Briefs, December 29, 2012

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 December, 2012, 3:54am

Philippines objects to China's sea deployment

MANILA - The Philippines said yesterday it "strongly objects" to China's deployment of a new patrol vessel in the South China Sea, where the two countries have a seething territorial dispute. Such patrols would not boost China's claim to the disputed territory, where the two countries have been in a stand-off since April, Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said. He called on China to respect his country's "territorial sovereignty". AFP


Japanese ships leave port for whaling hunt

TOKYO - Japanese vessels left port for the Southern Ocean on their annual whaling hunt. Three vessels departed from Shimonoseki, while environmental group Greenpeace said the mother ship had left a second port in the country's west. The fleet plans to hunt up to 935 Antarctic minke and up to 50 fin whales. AFP


Sri Lankan pair deny Tigers charges in US

NEW YORK - Two men from Sri Lanka have pleaded not guilty in the United States to charges that they sought to give military support to the Tamil Tigers rebel force. The men were extradited from Canada to face the charges and have been ordered held without bail. One is charged with conspiring to procure US$1 million in missiles and other weapons for the Tigers, while the other is accused of helping the group obtain design software for submarines and warships. AFP


Prominent dissident detained in Vietnam

HANOI - Vietnamese police detained a well-known dissident lawyer, escalating a crackdown on figures who speak out against the country's one-party, authoritarian rule. Le Quoc Quan was arrested on his way to drop off his children at school on Thursday in Hanoi. The state-run Tuoi Tre newspaper reported that Quan, 41, was held for tax evasion. He needed hospital treatment in August after being beaten by men he said were sent by the state. AP


Abe, Putin to restart peace treaty talks

TOKYO -Japan's new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed to restart talks on a peace treaty hampered since the second world war by a territorial row. In a 20-minute phone conversation, Abe also agreed to visit Russia at an "appropriate" date in 2013. AFP