but Avdiivka is becoming more and more like a place from post-apocalyptic movies," the city's military administration head Vitaliy Barabash said on the Telegram messaging app. The evacuation of the utility workers that were still left in the city has begun and mobile reception will be turned off soon, "because there are informers of the Russian occupiers in the city," Barabash added. With Russian forces making recent gradual gains on the flanks of Avdiivka, the U...
SEOUL -North Korea has fired a ballistic missile off its east coast, South Korea's military said on Monday. Japan's Coast Guard said the projectile believed to be North Korea-fired missile has already fallen. Other details, such as its flight range, were not immediately available. The launch is the latest in a series of weapons tests by the North, including the firing of multiple cruise missiles on Wednesday which Pyongyang said was aimed at practicing tactical nuclear attacks. (Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and David Gregorio)...
MEXICO CITY - The Mexican government said Sunday it would challenge the Supreme Court's temporary suspension of parts of a controversial electoral reform pushed by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. The Supreme Court on Friday halted parts of the reform, which was a scaled-down version of a failed constitutional reform originally sought. The court also confirmed it will consider a lawsuit from independent electoral institute INE that seeks to overturn it. Mexico's government said in a statement it will challenge the decision through its legal department and blasted the court's suspension. "It is false that the fundamental rights of citizens are put at risk, as well as the organization of the elections ... so it is an unjustified and unnecessary resolution," the government said. "It is essential that the ministers that make up the (Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation) act within the powers that correspond to them, w...