World briefs: China plans 2nd oil rig

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HANOI, Vietnam — The day after tough talks between Vietnam and China that made no progress over a Chinese oil rig in the South China Sea, Beijing said Thursday it was sending a second rig to waters close to Vietnam.

The move, announced on China’s Maritime Safety Administration website, appeared to be an unabashed signal that China will press ahead to secure what it sees as its rights in the commercially and strategically vital waterway despite rising anxiety in the region.

Last month, in a contentious move, China sent its biggest oil rig, a prized $1 billion platform the size of a football field, to explore in an area 17 miles off the Paracel Islands claimed by both Vietnam and China.

The dispatch of the second rig, described by its owner, the China National Offshore Oil Co., as the second largest in its growing fleet of rigs, began Wednesday, according Chinese officials..

It was not immediately clear if the second rig would end up in waters disputed by Vietnam and China.

Mexican energy bill

MEXICO CITY — Political wrangling means Mexico’s Congress is unlikely to approve before July legislation to complete an energy overhaul at the center of President Enrique Pena Nieto's economic agenda, lawmakers said on Thursday.

The ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, had hoped to pass in June the so-called secondary laws for a reform that will offer oil production and exploration rights to private companies, ending a state monopoly that dates to 1938.

Panicked refugees flee

BAKA KHEL, Pakistan — Thousands of refugees poured out of Pakistan's North Waziristan on Thursday, terrified by both state troops and Taliban insurgents fighting for control of the troubled region.

Pakistan announced the start of a full-on military offensive on Sunday to quash an increasingly assertive Pakistani Taliban insurgency in the ethnic Pashtun region, the base of some of the country's most feared al-Qaida-linked militants.

Officers released

ISTANBUL — Turkey’s highest criminal court on Thursday ordered the release and retrial of 230 military officers who were convicted in 2012 of trying to overthrow the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The decision by the constitutional court came one day after it had delivered a landmark ruling saying that the defendants’ rights had been violated.

The case was widely viewed by legal and forensic experts as tainted by dubious evidence, and was seen as an act of revenge carried out by Turkey’s Islamists, including the prime minister, against their former oppressors in the military.

Embarrassing secrets

WARSAW — Poland's opposition, sections of the media, and rights campaigners on Thursday accused senior officials of using law enforcement agencies to try to stop a magazine publishing secret tapes that are embarrassing for the government.

Late on Wednesday prosecutors and officers from Poland's internal security agency raided the offices of the Wprost weekly magazine that has already published some of the recordings and is planning to release more next Monday.

The audio tapes — and the government's response to them— have tarnished the image of Poland, the European Union's biggest eastern economy, as a model post-communist democracy.


-- Compiled from news services


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