Tutu, Havel urge China to release Nobel Peace Prize winner

Tutu, Havel urge China to release Nobel Peace Prize winner

LONDON: Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former Czech president Vaclav Havel on Sunday demanded “the unconditional release” of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, in an article published by a British newspaper.
Ahead of the Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo on Friday and writing in The Observer, Tutu and Havel said the dissident’s imprisonment was “sadly emblematic of the Chinese government’s intolerance to individual expression”.
The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in October

Two NATO, 2 Afghan soldiers die in market suicide attack

KHOST: Two NATO and two Afghan soldiers were killed in a suicide attack at a market close to a joint military base in the east of the country on Sunday, coalition and local officials said.
An unknown number of Afghan soldiers and troops with NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) were also injured in the blast that tore through the bazaar in Gardez, the provincial capital of Paktia.
“There was some sort of explosion near the operating base in Gardez

Defiant Iran reports nuclear advance before talks

TEHRAN: Iran announced what it called a major step forward in its nuclear programme on Sunday, showing determination to pursue it a day before talks with world powers which fear Tehran may be seeking atom bombs.
Nuclear energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran would use domestically produced uranium concentrates, known as yellowcake, for the first time at a key nuclear facility, cutting its reliance on imports of the key ingredient for nuclear fuel.
“This means that Iran

Israel ‘saddened’ as Brazil recognises Palestinian state

JERUSALEM: Israel on Saturday said it was disappointed by Brazil’s decision to recognise a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, saying it flew in the face of efforts to negotiate a peace deal.
The decision was announced by outgoing Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in a public letter addressed to Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, which was made public by Brazil’s foreign ministry on Friday. “The government of Israel expresses sadness and disappointment over the

Sarkozy calls on India to back G20 agenda

BANGALORE: President Nicolas Sarkozy urged India on Saturday to support France’s agenda of reforming the global monetary system during its presidency of the G20 and hinted a nuclear deal could be signed on his trip.
The French president started his four-day visit in the southern technology hub of Bangalore. He leads a delegation of 50 senior businessmen as well as top cabinet officials, including Economy Minister Christine Lagarde. He wants to push an ambitious agenda

India seeks to double Bhopal compensation

NEW DELHI: The Indian government is seeking to more than double the compensation paid by a US chemical company for the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster to 1.1 billion dollars, a government lawyer said Friday.
The lawyer from the attorney general’s office said the government had filed a case in the Supreme Court demanding compensation of 50 billion rupees (1.1 billion dollars).
Last year, the government said it would look into how to retroactively increase the amount of compensation

Former British MP admits expenses fraud at Old Bailey

LONDON: Former Labour MP David Chaytor became the first politician to receive a criminal conviction over last year’s parliamentary expenses scandal when he admitted on Friday to fraudulently claiming almost 20,000 pounds.
Chaytor, 61, who had been MP for Bury North, had claimed back money he had paid in rent for houses that were in fact owned by himself and by his mother, and also put in false claims for IT services.
He had previously denied the charges and was due to stand

Malaysia’s Anwar says likely to be suspended from parliament

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said Friday he was likely to be suspended from parliament, after a disciplinary probe against him refused to hear his defence.
The government in April urged action against Anwar after he criticised its “One Malaysia” national unity slogan, saying it had been copied from the “One Israel” political alliance of former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak in 1999.
Muslim-majority Malaysia has no diplomatic relations with

Berlusconi in Russia amid revelations of US concern

MOSCOW: Silvio Berlusconi met Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday as leaked US cables revealed growing anxiety in Washington about the Italian prime minister’s ties to Moscow.
The disclosures forced both leaders to address poignant assessments of a relationship Washington believes has worked to the detriment of both the European Union and the United States. Medvedev said cables quoting sources who felt he played “Robin to (Prime Minister Vladimir) Putin’s Batman” revealed

Thousands battle Israel’s worst fire as toll hits 41

HAIFA: Thousands of Israeli firemen and rescuers fought Friday to control a massive forest fire that has killed 41 people, as global help poured in to battle the biggest inferno in the country’s history.
As high winds drove the blaze towards the northern port city of Haifa, police and medical officials said rescuers had recovered another body, taking the toll to 41, and warned the number of dead could still rise.
“As of this morning, we have recovered 41 bodies, and there

Sarkozy eyes defence, nuclear contracts in India

PARIS: President Nicolas Sarkozy heads to India on Saturday to try to sell French fighter jets and nuclear technology to the Asian giant while his pop star wife Carla Bruni pursues her AIDS charity work.
Sarkozy is taking seven ministers and a bevy of French industrialists along on the four-day trip, his first visit to a G20 state since France took the presidency of the group of developed and major developing economic powers. It shows France’s “recognition” of India’s position as

Karzai orders probe into NATO killing in Afghanistan

KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai ordered an investigation on Thursday into the killing by NATO forces of a former governor in southern Afghanistan, his office said.
According to Karzai’s office, troops broke into the house of Haji Ibrahim, a former district governor in the southern Helmand province, earlier this week, killing him and arresting six members of his family.
Gulab Mangal, the Helmand governor, told Karzai preliminary investigations had revealed Ibrahim was

Snow batters Europe as Britain grinds to a halt

LONDON: Fresh snowfalls swept northern Europe once again Thursday, causing misery for travellers as airports remain closed, roads were blocked and Eurostar international rail services were cancelled.
The unseasonable cold snap, which has lasted nearly a week, has caused Britain to grind to a halt, with thousands of schools closed and commuters stranded as rail services were cancelled and icy roads deemed unsafe. Gatwick Airport,
Britain’s second busiest airport after

Eight killed in election violence in Ivory Coast

ABIDJAN: Gunmen shot dead at least eight people in an attack on supporters of Ivory Coast presidential candidate Alassane Ouattara amid tensions over delayed vote results, witnesses told AFP on Thursday.
Violence erupted as Ouattara and President Laurent Gbagbo were locked in a stand-off over results of the hotly contested presidential vote, following pre-election violence that left at least another seven people dead. Witnesses in the western Yopougon district of Abidjan, a

Iran says nuclear scientist’s murder warning from West

TEHRAN: Iranian atomic energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi said on Wednesday that the assassination of a top nuclear scientist was a warning from the West ahead of new talks on Tehran’s programme.
“These wicked people wanted to show their hideous side which demonstrates their carrot and stick policy in the run-up to the new nuclear talks,” state television’s website quoted Salehi as saying.
He was speaking at the funeral of Majid Shahriari, the scientist who was killed by

‘Dancing’ Kazakh PM unfazed by WikiLeaks revelations

ASTANA: Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov on Wednesday said he was perfectly happy with revelations on leaked US diplomatic cables which showed him to be a tireless nightclub dancer.
Amid the diplomatic furore over the leaked cables on website WikiLeaks, Masimov told Agence-France Presse in an interview that he was one of few world leaders to have been untroubled by the unusual glimpse behind the scenes.
As well as recounting the lavish lifestyle of the Kazakh elite, the

Russia forms world’s first nuclear fuel bank

MOSCOW: Russia announced on Wednesday that it had created the world’s first international atomic fuel bank as part of a global effort to curb the spread of nuclear arms.
The Rosatom state atomic energy corporation said the Siberian fuel reserve – which will operate under the auspices of the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear watchdog – will have enough material to refuel two civilian nuclear power plants.
The Angarsk facility now stores 120