While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Oct 28 edition

US says China relationship of vital importance despite South China Sea issue

The US State Department said on Tuesday that the US relationship with China was of vital importance and the United States wanted to see it grow, in spite of differences over the South China Sea.

"Setting this aside, the U.S.-China relationship is vitally important and one we want to see continue to improve and to grow for the benefit of both our countries, not to mention the region," State Department spokesman John Kirby told a regular news briefing.

A US guided-missile destroyer - the USS Lassen - sailed close to one of China's man-made islands in the South China Sea on Tuesday, drawing an angry rebuke from Beijing, which said it had tracked and warned the ship and called in the US ambassador to protest.


US to boost anti-ISIS attacks in Iraq, Syria, including 'direct action' on the ground

US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said Tuesday the United States will increase attacks on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq, with additional air strikes and even "direct action" on the ground.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carter said he expects more actions like the one last week that freed dozens of captives but left an American commando dead in Iraq.

"We won't hold back from supporting capable partners in opportunistic attacks against ISIL, or conducting such missions directly, whether by strikes from the air or direct action on the ground," Carter said, using another acronym for ISIS.


Desperate Afghan-Pakistan quake victims appeal for aid; death toll surpasses 360

Desperate survivors appealed for food and blankets on Tuesday after a devastating earthquake killed more than 360 people in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as harsh weather, rugged terrain and pockets of militancy hampered rescue efforts.

The Afghan Taleban urged relief agencies to push ahead with aid deliveries to victims of Monday's powerful earthquake, which destroyed thousands of homes, triggered landslides and stampedes, and knocked out communication lines.

Mass burial ceremonies were conducted in both countries as officials warned that the death toll could spike as entire communities remain inaccessible amid freezing winter conditions.


Chinese firms weigh Starwood Hotels bid, largest-ever Chinese takeover of US company

A trio of Chinese companies are consulting the Chinese government on a possible bid for US hotel giant Starwood, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Shanghai Jin Jiang International Hotels, HNA Group and sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp. have all expressed interest to the government in bidding for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, the Journal said, citing unnamed sources.

Starwood's properties include the Sheraton, Westin and W hotel chains. The company currently has some 1,270 properties in 100 countries.


Ancient warrior's tomb and huge treasure hoard found in Greece

US archaeologists in Greece have uncovered the skeleton of an ancient warrior that has lain undisturbed for more than 3,500 years along with a huge hoard of treasure, the Greek culture ministry announced Monday.

The treasure is "the most important to have been discovered in 65 years" in continental Greece, the ministry said.

The wooden coffin of the unknown soldier - evidently a person of some importance - was found on the site of the Mycenaean-era Palace of Nestor on Greece's Peloponnese peninsula.


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