News Wrap: Hagel, Chinese defense minister discuss disputed islands


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JUDY WOODRUFF: Search crews in the Indian Ocean failed today to pick up more underwater pings from a Malaysian jetliner, one month after it disappeared. Officials acknowledged time is short, since locator beacons on the two black box recorders were designed to transmit just a month before their batteries die.

In Perth, Australia, Defense Minister David Johnston said it’s a Herculean task.

DAVID JOHNSTON, Defense Minister, Australia: This is day 32. I want to confirm that we have at least several days of intense action ahead of us. The weather out there today is reasonable, and, so, you can be assured that we are throwing everything at this difficult, complex task in these — at least these next several days, whilst we believe the two pingers involved are still active.

JUDY WOODRUFF: An Australian ship towing a U.S. Navy deep-water sound detector picked up pings on Saturday and Sunday. They were consistent with the sort the black boxes would emit.

Crews digging through the mudslide in Washington State have found a 34th body. Officials also said about a dozen people are still listed as missing. And the White House announced that President Obama will visit the site on April 22, and meet with victims’ families, survivors and recovery workers.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel got an earful in China today over territorial disputes with Japan and the Philippines. The Chinese defense minister warned his government is ready to use force, if needed, to defend islands it claims. Hagel took part in an honor cordon with his Chinese counterpart and held a two-hour-long meeting.

Afterward, he said the U.S. will protect its allies, and he warned against miscalculations.

CHUCK HAGEL, Secretary of Defense: Every nation has a right to establish air defense zones, but not a right to do it unilaterally, with no collaboration, no consultation. That adds to tensions, misunderstandings, and could eventually add to and eventually get to dangerous conflict.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Hagel was in Japan earlier this week, where he reassured its leaders of ongoing U.S. support.

In Vienna, talks on curbing Iran’s nuclear program resumed today, with the focus turning to concrete steps Iran would have to take. The U.S. and five other world powers are offering to remove economic sanctions if a long-term deal can be reached. July is the informal deadline for an agreement.

On Wall Street, stocks broke a three-day losing streak. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 10 points to close at 16,256. The Nasdaq rose 33 points to close just shy of 4,113. And the S&P 500 added nearly seven and finished near 1,852.

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