Reuters World News Highlights at 0705 GMT, Feb 21

Feb 21 (Reuters) - TOP STORIES

-----------

WASHINGTON - Faced with the growing theft of U.S. trade

secrets, the White House said on Wednesday it was stepping up

diplomatic pressure and mulling tougher laws to stem the threat

to American businesses and security from China and other

nations.

- - - -

TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be seeking

to put a strong U.S.-Japan alliance on full display in the face

of potential threats from a nuclear North Korea and an assertive

China when he meets U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday.

- - - -

WASHINGTON/SEOUL - U.S. and allied spy agencies have found

no traces of telltale nuclear-related particles from North

Korea's Feb. 12 nuclear bomb test, leaving unresolved basic

questions about the device's design, according to officials in

the United States, Europe and South Korea.

- - - -

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama turned to local

television stations across the United States on Wednesday to

increase public pressure on congressional Republicans to avert

$85 billion in budget cuts set to begin in nine days.

- - - -

SOCHI - Above the Black Sea city of Sochi, one of Russia's

richest men is spending billions of roubles to turn a patch of

mountainside into a global showpiece. Metals magnate Vladimir

Potanin has paid for new buildings, new lifts and hundreds of

snow canons in the hope of transforming slopes not far from

sub-tropical Sochi into a world-class ski resort.

- - - -

WASHINGTON/NEW DELHI - A senior Boeing Co executive will

meet with the head of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration

on Friday and present a series of measures aimed at preventing

battery failures that grounded its 787 Dreamliner fleet for five

weeks, according to a source familiar with the plans.

- - - -

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Leon Panetta formally

notified Congress on Wednesday that the Pentagon plans to put

civilian defense employees on unpaid leave this year if $46

billion in across-the-board U.S. government spending cuts take

effect on March 1.

- - - -

BEIJING - China aims to spend $850 billion to improve filthy

water supplies over the next decade, but even such huge outlays

may do little to reverse damage caused by decades of pollution

and overuse in Beijing's push for rapid economic growth.

- - - -

WASHINGTON - More than half of U.S. citizens believe that

most or all of the country's 11 million illegal immigrants

should be deported, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released

on Wednesday that highlights the difficulties facing lawmakers

trying to reform the U.S. immigration system.

- - - -

WASHINGTON - Onetime Democratic Party rising star Jesse

Jackson Jr., weeping and repentant as his famous father looked

on, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to misusing about $750,000 in

campaign funds on luxuries such as fur capes and a Rolex watch.

- - - -

PRETORIA - The lead detective in Oscar Pistorius' murder

case is facing attempted murder charges for opening fire at a

minibus containing seven people, a South African police

spokesman said on Thursday.

- - - -

YAOUNDE - French special forces have arrived in northern

Cameroon to help locate a French family who were kidnapped on

Tuesday and moved to Nigeria, a local governor said on

Wednesday.

- - - -

HAVANA - A U.S. congressional delegation left Cuba on

Wednesday after meetings with President Raul Castro and other

top officials, but no sign the countries had resolved their

latest dispute: the fate of imprisoned U.S. contractor Alan

Gross.