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Latest Downer Stories

2006-03-23 03:09:01

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Two Australian fighter jets bombed and sank an impounded North Korean cargo ship on Thursday in what Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said was a strong message to Pyongyang about its involvement in drug running. The 4,000-tonne ship the Pong Su had been impounded since 2003, when it led the Australian navy on a 1,100 km (680 mile) chase off the southeastern coast after being spotted unloading part of a 150 kg (330 lb) shipment of heroin at a secluded beach. The...

2006-03-17 20:02:56

By Sue Pleming and Michelle Nichols SYDNEY (Reuters) - Foreign ministers from the United States, Japan and Australia began talks on Saturday aimed at bringing the three countries closer on issues such as China and how to tackle its growing military strength. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in Australia for a three-day visit, is concerned that China will become a "negative force" unless the emerging superpower is more open about its military build-up. "We want conditions in...

2006-03-15 19:15:16

By Sue Pleming SYDNEY (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice began a three-day trip to Australia on Thursday to thank one of America's closest allies for keeping troops in Iraq and to discuss China's emergence as an Asia-Pacific power. With sectarian violence rising in Iraq, the United States is anxious to retain as many foreign forces as it can there. Australia has promised to keep troops in Iraq into 2007. Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said before his...

2006-02-14 03:10:00

CANBERRA -- An emotional Australian Prime Minister John Howard said the sentencing of two Australian men to death in neighboring Indonesia on Tuesday for attempting to smuggle heroin should serve as a warning to other Australians. "Can I just say to every young Australian, please take notice of this. I even beg them not to take the terrible risks that these young people have done -- their lives destroyed in the case of two people," Howard told reporters. Howard said Australia would make...

2006-01-08 05:50:00

MELBOURNE-- Canceled visits to Australia by U.S. Secretary of State Condolezza Rice and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso would not affect six-nation climate talks set for this week, a foreign affairs spokeswoman said on Sunday. But a planned three-way security meeting between the United States, Japan and Australia would be rescheduled, she said. Aso on Saturday postponed his planned visit to Australia following a similar decision by Rice, who called off her trip due the health of critically...

2006-01-08 02:15:56

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Canceled visits to Australia by U.S. Secretary of State Condolezza Rice and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso would not affect six-nation climate talks set for this week, a foreign affairs spokeswoman said on Sunday. But a planned three-way security meeting between the United States, Japan and Australia would be rescheduled, she said. Aso on Saturday postponed his planned visit to Australia following a similar decision by Rice, who called off her trip due the...

2005-11-20 19:49:21

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Lawyers for an Australian drug smuggler who is to be hanged in Singapore in less than two weeks asked the Australian government on Monday to take the case to an international court in a last-ditch bid to stop the execution. Lawyers for 25-year-old Nguyen Tuong Van -- who was convicted by Singapore of trying to smuggle 0.9 lb of heroin from Cambodia and is due to be hanged on December 2 -- want the United Nations International Court of Justice to hear the case....

2005-10-21 05:05:06

CANBERRA (Reuters) - An Australian man convicted of drugs charges in Singapore has lost his final appeal for clemency and will be executed, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said on Friday. Nguyen Tuong Van, 25, was sentenced to death in March 2004 after being convicted for smuggling almost 400 grams (0.9 lb) of heroin from Vietnam. He was arrested at Singapore's Changi Airport in December 2002, where he was in transit for Australia. Downer, Prime Minister John Howard and...

2005-10-04 12:09:18

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government will tighten its so-called feed rule -- a primary defense against mad cow disease -- by banning cattle brains and spinal cords in animal feed, but stop short of measures such as excluding restaurant scraps, industry sources said on Tuesday. The Food and Drug Administration scheduled a news conference on Tuesday at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT) to announce "proposed new safeguards" against mad cow but provided no details in advance. Imposed in 1997,...

2005-08-30 14:09:20

By Charles Abbott WASHINGTON (Reuters) - One of the bedrock U.S. safeguards against mad cow disease -- a ban on using cattle parts in cattle feed -- will be expanded "in the next month or two," the government said on Tuesday. The U.S. Agriculture Department formally closed its investigation of the first native U.S. case of mad cow disease, which surfaced in late June. It concluded that the Texas animal was infected before a federal ban on using cattle remains in cattle feed was...