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Taiwan’s Hon Hai pulls out of Huawei deal over ‘security threat’

Taiwan tech giant Hon Hai said Wednesday it has pulled out of a deal to buy 4G equipment from Huawei after the government warned that the Chinese company posed a national security threat.

Taiwan raised those concerns in March after Hon Hai announced the $178 million deal, saying telecom equipment purchased from Huawei could be used for cyber espionage.

Ambit Microsystems, a company affiliated with Hon Hai, had applied for permission from the telecom regulator to import Huawei equipment after it won a 4G spectrum license.

But Ambit on Monday pulled out of the deal with Huawei, which offers cheaper products than rivals such as Nokia.

“Ambit respects the cautious position of the government regarding national security, so we resubmitted our application on June 30 excluding any mainland-manufactured equipment,” the company said in a statement.

Shenzhen-based Huawei has for years faced accusations that it is a potential security Trojan Horse due to perceived close links to the Chinese government, which it denies.

It has been barred from involvement in broadband projects in the United States and Australia over espionage fears.

“Authorities have voiced national security concerns about Huawei,” Liang Wen-hsin, a spokesman for telecom regulator National Communications Commission (NCC), told AFP.

Taiwan and former rival China, split in 1949 at the end of a civil war, are still technically at war despite eased tensions since 2008 after Ma Ying-jeou of the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang party came to power. He was re-elected in January 2012.

Huawei was founded in 1987 by Ren Zhengfei, who was an engineer in the People’s Liberation Army.

Besides network equipment, it has moved into consumer electronics and is the world’s third-largest seller of smartphones.

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Ecuador pulls out of regional mutual defense treaty

By on Thursday, February 6th, 2014

President Rafael Correa has pulled Ecuador out of a 1947 hemispheric mutual defense treaty on Wednesday on grounds it is outdated, the foreign ministry announced Wednesday.

The move was the latest in a shift away from US-led security arrangements in the region by Ecuador and other leftist Latin American allies.

The foreign ministry said Correa signed a decree Tuesday, ratifying a decision earlier this month by the National Assembly to withdraw from the treaty.

“Ecuador renounces in all its articles the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance,” the foreign ministry said.

Better known as the Rio Treaty, the pact was part of the international security architecture devised by the United States at the start of the Cold War.

Its central principle is that an attack on one country is an attack on all.

Ecuador ratified the treaty in 1950.

Under Correa, a socialist, Ecuador has pared its ties with the United States and has joined new regional blocs with other like-minded leftist governments.

Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua agreed at a meeting in 2012 that they would withdraw from the Rio Treaty.

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US pulls NATO supply route negotiators out of Pakistan

By on Monday, June 11th, 2012

The United States has withdrawn negotiators from Pakistan after talks failed to produce an agreement on reopening vital NATO supply routes into Afghanistan, the Pentagon said Monday.

“The decision was reached to bring the team home for a short period of time,” Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters.

The team of negotiators had been in Pakistan for about six weeks, he said, as US officials had believed they were close to a deal with Islamabad to lift the blockade on NATO convoys.

But no breakthrough was imminent and there was no scheduled date for a resumption of the negotiations, Little said.

The United States, however, would continue to maintain a “dialogue” with Pakistan and the departure of the expert negotiating team did not mean Washington had given up discussions with Islamabad, he said.
“That’s not to be taken as a sign of our unwillingess to continue the dialogue with Pakistanis on this issue,” he said, adding that the negotiators are “prepared to return at any moment.”

Pakistan shut its border to NATO supply convoys in November after a botched US air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

Members of the negotiating team started to leave over the weekend and the remainder of the negotiators would soon return to the United States, Little said.

The comments came after Pakistan’s army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, refused last week to meet US assistant defense secretary Peter Lavoy, who traveled to Pakistan to try to resolve the dispute, officials said.

Lavoy “was hoping to meet with General Kayani to work through this issue,” Little said.
The roads through Pakistan are a crucial logistical link for NATO as it plans a large-scale withdrawal of combat troops and equipment by the end of 2014.

But US officials have so far rejected Pakistani proposals to charge steep fees of several thousand dollars for each alliance truck crossing the border.

Washington has also refused to issue an explicit apology for the lethal air raid.

With the Pakistani roads shut, the US-led NATO force has relied on cargo flights and northern supply routes — negotiated with Russia and a network of governments in Central Asia and the Caucasus.
But the northern routes are much longer and more expensive than the Pakistan roads.

“The more options you have available to you when you’re mounting a major logistics effort, like supplying the war effort in Afghanistan, the better,” Little said.
“As a technical matter, we could in theory do our work without the ground supply routes. It would certainly be better to have them open and less costly.”

The stalled negotiations also coincide with remarks last Thursday by US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in which he accused Islamabad of failing to crack down on Haqqani insurgents operating inside Pakistan and attacking US-led troops in neighboring Afghanistan.

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Afghans ‘concerned’ over airforce as NATO pulls out

By on Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Afghanistan’s defence ministry has expressed concern over the slow pace of developing its airforce ahead of a scheduled withdrawal of NATO troops and equipment, the government said Sunday.

More than a dozen transport aircraft provided to the Afghan airforce by the United States have been grounded because of age, a lack of spares and safety problems, President Hamid Karzai’s office said in a statement.

The issue was raised at a security meeting which was told that the defence ministry was “concerned over the slow pace of reviving the country’s air force” and wanted the US to “intensify its efforts for that end”.

As part of its exit strategy from the Afghan war, the US is helping Kabul build its airforce before most air support from NATO forces is withdrawn along with 130,000 troops by the end of 2014.

Fifteen C-27 transport aircraft supposed to provide support to the Afghan army and deliver humanitarian aid had been grounded for two years, defence ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi told AFP.

“The planes were made in Italy, they are old and were out of the Italian fleet before they were given to Afghanistan,” Azimi said.

Air transport is critical in Afghanistan, where the road network is underdeveloped and targeted by insurgent bombings, while strike aircraft are a vital part of the war against Taliban insurgents.

The US Air Force announced last month that it was reopening a contest for a contract to build 20 light attack aircraft for Afghanistan after the cancellation of an award to Brazil’s Embraer two months earlier.

But a final decision for the contract will not be made before early 2013, the Air Force said in a statement, with the first planes due to be delivered in the second half of 2014.

The new schedule will mean “a delay of about 15 months” from original plans, before the Air Force called off the award, the statement said.

Last year, an Afghan air force officer shot dead nine US service members at a training centre at Kabul International Airport, one of the deadliest attacks on coalition troops in recent years.

It was one of an increasing number of attacks in which Afghans being trained by NATO troops have turned their weapons on their mentors.

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