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March 27, 2013

News Briefs March 27, 2013

North Korea puts artillery forces at top combat posture

North Korea’s military says it artillery forces are at their highest-level combat posture in its latest threat to attack South Korea and the U.S.

Seoul says it isn’t seeing any suspicious North Korean military activity. Analysts say a direct North Korean attack is extremely unlikely, especially during joint U.S.-South Korean military drills that end April 30.

But the rival Koreas have had several bloody naval skirmishes in disputed Yellow Sea waters and there’s some worry among analysts about a provocation after the drills.

Observers say the March 26 statement by the North Korean army’s Supreme Command and other recent bellicose language is partly meant to strengthen internal loyalty to leader Kim Jong Un.

Pyongyang is angry over recent U.N. sanctions over its nuclear test and says Washington and Seoul plan to invade. AP

Most Australian troops to leave Afghanistan this year

Most Australian troops in Afghanistan will be home by the end of the year when the international military base at Tarin Kowt in Uruzgan province closes.

Defense Minister Stephen Smith said March 26 that at least 1,000 of the 1,550 Australian troops in Afghanistan will be withdrawn by the end of 2013.

The decision by the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force to draw down and close the base at Tarin Kowt was made after consultation with Australia and Afghan authorities.

Smith said it was in line with the timetable to transition to full Afghan-led security responsibility in Oruzgan by year’s end.

The Australian military’s main focus in Afghanistan is to train an Afghan National Army battalion to take responsibility for security in the province. AP

FedEx to buy Boeing jets from United Airlines

FedEx Corp. says it will buy up to 30 Boeing aircraft from United Airlines and convert them into cargo planes.

Financial terms of the deal were not released.

FedEx disclosed its plans in a regulatory filing. The package-delivery company said it would buy 14 Boeing 757 aircraft, which will be delivered through 2015, and could buy up to 16 more 757s.

United announced last year that it would buy 150 Boeing 737s over the next several years to replace older 757s.

FedEx spokesman Jess Bunn said Monday that the purchase of planes from United is the latest move in a fleet-modernization program that started several years ago.

îWe are retiring older, less efficient aircraft and replacing them with more modern and efficient ones,î he said. AP




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