Asia

Total solar eclipse wraps Asia in darkness, superstition

Millions of people across Asia watched as the longest total Total solar eclipse wraps Asia in darkness, superstition of this century plunged large parts of the continent in darkness Wednesday, but heavy cloud cover disappointed many who had hoped to catch a glimpse.

Expert and amateur astronomers, scientists, students and tourists fanned out to heritage sites and other spots along the eclipse's path to view and study the celestial phenomenon, during which the moon obscures the Earth's view of the sun as it passes between the perfectly aligned heavenly bodies.

North Korean foreign minister bows out of ASEAN security talks

ASEANBangkok - North Korea will not send its foreign minister to attend ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) - Asia's main security gathering - hosted by Thailand next week, Thai Foreign Ministry officials confirmed Wednesday.

"All ARF participants will attend the meeting except from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, which will be represented by a high-level official," Vitavas Srivihok, director-general of ASEAN Affairs at the Thai Foreign Ministry, said.

Reliance Capital announces expansion plans

Reliance Capital announces expansion plansReliance Capital, a subsidiary of Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, has been working out plans to expand its business, including the company's foray into banking sector within three to five years. The company aims at increasing its base to 50 million customers by globalization of its operations.

Anil Ambani, chairman of Reliance Capital, said: "We have drawn up exciting growth plans for the next three to five years."

Bangkok-Kunming road brings more drugs, China says

Bangkok-Kunming road brings more drugs, China saysBeijing - The opening of a regional highway from Bangkok through Laos to south-western China's Yunnan province has encouraged more traffickers to try smuggling drugs into China, state media said Friday.

Yunnan police and border forces have increased spot checks and used more mobile checkpoints while trying not to disrupt traffic along the highway, the government's Xinhua news agency quoted provincial security officials as saying.

Crisis of aviation industry continues as swine flu hits air travel

Crisis of aviation industry continues as swine flu hits air travelKuala Lumpur - The global aviation industry, already facing its biggest crisis in history, suffered further losses due to travel restrictions set up following the emergence of swine flu, the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) said Thursday.

Asia-Pacific airlines carried a total 10.1 million passengers in May, a huge dip of 1 million passengers from the month before and 14.8 per cent fewer than in May 2008.

60 million Asians stay below poverty line due to recession

60 million Asians stay below poverty line due to recessionSingapore - The president of the Asian Development Bank warned Monday that the global economic downturn might lead to a significant increase of poverty in Asia.

"Instead of breaking out from poverty, we expect that more than 60 million people in developing Asia ... will remain below the 1.25 dollar a day absolute poverty line in 2009, as a result of the global recession," Haruhiko Kuroda said in Singapore.

"The slowdown is impacting people's lives, especially the poor," he added.

Asia, EU security experts meet in Manila

Asia, EU security experts meet in Manila Manila - Security officials and experts from Asia and the European Union gathered Monday in the Philippine capital for a two-day meeting to assess terrorism threats, especially in the transport sector.

The 7th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Conference on Counter-Terrorism focuses on building state capacity to prevent and combat terrorist attacks on transportation infrastructure and systems.

"The transport sector, especially mass transit, has been especially susceptible to terrorist attacks," the organizers said in a statement.

Asian Development Bank to boost clean energy investments

Asian Development Bank to boost clean energy investments Manila  - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Wednesday it plans to double its clean energy investments to 2 billion dollars a year to promote low-carbon growth and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the region.

ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda said the new investment target was part of the Manila-based bank's energy efficiency initiative and would take effect from 2013.

ADB okays 3.4 billion dollars to help Asia cope with crisis

ADB okays 3.4 billion dollars to help Asia cope with crisis Manila - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Tuesday it has approved 3.4 billion dollars in additional funds to help member developing countries in Asia cope with the global economic crisis.

The Manila-based ADB said 3 billion dollars will be used to establish the Countercyclical Support Facility (CSF) that will provide short term loans faster and cheaper compared to the bank's existing loan facilities.

Seoul urges UN to take measures against North Korea

Seoul urges UN to take measures against North Korea Singapore - South Korean Defence Minister Lee Sang Hee on Saturday urged the UN Security Council to take action against North Korea after Pyongyang's nuclear test this week but said it would work to resolve the crisis peacefully.

Speaking to a meeting on Asian security in Singapore, Lee called on the UN and the international community "to take proper measures against North Korea's wrongdoings so that it would give up its nuclear developments."

