U.N., U.S. call for investigations into Thai trafficking of Rohingya
By Andrew R.C. Marshall, Jason Szep and Arshad Mohammed BANGKOK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United Nations and the United States called Friday for investigations into the findings of a Reuters report that Thai immigration officials moved Myanmar refugees into human trafficking rings. The report, published on Thursday and based on a two-month investigation in three countries, revealed a clandestine policy to remove Rohingya refugees from Thailand's immigration detention centers and deliver them to human traffickers waiting at sea. The Rohingya, stateless Muslims from Myanmar, are then transported across southern Thailand and held hostage in camps hidden near the border with Malaysia until relatives pay ransoms to release them, according to the Reuters report. "These allegations need to be investigated urgently," U.N. refugee agency spokeswoman Vivian Tan said in a statement.
Nigeria, Ghana face tough World Cup path
Nigeria insist they have drawn a fair first round group for the World Cup, but Ghana admitted they face a battle against Germany, Portugal and United States. The Ivory Coast enjoyed better luck in Friday's draw with Africa's other flag bearers, Algeria and Cameroon, the dark horses in their respective groups. African champions Nigeria have said they are hopeful of reaching the knockout stage in Brazil after they were drawn against Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iran.
Hagel reassures Gulf allies U.S. committed to regional security
By David Alexander MANAMA (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel toured a U.S. warship in the Gulf on Friday and declared Washington's commitment to Middle East security, despite policy differences over Iran and Syria that have angered Gulf allies. His visit to Bahrain, in which he will speak at the Manama Dialogue security conference, comes at a time of regional unease over President Barack Obama's policies - ranging from the cautious U.S. response to Syria's civil war to the six world powers' interim deal with Iran on its nuclear program. The ship he toured, the USS Ponce, part of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, is to be equipped in 2014 with a new laser weapon designed to deter aircraft and missiles as well as attacks by swarms of small boats like those used by Iran, on the opposite side of the Gulf.
UK foreign secretary seeks to reassure Gulf allies
MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Britain's top diplomat voiced his country's strong commitment to the security of the Gulf states on Friday, seeking to reassure wary Arab allies in the wake of last month's nuclear deal with their regional rival Iran.
Jordan elected to UN Security Council
UNITED NATIONS (United States) (AFP) - Jordan was Friday elected to a two-year term on the UN Security Council, taking the seat that Saudi Arabia won and then rejected in a protest over Syria's civil war. Jordan, which will take up the seat on January 1, won 178 votes from among the 193 members of the UN General Assembly and was the only candidate put forward for the vacant post. "What we saw today is almost a consensus by the international community, a consensus that we appreciate and feel humbled by... it is truly an honor," said Jordan's foreign minister Nasser Judeh after the vote. The award of a Security Council seat also "recognizes the role of Jordanian diplomacy worldwide," he added.