By Michael Martina BEIJING (Reuters) - Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop downplayed tensions over China's controversial air defense zone, which has also rankled the United States, Japan and South Korea, after meeting her Chinese counterpart on Saturday. "Australia is concerned that there be peace and stability in our region and we don't want to see any escalation of the tensions," Bishop told reporters following four hours of talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. It is in our interests, and indeed in the interests of a number of countries in our region, that there be peace and stability in the East China Sea, the South China Sea, and the region more generally." Bishop said discussion of the ADIZ only took up a "small proportion" of time in talks with Chinese leaders. "Australia's words and actions on the issue of China's air defense zone have damaged the mutual trust between the two sides," state news organization Xinhua reported Wang as saying.
Nusa Dua (Indonesia) (AFP) - Commerce ministers capped days of hard negotiations Saturday by approving a WTO agreement on international commerce they hailed as a "historic" boost for the trade body. The agreement falls far short of the World Trade Organization's lofty but elusive vision of tearing down global trade barriers through its frustrating, 12-year-old Doha Round of talks. But the accord reached on the Indonesian resort island of Bali nevertheless marks the first global agreement struck by the Geneva-based body since its 1995 founding. "For the first time in our history, the WTO has truly delivered," an exhausted but relieved WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo told a closing ceremony.
By David Alexander MANAMA (Reuters) - The United States has a proven and enduring commitment to Middle East security, backed by diplomatic engagement and a fierce array of warplanes, ships, tanks, artillery and 35,000 troops, Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel told Gulf Arab leaders on Saturday. The U.S. defense secretary, speaking at a regional security forum, acknowledged Gulf leaders' concerns about the direction of U.S. policy in the Middle East, especially negotiations on Iran's nuclear program. But he said the U.S. emphasis on diplomacy should not be misinterpreted. "We know diplomacy cannot operate in a vacuum," Hagel said.