- Cyber disputes loom large as Obama meets China's Xi
- Gunman kills six in California spree and is shot dead by police
- Brazil's Indian affairs chief resigns amid land tensions
Posted: 07 Jun 2013 07:59 PM PDT
RANCHO MIRAGE, California (Reuters) - President Barack Obama told Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday that the United States welcomes China's "peaceful rise" and seeks a world order where all countries play by the same rules on thorny issues like cybersecurity.
At the start of a two-day summit at a luxurious desert estate in southern California, Obama said the world's two biggest economies must strike a balance between competition and cooperation to overcome the challenges that divide them.
But tensions over cybersecurity could test the two leaders' ability to get along in meetings billed as an informal get-to-know-you encounter at the sprawling Sunnylands compound near Palm Springs.
In their talks, Obama plans to complain to Xi about suspected Chinese hacking of U.S. secrets, even as the White House faces growing questions at home over American government surveillance.
"The United States welcomes the continuous peaceful rise of China as a world power," Obama said as the two leaders delivered statements before sitting down for closed-door meetings.
But honing in on the top U.S. concerns, Obama said Washington seeks "an international economic order where nations are playing by the same rules, where trade is free and fair and where the United States and China work together to address issues like cybersecurity and protection of intellectual property."
Xi, meeting Obama for the first time since assuming the presidency in March, expressed the hope that China and the United States could build a new model of "big country" relations - alluding to his desire that Beijing be treated more in line with its growing international clout.
"Relations between our two countries are at a new historical starting point," Xi said, describing the talks as a chance to "chart the future" of U.S.-China relations.
Obama welcomed Xi in withering heat at the Sunnylands retreat, and the smiling leaders posed for a handshake photo against a backdrop of manicured gardens and barren desert mountains in the distance. Both wore suits without neckties.
High-level U.S.-Chinese encounters of recent decades have been unable to match President Richard Nixon's groundbreaking visit to Communist China in 1972 that ended decades of estrangement between Washington and Beijing.
U.S. officials believe Obama and Xi will develop personal rapport - something lacking between American presidents and Xi's notoriously stiff predecessor, Hu Jintao - that could help ease tensions in one of the world's most important bilateral relationships.
A willingness to forgo the traditional pomp and scripted discussions of a White House visit appears to signal a fresh approach by Xi, who as president-in-waiting met Obama in Washington in February 2012. He is a Communist Party "princeling," the son of a revolutionary leader. But he is also fond of Hollywood movie war dramas.
OBAMA SEEKS ASSURANCES
Obama wants Xi's assurance that he takes seriously accusations of growing Chinese cyber spying, including snooping on advanced U.S. weapons designs, and will act to curb the problem.
But Xi, who made no mention of cybersecurity in their brief appearance before reporters, may not be in a conciliatory mood.
He is expected to voice discomfort over Washington's strategic "pivot" toward Asia, a military rebalancing of U.S. forces toward the Pacific that Beijing sees as an effort to hamper its economic and political expansion.
And Obama's protests about Chinese cyberspying might be blunted by news that the U.S. government has been quietly collecting the telephone records of millions of Americans as part of U.S. counter-terrorism efforts.
More questions were raised about the extent of U.S. government domestic spying when the Washington Post reported that the National Security Agency and the FBI are also tapping into the central servers of leading American Internet companies to examine emails and photos.
Obama, visiting California's Silicon Valley earlier on Friday, staunchly defended the surveillance, calling it a "modest encroachment" on privacy that was necessary to protect the United States from terrorist attack.
Beijing insists it is more a victim than a perpetrator of cyber espionage. China's top internet security official said this week that he has "mountains of data" pointing to U.S. hacking aimed at China.
But the U.S. Congress is losing patience, particularly after a report that Chinese hackers had gained access to design plans for U.S. weapons systems like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. China denied that, saying it needed no outside help for its military development.
The two leaders may try to deflect pressure at the summit for immediate progress on cyber disputes by promising more in-depth deliberations by a U.S.-China "working group" already set to convene in July for the first time.
Speaking to reporters inside while the two leaders sat across from each other, Obama spoke in a cordial tone but wasted little time before ticking off some of their chief differences, including North Korea, China's human rights and climate change.
In keeping with the new tone of informality, the Chinese officials were all dressed in the same ensemble: dark suit, white dress shirt with the top button unbuttoned, no ties.
Obama aides played down the chances of any big breakthroughs in more than five hours of talks with Xi over two days in Sunnylands, a 200-acre (81-hectare) desert estate that has hosted presidents such as Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.
