US Navy secretary, Chinese minister discuss seas

Updated 27 November 2012
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US Navy secretary, Chinese minister discuss seas

BEIJING: China’s defense minister and the US Navy secretary on Tuesday discussed security at sea and plans to bolster the US military presence in the Asia-Pacific region that have been sharply criticized by Beijing.
China hopes the sides would further cooperation in areas of mutual interest and “manage disparities when conflicts appear,” Gen. Liang Guanglie told Ray Mabus according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
Liang called for “equality, mutual benefit and practical collaboration while developing a new type of relationship between the two militaries,” Xinhua said.
The meeting at the Ministry of National Defense in central Beijing comes just days after China began landing planes on its newly commissioned aircraft carrier, displaying rapid progress toward deploying the ultimate symbol of naval power and force projection.
Mabus also met Tuesday with the commander of the Chinese navy, Adm. Wu Shengli, and plans to tour two ships and a submarine in the eastern port of Ningbo as part of his four-day visit, the US Embassy said.
Beijing has criticized the US’s moves in the Pacific as part of a campaign to encircle and contain China, despite Washington’s claims that it is merely shifting its focus back to the region after winding-down the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those steps include dispatching up to 2,500 US Marines to rotate through a joint military training hub in the northern Australia city of Darwin and the deployment of a littoral combat ship — a new type of vessel that can operate closer to shore than other ships — to Singapore as part of a reassignment of naval assets to Asia.
China, for its part, has unnerved its neighbors with its moves to assert its claims in the South China Sea and off its east coast. Recent months have seen a standoff with the Philippines over a disputed shoal and frequent confrontations with the Japanese Coast Guard around East China Sea islands claimed by both sides.
Along with acquiring an aircraft carrier, sophisticated fighter jets, and other modern hardware, China has stepped-up training among the 2.3-million-member People’s Liberation Army. State media on Tuesday repeatedly showed footage of ground exercises in the Nanjing Military District that faces Taiwan, the US-allied island democracy that China threatens to bring under its control by force if it has to.
However, despite sometimes bellicose attitudes on both sides, there is also a growing push for greater contact and communication to avoid misunderstandings and build trust. Officers from the sides are meeting in China this week for exchanges on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations that will include a simulated coordinated response to an earthquake in a third country.
Chinese and US sailors have also cooperated in training missions and anti-piracy patrols off the coast of Somalia.


Inquiry into London’s Grenfell fire to hear bereaved speak of lost loved ones

Updated 2 min 30 sec ago
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Inquiry into London’s Grenfell fire to hear bereaved speak of lost loved ones

  • While the official death toll from the fire is 71, the inquiry will commemorate 72 people as it is including Maria del Pilar Burton, a resident of the tower who died in January
  • The public inquiry faces the daunting task of establishing the root causes of the fire from eye-witness accounts, videos and photos, expert evidence and the paper trail of the tower’s history

LONDON: People who lost family and friends in the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 71 people in London last year, will pay tribute to their loved ones at the start of hearings at a public inquiry into the causes of the disaster.
Only a charred, gutted ruin remains of Grenfell Tower, a 24-story social housing block in a deprived pocket of the rich west London borough of Kensington and Chelsea, since it was engulfed by flames in the middle of the night of June 14, 2017.
The public inquiry faces the daunting task of establishing the root causes of the fire from eye-witness accounts, videos and photos, expert evidence and the paper trail of the tower’s history since it was built in the 1970s.
But before it delves into the details of what happened, the inquiry wants to give those bereaved by the disaster an opportunity to pay tribute to those they lost by talking about them publicly, or by showing photos or videos if they wish.
These commemoration hearings are expected to last nine days, although the schedule is uncertain as the inquiry has set no time limit for the tributes. They are expected to last between two minutes and over an hour.
The oral hearings into the circumstances of the fire will start later, on June 4.
The first commemoration will be of baby Logan Gomes, who was stillborn in hospital shortly after his heavily pregnant mother Andreia, who lived on the 21st floor, escaped from the fire. Andreia survived after she was put in an induced coma and treated for cyanide poisoning.
While the official death toll from the fire is 71, the inquiry will commemorate 72 people as it is including Maria del Pilar Burton, a resident of the tower who died in January, having never left hospital since she escaped from the fire.
The Grenfell Tower fire shocked Britain and led to an outpouring of angst over whether poor quality social housing and neglect by the authorities of a deprived, ethnically diverse community had played a part in the tragedy.
Separately from the public inquiry, the police are conducting an investigation into the fire which could result in criminal charges against organizations involved in the construction, maintenance or refurbishment of the tower, or against individuals.