US defence chief warns against new arms race in Asia

US defence chief warns against new arms race in AsiaSingapore - The United States would not accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday while warning that Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests might lead to a new arms race in Asia.

"Our goal is complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," Gates told participants at a summit on Asian defence and secrurity in Singapore.

North Korea's sabre rattling "poses the potential for a kind of an arms race in the region," Gates said.

Singapore Stocks close 1.57 per cent higher

Singapore Stocks close 1.57 per cent higherSingpoare Stocks surged 1.5 per cent on back of strong global cues and decent rally in regional exchanges. Asian stocks ended higher on hope of easing recession in major financial markets.

Furthermore, the dealers witnessed the blue-chip Straits Times Index (STI) closing up 36.11 points at 2,329.08 on volume of 3.0 billion shares worth 2.64 billion Singapore dollars (1.82 billion US).

The dealers commented that the market reflected gains on other Asian bourses, which were in turn fuelled by a rise on Wall Street.  

Defence ministers gather for dialogue on Asian security

Singapore  - Defence ministers and policy-makers from 27 nations gathered in Singapore Friday for the largest summit on Asian defence and security against the background of rising tensions after North Korea tested a nuclear weapon and short-range missiles earlier this week.

The three-day 2009 Shangri-La Dialogue represents the highest concentration of defence and security leaders in Asia.

Since its inaugural meeting in 2002, the dialogue organized by the non-governmental London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) has also expanded as a venue for diplomats from the Unites States and Europe.

WHO calls for graphic warnings on tobacco products

WHO calls for graphic warnings on tobacco productsManila - The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday called on governments to use graphic pictures on tobacco products to show the frightening impact of smoking on people's health.

In a statement ahead of World No Tobacco Day, the WHO said the tobacco industry spends vast sums of money to produce packaging that makes a deadly product look safe and appealing.

To counter that effect, packets should show shocking photos of lung tumours, blood clots in the brain and decaying gums, the global health body said.

Australia announces Endeavour Awards

Australia announces Endeavour AwardsNew Delhi, May 15: The Australian Government has announced the Prime Minister''s Australia Asia Endeavour Awards to provide scholarships for the best university students from Australia and Asia.

Development bank to aid Central, West Asia with climate change

Development bank to aid Central, West Asia with climate changeManila - The Asian Development Bank said Thursday that it approved a 5-million-dollar grant to help Central and West Asia address the impacts of climate change.

The Manila-based bank said the assistance would fund a project to promote investments in energy efficiency, fuel switching, industrial processes, renewable energy, improved waste-management systems and land restoration.

Is Asia's electronics sector recovering?

Is Asia's electronics sector recovering?Bangkok - Among Asia's export-driven economies, the electronics sector, which generally accounts for 30 to 50 per cent of their exports, has offered the most glaring example of the region's economic coupling with the US market.

Not surprisingly, as the US sub-prime crisis hit in September and October last year, orders for Asia's electronics - a broad category of semi-conductor-based components and consumer goods that covers everything from computers to mobile phones - tanked.

Asia-Pacific stocks climb on signs of economic recovery

Asia-Pacific stocks climb on signs of economic recoveryHong Kong - Asian stock markets surged upward Monday as investors reacted to optimistic signals of a beginning to economic recovery in the region and gains on Wall Street.

Hong Kong shares climbed 5.54 per cent to a six-month high Monday following gains on Wall Street and hopes that the global economy might be on the road back.

The Hang Seng Index rose 860.06 points to close at 16,381.05, its highest level since October.

ASEAN security forum holds disaster relief exercises in Philippines

ASEAN LogoManila - An Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) security forum on Monday opened four days of disaster-relief exercises in the Philippines, aimed at boosting cooperation during disasters, such as last year's Cyclone Nargis.

More than 300 disaster and relief workers from 27 member countries of the ASEAN Regional Forum were participating in the exercises, which simulated response to a supertyphoon devastating Manila and nearby provinces.

The activity was the first field exercise undertaken by the 27-member forum since it was set up in 1994.

ASEAN security forum holds disaster relief exercises in Philippines

ASEAN LogoManila - An Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) security forum on Monday opened four days of disaster-relief exercises in the Philippines, aimed at boosting cooperation during disasters, such as last year's Cyclone Nargis.

More than 300 disaster and relief workers from 27 member countries of the ASEAN Regional Forum were participating in the exercises, which simulated response to a supertyphoon devastating Manila and nearby provinces.

The activity was the first field exercise undertaken by the 27-member forum since it was set up in 1994.




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