US - TAIWAN - CHINA : China's foreign minister says U.S. plans to sell weapons to Taiwan harm China's national security and its reunification efforts.
In remarks reported Sunday, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said in Cyprus (Saturday) that China firmly opposes the move, which he said runs counter to the U.S. commitment to support the peaceful growth of cross-Strait relations.
A U.S. State Department spokesman (P.J. Crowley) said Saturday that U.S. policy toward Taiwan contributes to stability and security in the region.
U.S. officials announced Friday plans to sell Taiwan $6.4 billion in military equipment. China's Defense Ministry said the sale would result in severe harm to China-US cooperation. On Saturday, China suspended military exchanges and security talks with the United States. China also threatened sanctions on U.S. firms that sell Taiwan arms. In Taiwan, President Ma Ying-jeou said the arms deal will boost the island's defenses and give it a sense of security as it builds closer economic ties with mainland China.
US - GULF - IRAN: U.S. media reports say the United States is speeding up the deployment of anti-missile defenses in four Persian Gulf nations as it continues to confront Iran over its nuclear program. The reports say the United States is also beefing up its naval presence in the region with special ships with the ability to shoot down missiles. According to U.S. military officials, the four nations which have agreed to deploy the anti-missile systems are Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The deployments are said to be part of a broader campaign by the Obama administration to increase pressure on Iran, which denies charges that is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons.
YEMEN-REBELS: Officials in Yemen say fighting broke out Sunday between the country's armed forces and Shi'ite rebels, killing at least 20 people.
The fighting occurred the day after the leader of the Shi'ite rebels in northern Yemen said he wants an end to the clashes, and accepts the government's terms for a cease-fire. However, a government official said Sunday Sanaa is rejecting the cease-fire, as the rebels have not promised to end attacks on Saudi Arabia. Rebel leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi said (in an audio recording posted on the Internet) Saturday he agreed to government cease-fire terms to stop the bloodshed and avoid what he called "the annihilation of civilians." He said the next move was up to the Yemeni government.
HAITI-EARTHQUAKE: The U.S. military has temporarily suspended medicalevacuation flights from earthquake-devastated Haiti in a dispute over who will pay for victims' medical care in the United States.
An American doctor involved in relief efforts in Port-au-Prince predicted Saturday the impasse could result in death in a matter of days for as many as 100 of his patients. Dr. Barth Green said the patients need to be flown to better hospitals. The U.S. military said it stopped the flights Wednesday, after some U.S. state governments voiced concern about who will pay for the evacuees' treatment.
HONG KONG BUILDINGS: Authorities in Hong Kong have announced plans to inspect some 4,000 buildings that are 50 years of age or older, following the collapse of a housing structure that took the lives of at least four people.
A statement issued by the Hong Kong government on Saturday says 40 teams of professional and technical staff will carry out the building inspections in parts of Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories. The teams are to begin work on February 1, and are expected to complete the project in about a month. The government will then follow up with what is termed "needed remedial action."
AFRICAN UNION - SUMMIT: Malawi's president, Bingu wa Mutharika, emerged Sunday as the new chairman of the 53-member African Union, following a contentious session of the group's Executive Council.
By tradition, the chairmanship rotates annually among Africa's five regions, and this year was southern Africa's turn. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was among the opening speakers at the conference, which has the official theme of information technology.
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