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US sends warship in South China Sea, Beijing alarmedUS sailors receive a safety brief on the guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey in the South China Sea. AFP file

US sends warship in South China Sea, Beijing alarmed

Calls it ‘provocative action’, warns America to correct mistake26 May 2017 | 1:29 AM

WASHINGTON/BEIJING:The US has sent a navy warship near an artificial island in the disputed South China Sea as part of the first "freedom of navigation" operation under President Donald Trump, prompting China to say the "provocative action" violated its sovereignty.

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Washington/Beijing, May 25 

The US has sent a navy warship near an artificial island in the disputed South China Sea as part of the first "freedom of navigation" operation under President Donald Trump, prompting China to say the "provocative action" violated its sovereignty. 

The guided-missile destroyer, USS Dewey, patrolled within 20 km of Mischeef Reef, part of the Spratly Islands over which several countries, including China, have competing claims. 

A crucial shipping route, China claims ownership of the vast majority of the South China Sea, including the Paracel and Spratly island chains, a claim disputed by numerous other countries including the Philippines and Vietnam. The Chinese government has reclaimed land and built up artificial islands in the sea, including on Mischief Reef, and deployed military assets to them.

The exercise is the first since October and comes after friendly exchanges between the US and China to settle trade issues and vows to cooperate to contain the nuclear programme of North Korea, a Chinese ally. 

Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis said, "We operate in the Asia-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea. We operate in accordance with international law."  The patrols are "not about any one country, or any one body of water", he told the Wall Street Journal. 

In Beijing, China reacted sharply to the action saying the US warship had entered the South China Sea "without permission".

China's Defence Ministry said two Chinese frigates had "warned and dispelled" the US Navy ship after it had entered its waters "without permission." "We firmly opposed to the US behaviour of showing force and boosting regional militarisation, and have made solemn representation to the US side," Defence Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said.

China's Foreign Ministry too criticised the US move. "The act damaged China's sovereignty and security interests, and could have easily led to an air or sea accident," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang said.

"[China] resolutely opposes any country sailing or flying freely that could pose damage to China's sovereignty and security interests. At present, through the joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries, the South China Sea situation has cooled down." "The acts of the US have seriously disrupted the process of dialogue and consultation." “We urge the US to correct this mistake,” he said.

Meanwhile, responding to China's protest, the Pentagon today defended its latest Freedom of Navigation Operations in SCS, asserting that these are as per well established international norms. 

“US forces operate in the Asia-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the SCS. All operations are conducted in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the US will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allow," Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman said. "We have a comprehensive Freedom of Navigation Operations programme that seeks to challenge excessive maritime claims to preserve the rights, freedoms, and uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to nations under international law.” —  PTI 

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US to probe Manchester leaks  as UK Police stop sharing intel

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Iran builds 3rd underground missile factory

26 May 2017 | 1:29 AM

ANKARA:Iran has built a third underground ballistic missile production factory and will keep developing its missile programme, the semi-official Fars news agency quoted a senior commander of the elite Revolutionary Guard as saying.

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Manchester bomber passed through German airport: Police

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LONDON: A number of anti-Muslim incidents have been reported in the UK after the Manchester bombing with a Muslim woman spat on while a teenaged Muslim girl taunted by a passer-by who said, “When are you going to stop bombing people”.

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LONDON: An army bomb disposal unit and police officers rushed to a college in the suburbs of Manchester on Thursday responding to a call, prompting a lockdown of the area and heightening security fears following the concert bombing that claimed 22 lives.

Iran has built third underground ballistic missile factory: Report

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25 May 2017 | 3:11 PM

ANKARA: Iran has built a third underground ballistic missile production factory and will keep developing its missile programme, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Thursday, in a development likely to fuel tension with Arab neighbours and Washington.

Net migration to Britain 2,48,000 in 2016: Official data

25 May 2017 | 2:40 PM

LONDON: Net migration to Britain was 2,48,000 last year, official data showed on Thursday, down 84,000 from 2015 but still more than double the government's target level.

Indonesian Prez urges calm after suspected suicide attacks in Jakarta

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25 May 2017 | 12:35 PM

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s President urged people to remain calm on Thursday, a day after suspected suicide bombers killed three police officers on duty at a Jakarta bus terminal in an attack authorities said bore the hallmarks of globally inspired Islamist militants.

Taiwan same-sex marriage ruling brightens outlook for gay rights in China

25 May 2017 | 12:04 PM

BEIJING: Taiwan’s decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry has proved a shot in the arm for China’s gay rights movement, but it is likely to be many years before Beijing approves similar measures, amid deep-rooted opposition in some quarters.

Ex-Haiti President’s autopsy shows leader died of heart disease

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25 May 2017 | 12:02 PM

PORT-AU-PRINCE: The eagerly anticipated results of an autopsy of former Haitian President Rene Preval showed the leader died in March after a heart irregularity cut off his ability to breathe, officials said on Wednesday.

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25 May 2017 | 11:55 AM

WASHINGTON: Senior Russian intelligence and political officials discussed how to influence Donald Trump through his advisers according to information gathered by American spies last summer, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.

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25 May 2017 | 11:51 AM

BRASILIA: Protesters demanding the resignation of Brazilian President Michel Temer staged running battles with police and set fire to a ministry building in Brasilia on Wednesday, prompting the scandal-hit leader to order the army onto the streets.

Under US Republican Bill, 23 mn would lose health coverage: Watchdog

25 May 2017 | 11:38 AM

WASHINGTON: A Bill passed by US House Republicans would cause 23 million people to lose health care coverage by 2026 while de-stabilising health insurance markets in some states and making it hard for sick people to buy insurance, a budget watchdog agency said on Wednesday.

Liberals finish ahead in British Columbia poll, but lose majority

25 May 2017 | 11:33 AM

VANCOUVER: British Columbia’s ruling Liberal Party won the General Election in the Western Canadian province earlier this month but lost its legislative majority, according to final voting figures on Wednesday, which were in line with preliminary results.

Ten die in police operation at Brazil farm

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25 May 2017 | 11:31 AM

SAO PAULO: Nine men and a woman were killed during a police operation in northeastern Brazil that activists say was linked to a long-running conflict over land rights in the country.

UK police make 2 more arrests in Manchester bombing case

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25 May 2017 | 3:49 PM

LONDON: Two more men were arrested on Thursday by the UK police after searches in Manchester in connection with a deadly suicide bombing at a pop concert this week, taking the total number of men in custody to eight.

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