Thursday, December 14, 2006


India’s leader seeks ‘arc of prosperity’

TOKYO — Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called yesterday for an “arc of prosperity” with fellow democracy Japan but pressed Asia’s largest economy to invest more and support nuclear cooperation.

Mr. Singh is the first Indian prime minister in five years to visit Japan, whose conservative government has made improving ties with New Delhi a top priority to balance frequent friction with China.

“Strong ties between India and Japan will be a major factor in building an open and inclusive Asia and in enhancing peace and stability in the region,” Mr. Singh told a joint session of the Japanese Diet. “Our partnership has the potential to create an arc of advantage and prosperity across Asia, laying the foundation for the creation of an Asian economic community,” Mr. Singh said.


Sultan Mizan, 44, crowned 13th king

KUALA LUMPUR — Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin was crowned Malaysia’s 13th king this weekin a traditional ceremony filled with pomp and pageantry, becoming the second-youngest monarch. The ceremony was broadcast live on television.

Mizan, the sultan of the oil-and-gas rich Terengganu state, was sworn in at the palace as the 13th Yang di-Pertuan Agong — the Malay title for the king — under a system that allows traditional state rulers to take turns ruling the entire country.

At 44, Mizan is the youngest of the current nine state rulers. He succeeded 63-year-old Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail, the ruler of Perlis state, who was given a grand farewell Tuesday after completing his reign.


Asian skies are now world’s most polluted

YOGYAKARTA — Asia’s rapid economic expansion has turned its skies into some of world’s most polluted and the region must do more to fight a scourge that is blamed for more than 500,000 premature deaths annually, delegates told a clean air conference this week.

Some 900 specialists and government officials from 20 countries meeting here urged the region to impose tighter regulations on emissions, boost investment in public transportation, and introduce fuel-efficiency standards to tackle air pollution. “There are hundreds of millions of children and adults suffering from air pollution in Asia,” said Andrew Steers, the World Bank’s country director in Indonesia. “It’s not necessary and it’s our job to do something about it.”

Increased burning of coal to fuel the economies of India and China, the millions of new vehicles clogging the roads in places such as Manila and Jakarta, and haze-inducing land clearing fires on Borneo were cited among the reasons for the dirty air.

Weekly notes …

Australia and France signed an agreement yesterday on military cooperation designed to enhance their ability to work together. French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie signed the accord during a visit to Paris by her Australian counterpart, Brendan Nelson. “France is present in New Caledonia and Polynesia and may act in the region in areas such as combating piracy, drug trafficking or terrorism, or rescue operations,” the ministry said. … Lawyers for a U.S. Marine convicted of raping a Filipina asked a Philippine court yesterday to transfer him to American custody during his appeal. Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith’s lawyers filed the motion with the Court of Appeals a day after Judge Benjamin Pozon ordered Smith to remain in a Manila jail, saying that because of his conviction, Smith was no longer covered by a provision of a military pact that U.S. servicemen accused of crimes could be held by U.S. authorities.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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