Foreign articles

China PM to visit India, says big powers can grow together

China PM to visit India, says big powers can grow together

HANOI: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Friday he would visit India later this year, stressing there was “enough space in the world” for both the giant nations to prosper despite a backdrop of frosty ties.
“I will pay a visit to India by the end of this year,” Wen said during talks with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of a Southeast Asia summit in the Vietnamese capital. Border disputes, a short war in 1962 and the presence in India of Tibet’s spiritual

German media sees partial victory for Merkel on EU

BERLIN: German media offered guarded praise for an agreement in Brussels to make limited changes to the EU treaty, describing it as a compromise that bought time to find a lasting remedy to debt woes that have plagued the bloc.
Under pressure from Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, EU leaders in Brussels agreed that changes were needed to create a permanent system to handle sovereign debt problems and endorsed tougher budgetary rules, including

Lebanon braces for worst as Hezbollah snubs UN Hariri probe

BEIRUT: Lebanon braced on Friday for a fresh political crisis after Hezbollah urged a boycott of a UN-backed tribunal on the murder of former leader Rafiq Hariri and the United Nations warned of a “hyper-dangerous” situation.
Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the militant Shiite party, called on all Lebanese on Thursday to end cooperation with investigators probing the ex-premier’s 2005 assassination, warning “citizens and politicians alike” that further collaboration was equivalent to

Russia, Poland sign gas deal, eyes on EU stance

WARSAW: Poland and Russia signed a new natural gas deal on Friday, after the EU rejected a previous one, that increases Russian deliveries to Poland’s gas company by some 2.5 billion cubic metres to 10 bcm a year until 2022.
Poland would be short of some 2.5 bcm of gas annually without the deal, which was clinched after more than a year of talks and must still be approved by the European Commission.
The European Union executive had forced Warsaw to renegotiate after saying

Myanmar says Suu Kyi may be freed after elections

HANOI: Myanmar has said that democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi may be freed after November 7 elections, as it attempts to deflect a barrage of criticism over the discredited polls.
Myanmar’s elections, the nation’s first in two decades, have been derided as a sham by critics who say they lack any credibility without the participation of Suu Kyi and other opposition figures.
Foreign Minister Nyan Win flagged the release at Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) talks,

French strikers in last-ditch bid to halt pension bill

PARIS: Hundreds of thousands of defiant French strikers took to the streets on Thursday in a last-ditch bid to force President Nicolas Sarkozy to scrap a just-passed law raising the retirement age.
At least 270 rallies were planned around France, as workers and students launched the ninth in a series of one-day mass protests and strikes, part of a movement that has threatened to paralyse the economy. Most of the demonstrations of recent weeks have been peaceful, but gangs of

MI6 chief says spying crucial to stopping Iran’s nuclear drive

LONDON: Diplomacy is not enough to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons, the head of Britain’s foreign spy service said on Thursday, urging an “intelligence-led” approach to stopping nuclear proliferation.
In an unprecedented public speech, MI6 chief John Sawers said that the intelligence activities were responsible for Iran’s admission last year of a second enrichment plant, which in turn led to tougher diplomatic pressure on the country.
“Stopping nuclear proliferation

US prepares new offer for Iran nuclear talks

WASHINGTON: The United States and its European allies are putting together a new offer for talks with Iran over its nuclear programme, but would include tougher conditions than those rejected by Iran last year, The New York Times reported.
The newspaper cited a senior US official as saying the Obama administration and its partners were “very close to having an agreement” on a position to present to Tehran. Iran has welcomed the offer of talks, which the Western powers want to

Indian PM positive on ties with China

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Wednesday there were “enormous possibilities” to work with China, playing down simmering tensions between the giant Asian neighbours.
“Are India and China in competition? I sincerley believe that there are enornmous possibilities of our two countries to work together,” Singh told a gathering of business leaders in Malaysia’s administrative capital, Putrajaya.
“I look upon the world as a large enough place to

Clashes as Israeli extremists demonstrate in Arab town

Israeli police and stone-throwing Arabs clashed in northern Israel on Wednesday as a group of extreme right-wing Israelis tried to march through the Arab Israeli town of Umm al-Fahm.
Hundreds of police clad in riot gear fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse angry Arab youths, many with scarves wrapped around their faces, who burned tyres and hurled stones in protest ahead of an extremist rally in their town.
Tensions were high as around 20 Israeli

Germany attacks forced marriages

Germany’s cabinet Wednesday agreed new draft laws against forced marriages and tough measures against immigrants who fail to integrate into society, amid a fierce debate about immigration in the country.
Forcing someone into marriage will now be considered a criminal act in itself, punishable by up to five years in prison, under the legislation drawn up by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government. Previously, forced marriage had been considered under the law as a

Hunt for survivors after twin disasters hit Indonesia

Indonesian rescuers searched for survivors Wednesday after a tsunami smashed into an island chain and a volcano erupted in twin disasters that have left scores dead and thousands homeless.
Ten villages were flattened when the tsunami triggered by a 7.7-magnitude earthquake pounded the Mentawai islands late Monday off the west coast of Sumatra, on a major fault line in a region known as the “Pacific Ring of Fire”.
At least 154 people were killed and some 400

Iraq court sentences Tareq Aziz to death

Iraq’s supreme criminal court sentenced former deputy prime minister Tareq Aziz to death on Tuesday, the first death sentence handed down against the long-time international face of the Saddam Hussein regime.
“The supreme criminal court issued an execution order against Tareq Aziz for his role in eliminating religious parties,” state television reported. It said that the court also ordered death sentences against two other top Saddam lieutenants, former interior

Indonesian tsunami kills 108, hundreds missing

A tsunami that pounded remote islands in western Indonesia following an earthquake off the coast of Sumatra killed more than 100 people, officials said on Tuesday, and hundreds more were missing.
The 7.5 magnitude quake hit 78 km west of South Pagai, one of the Mentawai islands, late on Monday. Local legislator Hendri Dori Satoko told Metro TV the latest toll was 108 dead and 502 missing.
Most buildings in the coastal village of Betu Monga were destroyed, said

British police step up training for Mumbai-style attack

British security forces are increasing training for an attack similar to the Mumbai bloodshed two years ago, following reports that a similar plot was foiled in Europe last month, the BBC said on Tuesday.
Police marksmen and special forces units are undergoing exercises while police armed response units are being given more powerful weapons to combat any attackers with automatic weapons, the BBC said, without identifying sources.
While there is no indication such

French students march on as pensions strike loses steam

French students protested Tuesday at campuses across the country but elsewhere the government welcomed signs that the mass movement to defend the right to retire at 60 was losing steam.
Lawmakers were expected to pass President Nicolas Sarkozy’s unpopular pensions reform bill on Wednesday and Finance Minister Christine Lagarde hailed what she said was “a return to reason and dialogue.”
And the union leaders who led strikes and street rallies of recent months

Hawkish Israeli minister drafts nuclear Iran plan

Hardline Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has commissioned a report on how to prepare for a nuclear-armed Iran as doubt mounts about the efficacy of preventive action, an Israeli source said on Monday.
Publicly, Israel has pledged to deny the Iranians the means to make a bomb but its previous, centrist govt also discreetly drew up “day after” contingency plans should Tehran’s uranium enrichment pass the military threshold.
At the time, rightist