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Apr 16, 2015

Australia chases India trade deal as China slows, iron ore tumbles

SYDNEY, April 16 (Reuters) – Slowing growth in top trade
partner China and plunging prices for iron ore and coal are
adding impetus to Australian efforts to secure a free trade deal
with India by the end of the year.

Officials are meeting in Canberra this week, a source
familiar with the talks said, the second round of official
discussions since Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Indian
counterpart Narendra Modi agreed in November to accelerate
long-running but slow-moving negotiations.

Mar 19, 2015

South Pacific’s Vanuatu provides lessons in cyclone survival

PORT VILA/SYDNEY (Reuters) – Villagers in Vanuatu buried food and fresh water as one of the strongest storms on record bore down on them, fleeing to churches, schools and even coconut drying kilns as 300 kph winds and massive seas tore their flimsy houses to the ground.

Despite reports of utter devastation six days after Cyclone Pam pummeled the impoverished South Pacific island nation, Vanuatu appears to be providing something of a lesson in how to survive a category 5 storm.

Mar 18, 2015

Vanuatu islanders adopt well-honed survival techniques in teeth of huge storm

PORT VILA/SYDNEY, March 18 (Reuters) – Aid groups and
survivors of one of the world’s most powerful storms on record
are hoping that early warnings, concrete-walled homes, cave
refuges and a healthy respect for the sea have saved the South
Pacific nation of Vanuatu from a huge death toll.

Officials say the toll, which stands at just 11, is certain
to rise as news still dribbles in from isolated, outlying
communities in the island chain. But traditional coping
mechanisms may have helped prevent a much greater disaster.

Mar 17, 2015

Pacific nations to highlight Cyclone Pam in climate talks

SYDNEY, March 17 (Reuters) – Pacific Islands devastated by
Cyclone Pam at the weekend will be using the disaster to drive
home the need for a globally funded insurance pool to aid in the
recovery from such events when they attend climate-change talks
in Paris later this year.

Ian Fry, the chief climate-change negotiator for the tiny
island nation of Tuvalu, said the establishment of a permanent
fund to help countries cope with the impact of climate-related
disasters and other “slow-onset events” such as rising sea
levels was a key goal for negotiations at the United Nations
Climate Change Conference in Paris later this year.

Mar 16, 2015

As cyclone bore down, Vanuatu president, disaster officials left for conference

SENDAI, Japan/SYDNEY (Reuters) – When Vanuatu President Baldwin Lonsdale and top disaster officials left their South Pacific island home on March 10, heading to a U.N. summit in Japan, Cyclone Pam was gathering strength and dumping heavy rain to the north.

By the time he addressed the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai on Saturday, asking for assistance in a quavering voice, Pam had strengthened into one of the most powerful Pacific storms on record.

Mar 16, 2015

Aid teams report devastation and death after Vanuatu cyclone

WELLINGTON/SYDNEY (Reuters) – The first reports from the outer islands of Vanuatu on Monday painted a picture of utter destruction after a monster cyclone tore through the Pacific island nation.

Authorities in the South Pacific nation were struggling to establish contact with the islands that bore the brunt of Cyclone Pam’s winds of more than 300 kph (185 mph), which flattened buildings, smashed boats and washed away roads and bridges as it struck late on Friday and into Saturday.

Mar 15, 2015

Aid heads for Vanuatu after devastating Pacific cyclone

SYDNEY (Reuters) – The first shipments of aid landed in Vanuatu on Sunday as authorities declared a state of emergency and global relief agencies geared up after a “monster” cyclone tore through the vulnerable Pacific island nation.

With winds of more than 300 kph (185 mph), Cyclone Pam razed homes, smashed boats and destroyed crops as it struck late on Friday and into Saturday. Aid workers described the situation as catastrophic.

Mar 6, 2015

Australia complains over Indonesia’s treatment of death row prisoners

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia has complained about the treatment of two drug smugglers, who face execution in Indonesia, and wants to lodge a formal protest after photographs were published of a smiling police chief with the men, officials said on Friday.

The planned executions of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, have ramped up diplomatic tension between Australia and Indonesia after repeated pleas for mercy on their behalf. They are among a group of up to 11 convicts, mostly foreigners, due to be executed soon on the prison island of Nusakambangan.

Mar 4, 2015

Australia seeks Indonesia prisoner swap as executions loom

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s foreign minister said on Thursday she had proposed a prisoner swap with her Indonesian counterpart in an 11th hour effort to save the lives of two Australian drug smugglers expected to face a firing squad within days.

The planned executions of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, have ratcheted up diplomatic tension between Australia and Indonesia following repeated pleas for mercy on their behalf. They are among a group of up to 11 convicts, mostly foreigners, due to be executed on the prison island of Nusakambangan.

Feb 11, 2015

Australian anti-terror police say imminent IS-linked attack thwarted

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian counter-terrorism police said on Wednesday they had thwarted an imminent attack linked to Islamic State after arresting two men in Sydney and seizing knives, a video and a flag associated with the militant group.

Australia, a staunch ally of the United States and its action against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, has been on heightened alert for attacks by home-grown Islamist radicals since last year.

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      "Company news sub editor on the Asia Desk in Singapore. Previously European Investment Correspondent in London and Correspondent in New Zealand."
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