Reshuffle in HK affairs office  

HONG KONG: China has reshuffled its office in charge of Hong Kong affairs, a move that could herald a softening in policy towards the city after huge protests calling for democracy. 

Zhang Xiaoming has been appointed as the new deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said Hong Kong's Beijing-backed Wen Wei Po newspaper. Zhang replaces Xu Ze, said the newspaper. – Reuters 

Chinese snub Lee’s dinner  

SINGAPORE: A Chinese delegation to a meeting of central bankers here did not turn up for a dinner hosted by Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, whose recent trip to Taiwan sparked an angry rebuke from Beijing. 

A spokesman for the Monetary Authority of Singapore, headed by Lee, gave no reason for the Chinese delegation's absence. – AFP 

Japan detains Bobby Fischer 

TOKYO: Former world chess champion Bobby Fischer, the only US citizen to ever hold the title, has been detained in Japan on suspicion of holding an invalid passport, officials said yesterday. – Reuters 

Agenda preparation  

ISLAMABAD: Senior foreign ministry officials from seven South Asian countries began their two-day conference here yesterday to prepare the agenda for a foreign ministers' meeting to be held next week, officials said. 

Pakistan is hosting the meeting of South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) of foreign ministers from July 20 to 21. SAARC groups Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. – AFP 

Army help sought  

PATNA: The Indian state of Bihar sent an SOS message yesterday to the federal government seeking more help from the army to rescue millions of people trapped in devastating floods. 

Nine people drowned overnight, taking the death toll to 41 in the past 24 hours as 1.7 million more people were hit by the floods caused by annual monsoons, an official statement said. – AFP 

Rain hampers rescue  

KATMANDU: Fresh rainfall was making it difficult for rescuers to reach areas hit by landslides and flooding as Nepal's monsoon-related death toll increased to 77, officials said yesterday.  

Rescue helicopters with food, medicine and tents were grounded by the deteriorating weather here, said Home Ministry spokesman. – AP 

UN team starts work 

ABIDJAN: Members of a UN commission of inquiry into human rights violations in Ivory Coast were due to begin work here yesterday 

The five-member team arrived in the city late on Thursday. – AFP  


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