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Wen chides Europe on
arms sale embargo

BRUSSELS — Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said Thursday that China would continue to help the European Union recover from its economic crisis even as he sternly criticized the bloc for maintaining an embargo on weapons sales to his country.

The European Union is the biggest buyer of Chinese exports and China is the second most important trading partner for the EU, after the United States, making the relationship crucial to growth and jobs for both.

Yet there are serious irritants for Beijing, including the EU ban on arms exports to China, in place since the 1989 crackdown on protesters around Tiananmen Square, and the reluctance of Europe to classify China as a modern, open economy, which would clear the way for advantages on tariffs.

“I have to be very frank in saying this,” Wen told Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, and Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission. On “the two issues of lifting the arms embargo against China and recognizing China’s full market economy status, we have been working hard for 10 years. But the solution has been elusive.”

—James Kanter, The New York Times

Japan backs off goal to phase out nuclear power by 2040

TOKYO — In an abrupt turnabout, the Japanese government Wednesday stopped short of formally adopting the momentous goal it announced just last week — to phase out nuclear power by 2040 — after the plan drew intense opposition from business groups and communities whose economies depend on local nuclear power plants.

The Cabinet of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said it would “take into consideration” the 2040 goal but formally endorsed only a vague promise to “engage in debate with local governments and international society and to gain public understanding” in deciding Japan’s economic future in the wake of the 2011 nuclear disaster at Fukushima.

Energy policy will be developed “with flexibility, based on tireless verification and re-examination,” the cabinet’s resolution read.

A day earlier, the chairmen of Japan’s most prominent business associations, including the influential Keidanren group, called a rare joint news conference to demand that Noda abandon the 2040 goal. Wednesday, they praised the Cabinet’s decision.

—Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times

New cracks are forming in coalition leading India

NEW DELHI — The turmoil surrounding India’s national government intensified Wednesday, with a growing number of regional partners threatening to withdraw their support from the government and a former ally calling for the prime minister to seek a new electoral mandate.

After the announcement by Mamata Banerjee, the populist chief minister of the state of West Bengal, that her party would formally leave the government Friday, another member of the government, Muthuvel Karunanidhi, said his party would support a nationwide strike on Thursday called by opposition parties to protest economic policy changes announced last week by the governing coalition, the United Progressive Alliance. Karunanidhi controls 18 votes in Parliament, just one fewer than the total controlled by Banerjee.

Meanwhile, Ram Gopal Yadav, a major leader of the Samajwadi Party, which controls 22 votes in Parliament, said his continued support of the governing coalition was no longer assured.

—Jim Yardley and Gardiner Harris, The New York Times