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Nation and World News

United States & Cuba

US Secretary of State, John Kerry, met with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez in Panama City on Thursday in what was the highest-level meeting between the two nations in several decades.

Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Rodriguez reportedly spoke for several hours in a hotel restaurant on ways to continue moving forward and improving relations.

Their meeting precedes the Summit of the Americans, where US President Barack Obama is expected to meet with Cuban President Raul Castro. Because of President Obama’s announcement this past December to begin restoring ties with Cuba, many expect the two presidents to shake hands – a symbolic gesture that could be potentially controversial.

Ahead of the summit, United States officials have been signaling that Washington is ready to engage with Havana.

On Thursday, the State Department recommended removing Cuba from the list of countries that are known sponsors of terrorism. Removing Cuba from the list would ease financial sanctions and allow US investment in the country. For a move like this to be final, Cuba would have to pledge to not support terrorism in the future.

Pakistan

Pakistan’s parliament voted unanimously in favor of a resolution that “Pakistan should maintain neutrality” in Yemen on Friday.

Last month, Pakistan was asked by its ally Saudi Arabia to contribute ships, aircraft and troops to the military campaign to restore President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi in Yemen.

“The parliament of Pakistan expresses serious concern on the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Yemen and its implications for peace and stability of the region,” the resolution said.

The resolution also backed the Pakistani’s government to aid in protecting Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity and the Islamic holy sites inside the kingdom.

Japan

The United States and Japan are close to concluding a set of bilateral defense rules that if finalized would give Japan’s military powers to act when US forces are threatened by another state, US officials said Wednesday.

Under the previous bilateral agreement, Japan could only protect the US military if it was operating in Japan’s direct defense in areas close to the country.

The new rules, which would broaden the geographical and operational scope of the agreement, appear to be safeguards against the missile threat from North Korea and China’s aggression in the waters off of Japan’s coast.

According to a senior defense official, the new rules are significant because they are intended to empower Japan to use its missile defense systems to protect US military assets under a greater range of circumstances.

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