Rabu, 16 April 2014

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Singapore accepts Indonesia apology over warship row

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 04:45 AM PDT

SINGAPORE, April 16, 2014 (AFP) - Singapore on Wednesday welcomed an apology from Indonesia's military chief over the naming of a warship after two marines who staged a deadly bombing in the city-state in 1965.

Singapore reacted furiously in February when the refurbished frigate was named "KRI Usman Harun", lodging a diplomatic complaint with Jakarta and banning the vessel from its ports and naval bases.

Tensions escalated last month after the Indonesian navy dressed two marines as the executed bombers at a defence exhibition in Jakarta.

"Once again I apologise. We have no ill intent whatsoever to stir emotions. Not at all," military chief General Moeldoko, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, said in an interview with Singapore broadcaster Channel NewsAsia that was aired on Tuesday.

Moeldoko, however, said that the ship will not be renamed.

Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen welcomed the apology on Wednesday, saying it was a "constructive gesture to improve bilateral defence ties".

This will "strengthen the mutual understanding and friendship that has been built up over many decades," he said in a statement.

Usman Haji Mohamed Ali and Harun Said were executed in Singapore for their roles in the March 1965 blast at a downtown office complex which killed three people and injured 33.

Indonesia considers the two men to be national heroes. Their attack was part of an effort by then Indonesian president Sukarno to stage an armed confrontation against the newly formed federation of Malaysia, which included Singapore.

In his Channel NewsAsia interview, Moeldoko said: "Indonesia didn't think that 'Usman Harun' would eventually turn into a polemic such as this."

"It is my responsibility as the commander-in-chief of the (Indonesian armed forces) to offer a clarification and to take steps to ensure that the situation does not escalate," he added.

Indonesia is Singapore's third largest trading partner, with total trade between the Southeast Asian neighbours reaching Sg$79.4 billion ($62.6 billion) in 2012.

Relations hit a low point in the late 1990s after the fall of former dictator Suharto, and his successor B.J. Habibie famously referred to the tiny city-state as a "little red dot" on the map.

Bilateral ties have improved considerably in recent years. - AFP

William, Kate and baby George kick off Australia tour

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 10:30 PM PDT

Sydney (AFP) - Prince William and his wife Kate flew into Sydney on Wednesday with their baby son George to kick off the Australian leg of their tour Down Under.

The royals disembarked from an Australian air force 737 under sunny skies after arriving from New Zealand, an AFP photographer said.

Eight-month-old Prince George was in his mother's arms as Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove -- who represents William's grandmother Queen Elizabeth II in Australia -- greeted the couple at Kingsford Smith airport.

A grand reception by the state of New South Wales awaited in the afternoon at the harbourside Opera House, where several thousand onlookers had gathered.

A new poll published Wednesday showed support for a republic in Australia, where the British queen remains head of state, has dropped to a more than two-decade low.

Some 51 percent oppose switching from a constitutional monarchy to a republic, compared to 42 percent who support it, according to the Fairfax-Nielsen survey of 1,400 people carried out from Thursday to Saturday.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were greeted by crowds in the tens of thousands during their 10-day tour of New Zealand, even in small regional towns such as Blenheim and Cambridge.

The royals visit the Blue Mountains on Thursday, Brisbane on April 19 and Uluru (Ayers Rock) on April 22.

They head to Adelaide on April 23 and the capital Canberra on April 24 and 25, before flying home.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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