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China, India Expand Navies, Regional Ambitions

China and India are rapidly expanding their naval forces, increasing the possibility of future confrontation as Asia's two leading emerging economies seek to project their power.

India's navy chief, Admiral D.K. Joshi, this week called the modernization of China's naval forces "truly impressive" and a source of "major concern," pledging to protect Indian interests in the South China Sea.

China's rising power in the region is raising concerns in New Delhi that Beijing will try to dominate the Indian Ocean with a series of planned naval ports encircling India.

India Vows to Protect S. China Sea Interests

As India vows to protect its interests in the South China Sea, China has reiterated that it has indisputable sovereignty of the islands and the surrounding waters. India is not directly involved in the disputes over the South China Sea, but has begun gas exploration in the waters which China claims.

Navy Chief Admiral, D.K. Joshi made the assertion that India will not back off from protecting its maritime and economic interests.

NATO to Discuss Anti-Missile System for Turkey

NATO foreign ministers will discuss sending a missile defense system to Turkey in response to the continuing violence in Syria. In Brussels, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the regularly scheduled two-day ministers' meeting this week will also discuss other aspects of the Syria issue, as well as NATO's operations in Afghanistan.

​​Secretary General Rasmussen said the NATO ministers will discuss Turkey's request for the American Patriot missile defense system on Wednesday.

Venezuela's Chavez Returning to Cuba for Medical Treatment

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is returning to Cuba for medical treatment.

Chavez disclosed his travel plans Tuesday in a letter to the country's National Assembly.

The president says doctors have recommended a special treatment known as hyperbaric oxygenation, which involves breathing pure oxygen in a sealed chamber.

The American Cancer Society says it can be used to prevent bone decay following radiation therapy.

Chavez says that treatment, combined with physical therapy, will consolidate the process of strengthening his health.

Analysts: China Aircraft Carrier Landing Poses No Direct Threat

Western analysts say China's recent landing of a Russian-designed fighter jet on an aircraft carrier, though significant, poses no immediate regional or international security threats.

In reports published Sunday, China's state-run news agencies said the navy landed several Chinese-made J-15 jets on the carrier Liaoning in the past week. The reports said the warplanes also took off successfully.

Chinese military analysts described the daytime landings and take-offs as a "landmark" in the navy's efforts to develop the combat capability of the Liaoning, China's first aircraft carrier.

Lavrov: US To Seek Compromise Agreements With Russia On Security, Economy

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says his U.S. counterpart Hillary Clinton has indicated that the United States will search for compromise agreements on security and business with Russia.

Lavrov met with Clinton Tuesday in Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh, on the sidelines of a regional security meeting. He said Secretary Clinton promised that the United States will continue efforts to forge a defense plan for Europe that would protect Russia's security.

Afghan Opium Farming Grows, Disease Cuts Output

The United Nations says more land in Afghanistan is being used to grow poppies for opium, but that production of the crop has fallen this year because of plant diseases and bad weather.

A report Tuesday from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said opium output has dropped by 36 percent compared to 2011. That is despite an 18-percent increase in the amount of land covered by the poppy crop.

2 Tibetans Dead After Self-Immolation Protests

Tibetan sources tell VOA that two Tibetans have died after setting themselves on fire in the western Chinese province of Qinghai in the latest self-immolation protests against Chinese rule.

The sources with contacts in the region told VOA's Tibetan service that Kabum Gyal, 18,and Dangzin Dolma, 23, set themselves alight on Thursday in separate parts of Tongren county, known in Tibetan as Rebkong. They said the two died at the scene of their protests and do not appear to be related.

Burma Issues Prisoner Amnesty Ahead of Obama Visit

Activists dismissed the Burmese government's latest move to release hundreds of prisoners, saying it is a ploy to gain political support ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to the country.

State media said Thursday that President Thein Sein will pardon 452 prisoners in an effort to promote bilateral relations. Officials said political prisoners will be among those released, but activists and rights groups said they have not yet seen any dissidents freed.