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International

Fiji PM convenes first cabinet meet

Suva : Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama convened the first meeting of his cabinet in Suva Tuesday, media reported.

After the meeting, Finance Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum announced that he would deliver the 2015 budget Nov 21, FijiLive reported.

"The first cabinet meeting went well," the prime minister said.

"The finance ministry is working towards Nov 21 when the budget will be delivered," the finance minister said.

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Lufthansa pilots' strike causes 1,500 flight cancellations

Berlin : German airline Lufthansa cancelled over 1,500 flights Monday after its pilots union announced to extend the 35-hour strike to include long-haul fleets.

The two sides -- union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) and Lufthansa airline -- are in a dispute over pilots' retirement benefits. VC is asking Lufthansa to retain a scheme that allows pilots to retire early at age 55 while receiving 60 percent of their salaries. Lufthansa planned to raise the early retirement age to 60 as a cost-saving measure.

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Georgian ex-PM sentenced to three years in jail for power abuse

Tbilisi : A Georgian court Monday sentenced former prime minister Vano Merabishvili to three years in prison for abuse of power in connection with a murder case.

Also charged with fraud in the murder case of a businessman in 2006, when he was interior minister, Merabishvili was banned from taking a high post for two years, Xinhua reported.

The former prime minister, not in court when the guilty verdict was announced, is serving a four-and-a-half-year sentence in prison handed down in separate trials connected to the crackdown on protesters in May 2011.

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Burqa segregation in Australian Parliament reversed

Canberra : A move to force Muslim women who cover their faces to sit in a separate enclosed public gallery at Australia's Parliament House has been reversed, media reported Monday.

Earlier this month, Speaker Bronwyn Bishop and Senate President Stephen Parry approved new rules applying to anyone wearing "facial coverings", ABC News reported.

But the move caused an outcry and an intervention from Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who is believed to have told Bishop that "common sense should prevail".

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Sri Lanka to hold presidential poll in January

Colombo : The Sri Lankan government Monday confirmed that the presidential elections will take place in January next year but the date is yet to be decided.

"The presidential election will be held in January. The date cannot be said right now. I know the date but since it is yet to be confirmed I cannot say that right now," Media Minister and Cabinet spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said.

Rambukwella said the public must put aside differences over race and religion during the election and ensure that national interests are given priority, Xinhua reported.

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New Zealand parliament holds its first session after polls

Wellington : New Zealand's 51st Parliament Monday held its first sitting since last month's general election for the swearing-in of all 121 members.

David Carter, a member of the National Party, was re-elected the speaker, Xinhua reported.

The ceremony began with the three Royal Commissioners - the Chief Justice, the Court of Appeal president, and the Chief High Court Judge - declaring the new parliament open.

Governor-General Jerry Mataparae will outline the government's legislative agenda over the three-year term at the State Opening of Parliament Tuesday.

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Japan's justice minister quits

Tokyo : Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Monday accepted the resignation of Justice Minister Midori Matsushima after she offered to quit over an allegation of misusing campaign funds.

Two of the five women in Abe's cabinet resigned Monday, beset by allegations of misusing political funds, dealing a blow to the prime minister's efforts to boost the profile of women, Japan Times reported.

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Jokowi sworn in as Indonesian president

Jakarta : Jakarta governor Joko Widodo, locally known as Jokowi, was sworn in as the seventh Indonesian president at the parliament building Monday, replacing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Jokowi's pairing with Jusuf Kalla won the direct presidential election three months ago, defeating rival former general Prabowo Subianto with running mate Hatta Rajasa, Xinhua reported.

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Australian PM to attend Indonesian president's swearing-in

Sydney : Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott will join other world leaders Monday to attend the swearing-in ceremony of new Indonesian president Joko Widodo in Jakarta.

Abbott said his attendance reflected the "huge importance" Australia placed on its relationship with its neighbour, Xinhua reported.

"The inauguration is an important occasion for Indonesia and also for Australia because Indonesia is a hugely important neighbour," he said in a statement.

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Japanese PM accepts trade minister Obuchi's resignation

Tokyo : Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Monday accepted Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yuko Obuchi's resignation filed early Monday over alleged misuse of political funds at Abe's official residence, media reported.

The 40-year-old minister handed the resignation letter early Monday to Abe over alleged misuse of political funds in a move to take the responsibility for the fund scandal, the first such case since Abe took office in December 2012, Xinhua reported citing the Kyodo News.

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