World briefs: Indian diplomat arrest in NY raises tensions

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NEW DELHI -- The arrest and strip search of an Indian diplomat in New York City escalated into a major diplomatic furor Tuesday as India's national security adviser called the woman's treatment "despicable and barbaric."

Devyani Khobragade, India's deputy consul general in New York, is accused of submitting false documents to obtain a work visa for her Manhattan housekeeper. Indian officials said she was arrested and handcuffed Thursday as she dropped off her daughter at school, and was kept in a cell with drug addicts before posting $250,000 bail.

"We understand that this is a sensitive issue for many in India," said Marie Harf, State Department deputy spokeswoman. "Accordingly, we are looking into the intake procedures surrounding this arrest to ensure that all appropriate procedures were followed and every opportunity for courtesy was extended."

Japan boosts military

TOKYO -- Taking his nation another step further from its postwar pacifism, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved a new defense plan Tuesday that calls for acquiring airborne drones and amphibious assault vehicles to strengthen Japan's military as it faces the prospect of a prolonged rivalry with China over islands in the East China Sea.

The move reverses a decade of military spending cuts to offset a rapid military buildup by China and the relative decline of U.S. influence.

The spending plan was approved by the Cabinet in tandem with a new national security strategy that calls for creating a more dynamic military force, as well as loosening self-imposed restrictions on exporting weapons and nurturing a stronger sense of patriotism in Japan's public. Under the new strategy, Japan will build closer military ties with the United States.

South Sudan death toll

UNITED NATIONS -- U.N. diplomats say hundreds of people, possibly as high as 500, are estimated dead in violence in South Sudan. But that figure could not be verified.

The South Sudan president has blamed the violence on a coup attempt by soldiers loyal to his former deputy. While the president of the U.N. Security Council says the fighting in the world's newest country is "apparently largely along ethnic lines."

U.S., Philippines pact

MANILA, Philippines -- U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Tuesday that the United States would give the Philippines $40 million in maritime security assistance and was negotiating with Manila to rotate more U.S. military forces through the country, the latest signs of the Obama administration's concerns about mounting pressure from China on its neighbors.

Both steps have been months in preparation, and Mr. Kerry took pains not to portray them as direct responses to the most recent difficulties in Sino-American relations.

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BP Plc led a group of companies signing a $45 billion deal to pipe natural gas from Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz field to Italy, offering the European Union an alternative to Russian supplies. ... The British government signaled Tuesday that it was intensifying its efforts to encourage the development of shale gas production, with plans to award a new set of shale drilling licenses next year despite persistent opposition from environmental groups. These groups have warned about the danger posed by shale gas development done through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.


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