Defense talks with US begin
US and Philippine officials are expected to agree on an increase in the number of US military ships, aircraft and troops rotating through the Philippines, Manila officials said, as tensions simmer with China over its maritime claims. Senior US and Philippine officials met yesterday in Manila to discuss strengthening security and economic ties at a time of growing tension over China’s aggressive sovereignty claims over vast stretches of the South China Sea. “What we are discussing right now is increasing the rotational presence of US forces,” Philippine Assistant Secretary for American Affairs Carlos Sorreta told reporters. A five-year joint US-Philippine military exercise plan would be approved this week, he added. One US official said Washington was not ready to wade directly into the territorial dispute in the South China Sea and would instead focus on strengthening security ties with long-standing allies like Manila.
Ozal autopsy reveals poison
The exhumed body of former president Turgut Ozal, who led the country out of military rule in the 1980s, contained poison, but the cause of death was unclear, media reported an autopsy as revealing yesterday. There have long been rumors that Ozal, who died of heart failure in 1993 aged 65, was murdered by militants of the “deep state” — a shadowy group of security establishment figures and criminal elements. Ozal’s efforts to end a Kurdish insurgency and create a Turkic union with central Asian states have been cited as motives for would-be enemies. Ozal survived an assassination bid in 1988. The national forensic institute completed the autopsy on Tuesday and the results will be sent to prosecutors who are investigating suspicions of foul play, the state-run Anatolian news agency said. Previous media reports have said Ozal’s body, dug up in October on prosecutors’ orders, revealed traces of insecticides, pesticides and radioactive elements.
Local-made choppers shown
State television said the country has put its first domestically produced helicopters into service, displaying them at an air show. The report said the 12-passenger Panha-1 and eight-passenger Panha-2 helicopters have military capabilities. The unveiling came on Tuesday during an aviation exhibition on the Gulf island of Kish. The government also displayed a new six-passenger airplane and landing gear for a jet fighter. The nation began a military self-sufficiency program in 1992. It periodically announces accomplishments in the fields of industry and military production. Ten countries, including Russia, China, Ukraine, Indonesia, Malaysia and Sudan, are participating in the exhibition, which ends tomorrow.
Paper to publish pet obits
Grieving pet owners can soon share their feelings about their deceased furred family members via obituaries in the nation’s largest newspaper, the Straits Times. The paper’s pets section will let pet owners publish goodbye messages to their non-human companions along with a photo. In a report on the country’s pet care market, research firm Euromonitor said: “Many pet owners are increasingly treating their pets as household members and are therefore pampering their pets with luxurious food, products and services, just as they would dote on their family.” Needless to say, the obituaries are not free — they will each cost S$50 (US$40.96), with a goods and services tax of 7 percent on top of that.