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Briefly

- - Thursday, July 21, 2011

ASIA

World leaders meet to discuss regional topics

BALI, INDONESIA | Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and top diplomats from Europe and Asia will gather over the weekend to discuss issues that threaten to undermine regional security in Asia.

Some of the key topics:

• The South China Sea. There are conflicting territorial claims over the South China Sea, which is of tremendous strategic importance to everyone, including Washington, because one-third of the world's shipping transits through its waters. It's also rich with fish and is believed to hold huge oil and gas reserves.

• North Korea. Talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear-weapons program have been stalled now for more than two years.

• Myanmar. It held elections late last year, officially handing power to a civilian administration after a half-century of military rule and releasing pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest. But critics say the changes are cosmetic and the army will continue to hold sway.

INDIA

India succeeds in testing quick-reaction missile

NEW DELHI | India successfully tested a new quick-reaction tactical missile Thursday and will use it in battlefield support for the army, the Defense Ministry said.

The surface-to-surface "Prahaar" missile - which means "attack" in Hindi - can carry a variety of warheads weighing up to 440 pounds and hit targets 93 miles away.

India's missiles are mostly intended for any confrontation with neighboring Pakistan, but both countries routinely test theirs, so India's latest was unlikely to aggravate tensions.

The Defense Ministry said the missile was tested successfully off the coast of India's eastern Orissa state. Within 205 seconds, the missile "achieved terminal accuracy of less than 10 meters," or 33 feet.

Equipped with high-tech navigation and guidance equipment, the missile is meant to provide the Indian army with a "cost-effective, quick-reaction, all-weather, all-terrain, high-accurate battlefield support tactical system," the ministry said in a statement.

AUSTRALIA

Terror group sparks alert with Opera House photo

SYDNEY | Police on Thursday cautioned Australians to be vigilant after an al Qaeda-linked online magazine published a picture of Sydney's iconic Opera House.

Police are unclear about the significance of the Sydney Opera House photograph appearing in the latest issue of Inspire, an English-language online magazine published by associates of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

The picture was carried without any comment or reference point.

The photo came to police attention after it was posted earlier this week, and local media reported on it Thursday. The magazine cover features a picture of late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

KAZAKHSTAN

Leader 'back home' after treatment

ASTANA | Kazakhstan's president re-emerged on state television Thursday following a 10-day absence during which he reportedly underwent surgery at a hospital in Germany.

The Bild newspaper reported this week that Nursultan Nazarbayev, 71, had prostate surgery at University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany, raising concerns about a possible vacuum in Central Asia's largest economy.

Without referring to any leave of absence, the presidential website said Mr. Nazarbayev held a meeting in the Kazakh capital, Astana, with the country's most senior officials, including Prime Minister Karim Massimov.

Kazakh state television then showed a lengthy report in which the republic's only post-Soviet leader presided over a meeting that effectively pronounced the country's future sound.

Mr. Nazarbayev looked thinner but refreshed and spoke in a firm voice.

JAPAN

Man gets life sentence for killing British teacher

CHIBA | A man was sentenced to life in prison Thursday for raping and killing a young British teacher in Japan four years ago, closing one of the country's highest-profile criminal cases after he evaded arrest for years and even cut his face to avoid being identified.

The Chiba District Court ordered Tatsuya Ichihashi to spend life behind bars for killing 22-year-old English teacher Lindsay Hawker, whose body was found in a dirt-filled bathtub on Ichihashi's apartment balcony outside Tokyo.

The judge said Ichihashi showed no respect for her life and committed a heinous crime but at age 32, still has a slight chance of being rehabilitated. He could have been sentenced to death by hanging.

Miss Hawker's father, who had said the family wanted the maximum punishment, said after the verdict they were pleased to finally get justice.