Friday, May 3, 2013

Foreign ministers of China and Indonesia have agreed that China and ASEAN countries will set up a working group to create rules for a peaceful resolution of territorial disputes in the South China Sea.Border rows involve China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa met in Jakarta on Thursday. Wang is currently touring Southeast Asia. Indonesian minister said the working group will craft a binding code of conduct to peacefully settle the territorial disputes. Ministers also agreed to establish a group of experts who will assist during negotiations on the code.China and Indonesia also agreed to set up an emergency hotline. Wang said China has sufficient historical and legal basis to claim sovereignty over the islands. He said it is not China but other parties that are causing a change in the region.Wang's remark appears to be criticizing the Philippines. That country requested the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea arbitrate its territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea.

Syrian PM survives bomb attack in Damascus
Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi escaped an assassination bid on Monday, surviving a blast against his convoy in Damascus, in the latest attack on top members of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Soon after, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported an air raid on Halqi's hometown of Jassem, in the country's south, killed 11 people including eight rebel fighters.

The attacks came as UN chief Ban Ki-moon issued a new plea to Damascus to stop blocking an international inquiry into the alleged use of chemical weapons and Republican lawmakers in the United States stepped up calls for American action on the claims.

Syrian state television said Halqi was unharmed in the blast in the upmarket Damascus neighbourhood of Mazzeh.

"The terrorist explosion in Mazzeh was an attempt to target the prime minister's convoy and Dr. Wael al-Halqi was unharmed," the television reported, adding the blast had caused casualties.

The Observatory said the blast killed six people including one of Halqi's bodyguards. "A second bodyguard and the driver are in critical condition," its director Rami Abdel Rahman said, adding the convoy appeared to have been targeted by a remotely-detonated car bomb.

State television said the explosion happened near a public garden and a school in Mazzeh, a well-secured district home to embassies, government buildings, intelligence facilities and politicians.

"I was walking in the street when suddenly there was a very powerful explosion and I saw a car burning and people running," a young man at the scene said. "I heard glass shattering," he added, saying he had tried to hide for fear a second explosion would follow.

A news agency photographer at the scene said vehicles were destroyed, including a bus that was burned out. The windshields of other cars nearby were also blown out.

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