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CHAOS IN PARAGUAYAN PRESIDENTIAL RACE?

Candidate Dies in Crash!
By Harold Hutchison

A helicopter crash in northern Paraguay has killed Lino Oviedo, who reportedly played a role in deposing Alfredo Stroessner in 1989, and who was running for the presidency of the South American nation.

The crash, which occurred on Saturday, could throw the upcoming presidential election into chaos. At least six other candidates are running for the presidency, which is currently held by Frederico Franco, who took over the position after Fernando Lugo was impeached.

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.