However, Obama will be looking to build on growing Chinese impatience with North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs, a shift that could bring Beijing - the closest thing Pyongyang has to an ally - closer to Washington's position.
(Editing by Alistair Bell and Paul Simao)
Copyright © 2013 Reuters
Posted: 07 Jun 2013 05:52 PM PDT
SANTA MONICA, California (Reuters) - A gunman dressed in black killed at least six people in a string of shootings through the seaside California town of Santa Monica on Friday before he was shot dead by police in a community college library, law authorities said.
Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said a second individual she described as a "person of interest" was taken into custody in connection with the violence, which unfolded a few miles from where President Barack Obama was attending a political fundraiser.
Obama completed his remarks at the event without interruption and left town for a planned summit near Palm Springs with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The Secret Service called the shootings a "local police matter."
The rampage began east of Santa Monica College shortly before noon as police received multiple reports of a house fire, a carjacking and shootings in the area.
The bodies of two people were discovered at the fire scene and four more bodies were found at two other locations between the burning home and the college, police said.
Three women suffering gunshot wounds, one of whom was found in her car outside the burning home, were rushed to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where one later died.
The overall death toll was at least seven, including the gunman. Several other people were injured in the rampage, one of them a woman listed in critical condition, police and hospital officials said.
Police exchanged gunfire with the suspect outside the college and pursued him into a library, where he was shot and killed, Seabrooks said.
She said the exact sequence of events remained under investigation and authorities had no known motive for the rampage.
Earlier, a spokeswoman for the California Highway Patrol had told Reuters that officers received a report of a man armed with multiple weapons, including a shotgun, firing at passing cars and a bus at two locations near the college campus just west of Los Angeles.
Students at the campus library described a scene of pandemonium as the sounds of gunfire rang out, sending some scurrying for cover.
One student inside the library, Cyrus Jabari, 19, said he could see through a window a man dressed in black with a buzz-style haircut carrying what appeared to be an assault rifle.
"The only thing between me and him was a glass door," he told Reuters.
One unidentified witness to the shooting told a CNN affiliate that he saw a man drive up in a car near the campus, walk into the middle of an intersection with a gun and open fire at passing vehicles and a building before "he jumped back in the car and took off."
"It seemed like he was alone in his car," the witness said, saying that he took cover under the dashboard of his car, which was struck by gunfire. "I saw him jumping out of the car. He had a big, black gun in his hand and he just started blasting maybe 10 rounds from the left to the right."
Obama had been attending a fundraising event at the Santa Monica home of former News Corp President Peter Chernin at about the time of the shooting and had just finished his remarks. He made no mention of the incident.
A Secret Service spokesman in Washington said: "We are aware of the incident and it is not impacting the visit. It's a local police matter at this point."
(Reporting and writing by Steve Gorman; Additional reporting by Ron Grover, Dan Whitcomb and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, Tim Gaynor in Phoenix and Steve Holland in Santa Monica; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Philip Barbara)
Copyright © 2013 Reuters
Posted: 07 Jun 2013 05:46 PM PDT
BRASILIA (Reuters) - The head of Brazil's Indian affairs agency, Funai, has resigned due to health problems, it said on Friday, a decision that also comes amid escalating land conflicts between farmers and Indian tribes that led to the shooting an indigenous man last week.
Marta Maria do Amaral Azevedo's departure, after little more than a year at the government agency created to protect Indian tribes, comes after the government limited Funai's power to return land to tribes that it deems traditionally indigenous.
Funai's actions have come under heavy criticism in recent months after a series of land restitutions to Indians including a large area in the grain-farming belt from which Xavante Indians were evicted in the 1960s.
The government introduced new rules last month bringing other entities including the agriculture ministry into the process of deciding whether land areas were long-occupied by indigenous tribes and to be returned, sidelining Funai which previously had sole responsibility for the task.
The government sent 110 federal troops on Tuesday to a disputed property that Indians are occupying in Sidrolandia in Mato Grosso do Sul, to prevent more violence after an Indian was shot dead in chaos that erupted when they were ordered to leave.
Instead of a forced eviction, President Dilma Rousseff said the government would seek a resolution through negotiation. Indians have also repeatedly occupied the construction sites of hydroelectric dams they say will uproot them from their homes.
Funai said in a statement that Azevedo needed to undergo medical treatment incompatible with her schedule as head of the entity. It said its sustainable development director, Maria Augusta Assirati, was appointed interim president.
(Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello and Peter Murphy; Writing by Peter Murphy; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
Copyright © 2013 Reuters
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