In brief: Defense secretary begins China visit
BEIJING – U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is meeting with his Chinese counterpart at the start of a long-awaited visit to Beijing that formally reopens military exchanges.
Gates met with Liang Guanglie at the Chinese Defense Ministry this morning and will remain in Beijing for three days. He is also meeting with other top Chinese leaders including president and Communist Party chief Hu Jintao, who is himself scheduled to travel to the U.S. next week for a state visit.
Gates is the first American defense secretary to visit Beijing since 2000. His trip marks the official restoration of contacts with the Chinese military that were suspended by Beijing last year after the U.S. announced a $6.4 billion arms package for Taiwan.
S. Korea, Japan eye military pact
SEOUL, South Korea – South Korean and Japanese defense chiefs will start military talks on accords to share intelligence and provide each other with fuel and medical support.
A Defense Ministry official said today that the accords, if signed, will be the countries’ first military treaty since Tokyo’s colonial rule of the Korean peninsula ended in 1945.
The official said the accords won’t be signed during today’s one-day talks. It was unclear when the signing could happen.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the issue’s sensitivity.
South Korea and Japan are important trading and diplomatic partners. But their relations still suffer over territorial and historical disputes stemming from Japan’s brutal 35-year colonial occupation.
Strong quake felt near Vanuatu
SYDNEY, Australia – A strong earthquake struck under the sea near the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu on Sunday, but there were no reports of damage or injuries, and officials said there was no significant tsunami threat.
The U.S. Geological Survey said Sunday’s quake measured magnitude 6.6 and was centered 66 miles northwest of the remote island of Isangel at a depth of 10 miles.
Vanuatu is part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire” – an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones stretching from South America through Alaska and down through the South Pacific.
Pieces of ancient colossus located
CAIRO, Egypt – Archaeologists have unearthed six missing pieces from a 3,400-year-old colossal double statue of a powerful pharaoh and his queen.
The Supreme Council of Antiquities said in a statement Sunday the fragments of the statue of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye were discovered on the west bank of the Nile in the southern city of Luxor.
An Italian team restored the statue after it was first unearthed in 1889, filling in the missing pieces with modern stonework.
The recovered fragments were from the right side of Amenhotep III’s chest, crown and leg, and a section of the queen’s leg, left arm and foot.
The original pieces will be fitted to the statue, which is on display in the main hall of Cairo’s Egyptian Museum.