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With Burma in Mind, China Quietly Supports Wa Rebels

While Burma's military steps up battles against Kachin rebels along the border with China, security analysts say Beijing has been quietly selling advanced weapons to another insurgent group on its border, the United Wa State Army. The Wa are the largest militia in Burma and considered the biggest narcotics dealing organization in Southeast Asia.

US 'Deeply Concerned' About Burma Fighting

The United States is "deeply concerned" by ongoing violence in Burma's Kachin state, where fighting continues between the army and rebel groups despite a cease-fire.

A statement from the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon Thursday said the Burmese army is continuing its offensive in the northeastern state. It cited media and NGO reports, and added that the offensive has resulted in civilian casualties and is undermining efforts to achieve national reconciliation.

Burma to End Offensive Against Kachin Rebels

Burma says it will end its offensive against ethnic minority rebels in the northern state of Kachin, in light of growing international criticism.

The government's information ministry on Friday announced a halt to military operations in the area.

The move comes as fighting between Kachin rebels and Burmese forces has moved closer to rebel headquarters in the town of Laiza and to a large number of displaced people.

Chinese Official Calls for Dialogue on Island Dispute

A senior Chinese leader is calling for talks with Japan to resolve an increasingly bitter dispute over a group of islands in the East China Sea.

Jia Qinglin, who heads China's top political advisory body, made the comments during a meeting with former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

The state-run China Daily quoted Jia as saying Beijing places "great importance" on its ties with Japan, and that the dispute should be resolved in order to preserve regional stability.

India Orders 'Aggressive' Response to Kashmir Provocation

India's army chief says he has ordered his commanders to deliver an "aggressive" response to any firing from Pakistani forces in disputed Kashmir.

General Bikram Singh said Monday that he expects his troops to fire back if they are provoked by Pakistani forces.

Singh's comments were made ahead of a meeting Monday between Indian and Pakistani commanders to discuss last week's deadly flare ups along the de factor border in Kashmir in which both Indian and Pakistani troops were killed.

Venezuela's President Fighting Severe Lung Infection

Venezuela's government says President Hugo Chavez is facing complications from a severe lung infection.

Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said Thursday that the lung infection has caused a "breathing insufficiency" that requires Chavez to strictly comply with medical treatment. He gave no further details.

The Venezuelan leader has not been seen in public since undergoing cancer surgery in Cuba on December 11. He was first diagnosed with cancer in 2011, but has never disclosed the type or severity.

Argentina Renews Dispute With Britain Over Falklands

British Prime Minister David Cameron has rejected a call by Argentina’s president for Britain to give control of the Falkland Islands to Argentina. Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner wrote an open letter to the British leader accusing his country of colonialism.

More than 30 years have passed since Britain and Argentina fought a 10-week war over the Falkland Islands, a British overseas territory in the southwest Atlantic Ocean, but their dispute continues.

VP: Venezuela's Chavez in 'Delicate' Condition

The vice president of Venezuela says President Hugo Chavez is in a "delicate" condition after cancer surgery last month in Cuba.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro said he visited Chavez twice in Cuba. In comments broadcast Tuesday on the Telesur network, Maduro said Chavez faces a complex and delicate situation following the December 11 operation.

Madura was returning to Venezuela Wednesday after visiting Cuba.

President Chavez was first diagnosed with cancer in mid-2011 and underwent surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. He has never disclosed the type or severity of the cancer.

Bhutto's Son Vows to Fight for Democracy in Pakistan

The son of Pakistan's slain former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, launched his political career Thursday, vowing to continue his mother's fight for democracy.

In a speech marking the fifth anniversary of the leader's death Thursday, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said his Pakistan People's Party pledged to work for the poor and protect Pakistan against "terrorists."

US to Sell South Korea Spy Drones

The Obama administration has formally proposed the sale of advanced spy drones to South Korea, in a push to boost the Seoul government's ability to protect itself from attacks by the heavily-militarized North.

The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement that it has officially notified Congress of the proposed $1.2 billion deal for four high-altitude Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft, as well as training and logistical support. Analysts say congressional approval is likely.

Venezuelan VP Says Chavez's Health Improving

Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro has reassured the nation that ailing President Hugo Chavez continues to recover from cancer surgery.

While touring a pediatric hospital in the capital, Caracas, Sunday Maduro told reporters that Chavez's health is improving with each day.

Russia Sends Naval Ships to Mediterranean, Eyes Syria Evacuation

Russia has sent warships to the Mediterranean after some of its senior diplomats said last week that Moscow may call for the evacuation of Russian citizens in Syria if the government in Damascus falls.

The Russian Defense Ministry said Tuesday that ships from its Baltic Fleet would replace other vessels that have been patrolling the Eastern Mediterranean since November.

The country's Interfax news agency quoted unnamed naval sources as saying the vessels were bound for Syria "to assist in a possible evacuation of Russian citizens."

Japan's Governing Party Resoundingly Ousted in Shift to Right

Japan's governing party has suffered a crushing election defeat. Results of parliamentary elections Sunday show the next government will be formed by the Liberal Democratic Party. The conservatives and their allies are expected to take a more hawkish approach in confronting the country's neighbors, but what they plan to do to reverse Japan's long economic decline remains murky.

Japanese voters, as forecast, have tossed out the party they brought into power three years ago.

Philippines Host Meetings with US Officials to Discuss Defense

As tensions continue to simmer between the Philippines and China over competing claims in the South China Sea, the Philippines is cleaving more closely to its Mutual Defense Treaty partner, the United States. Manila hosted several meetings this week with U.S. officials to discuss defense, maritime rule of law and strengthening other ties.

The Philippines has been more vocal in the past year about having a stronger stance against what it sees as aggressive territorial claims by China. At the same time the United States has been making a policy shift toward Asia and the Pacific.

N. Korean Missiles Don't Threaten US Yet, Analysts Say

Analysts say North Korea's successful launch of a long-range rocket is a major achievement for a country that has long wanted to obtain the capability to strike North America with nuclear weapons. But they say Pyongyang must still make several major technological advances before that threat becomes a reality.