Under the Radar News 02.18.11

Posted on Friday, February 18, 2011 by Lana Buu

A weekly compilation of underreported events in Asia

  • High level meetings between South Korea and Indonesia in Seoul to boost bilateral defense cooperation and defense procurement. Indonesia is reportedly leaning towards South Korea as the preferred negotiator for its planned purchase of advanced T-50 trainer jets.

  • The Shimoda Conference of nongovernmental policy dialogue between the United States and Japan is scheduled to restart after a 17-year hiatus. The Conference was held nine times between 1967 and 1994 to discuss a variety of issues, with the aim to lay the foundation for a more mature and productive relationship between Japan and the U.S.

  • Japan and India have signed a free trade pact, making them each other’s biggest free-trade partners and will do away with tariffs on 94% of trade between the two countries within 10 years, according to the Japanese government. India’s trade minister proposed setting up a revolving fund of $9 billion jointly with Japan to help finance an industrial and transport link.

  • Petroliam Nasional Bhd., Malaysia’s state energy company, said its discovery of “major” oil and gas discoveries off the coast of Sarawak may help replenish the Southeast Asian nation’s diminishing reserves.

  • Philippine troops formally declared a SOMO (suspension of offensive military operations) between February 14 and February 21 with leftist rebels following the resumption of peace talks in Oslo this week.

  • In China, the Ministry of Land and Resources has established national mining areas. The sites are Ganzhou in Central Jiangxi Province for rare earth and the Panzhihua-Xichang area in Southwestern Sichuan Province for iron. According to Beijing, the Ganzhou mining area alone will probably push the proven reserves of heavy rare earth up by 80 percent.

  • At a meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum Ministerial Contact Group (MCG) in Vanuatu, Australia has again urged Fiji to hold democratic elections soon. Fijian President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau said holding general elections in 2014 is part of the road map of the current Fijian regime.

  • According to a top government official, India plans to withdraw 10,000 paramilitary troops from Indian-held Kashmir (IHK) this year and renew efforts to hold talks in the rebellion-hit Himalayan region. There are currently 70,000 paramilitary troops in Indian Kashmir plus 100,000-150,000 army soldiers.

  • The Vietnam Food Association (VFA) has ordered its members to buy 1 million tons of rice from farmers and stock the amount for three months to keep up the price for the grain. Consumption is currently a problem since firms have secured no deals for the second quarter onwards, making it necessary to maintain domestic prices at a high level and support export deals, the bloc said.

  • The Indonesian military (TNI) has decided to accept a grant of two squadrons of F-16A/B Fighting Falcon fighter planes from the United States, TNI Chief Marshall Agus Suhartono said on Monday. The TNI has also programmed the procurement of six more advanced F-16 fighter planes from the US by 2014.

  • China is in talks with Colombia to build a 'dry canal' linking Colombia's Atlantic and Pacific coasts by rail. The 220km project, dubbed as an alternative to the Panama canal, is one of a series of Chinese proposals that would boost transport links with Asia and improve Colombia's infrastructure.

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