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Posts Tagged ‘begins’

Muslim pilgrims pour into Mina as the hajj begins

In Uncategorized on November 15, 2010 at 6:30 am

Report: NKorea begins building light-water reactor

In Uncategorized on November 13, 2010 at 9:54 am

Iran begins fuelling Bushehr nuclear reactor

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2010 at 5:35 am

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran on Tuesday began fuelling the reactor core of its Russian-built nuclear power plant while saying the content, date and venue of new talks with the big powers on its atomic programme have yet to be agreed.


“Today, the plant is going through the sensitive phase of loading fuel in the core … We hope that the electricity produced by the Bushehr nuclear plant will be connected to the national grid in three months’ time,” state television reported atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi as saying.

The reactor building at the Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran, 1200 Kms south of Tehran. AFP file

“Bushehr power plant is one of the world’s exceptional plants … I am optimistic about the future and, with the commissioning of this plant, we will witness the construction of other plants in different areas of our country.”


The transfer of fuel into the facility began on August 21 in a process that was described as the “physical launch” of the power plant by Russia, which took over construction of the complex in the mid 1990s.


Rich in both oil and gas, Iran says it needs the plant to meet a growing demand for electricity.


Tuesday’s announcement takes Iran a step closer to putting its first nuclear power plant on stream.


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Iran should be allowed to have civilian nuclear power but renewed accusations that it was seeking atomic weapons.


“Iran is entitled to the peaceful use of civilian nuclear power. They are not entitled to a nuclear weapons program,” Clinton said on the sidelines of a UN Security Council debate.


“Our problem is not with their reactor at Bushehr, our problem is with their facilities at places like Natanz and their secret facility at Qom and other places where we believe they are conducting their weapons program.”


Moscow has supplied 82 tonnes of fuel for Bushehr and also plans to reprocess the spent material.


Contractors from Germany’s Siemens began work on the Bushehr plant in the 1970s under the rule of the US-backed shah, but the project was shelved when the shah was toppled in the 1979 Islamic revolution.


It was revived a decade later under current supreme leader Ali Khamenei and, in 1994, Russia agreed to complete its construction.


Tehran, at loggerheads with the West over its controversial nuclear drive, also said on Tuesday that the content, date and venue of mooted new talks with six major powers on its nuclear programme have yet to be finalised.


“We are hopeful that through exchange of views by both parties, we would come to an agreement regarding date, venue and more importantly content and agenda of this negotiation,” Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told a news conference.


In remarks translated into English by Iran’s Press TV channel, Mottaki acknowledged that the “political will” for talks existed among both parties.


European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton proposed on Friday that the negotiations be held November 15-17 in Vienna.


Iran has always insisted that the talks be held on the basis of a package of proposals it gave the major powers before the last round of talks last October. The package does not explicitly talk of its atomic programme.


In a letter to Iran on Friday, Ashton insisted that the “main focus” of the talks be the “question of the Iranian nuclear programme,” which Western governments suspect is aimed at developing a weapons capability, an ambition Tehran strongly denies.


Ashton represents six major powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — in the negotiations with Iran.


Iranian officials including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have broadly welcomed fresh talks, but a spokesman for Ashton said on Friday she was still waiting for Tehran’s formal response.


Ahmadinejad and several lawmakers have laid down three conditions they say the major powers must answer during the negotiations.


Lawmakers say these were outlined to Ashton in a July letter by Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.


He told Ashton the world powers must say whether the talks are aimed at “engagement and cooperation or continued confrontation and hostility towards Iranians.”


“Will you be committed to the logic of talks which calls for avoiding threats and pressure?” he asked, while also urging the six powers to state their “clear view” on the “Zionist regime’s nuclear arsenal.”


Israel, which has not ruled out taking military action against Iran over its nuclear programme, is widely believed to have the Middle East’s sole but undeclared nuclear arsenal.


Iran is under four sets of United Nations sanctions for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment, the most controversial part of its nuclear programme.

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Source: SGGP

Ho Chi Minh City Days festival begins in Pusan

In Uncategorized on October 18, 2010 at 10:25 am

The “Ho Chi Minh City Days in Pusan ” festival opened at the Pusan Cultural Centre in the Republic of Korea , on October 14, with a special show to mark the 15 th anniversary of both municipalities becoming sister cities.

Vietnam ’s Ambassador to the RoK Tran Trong Toan underlined the growing relationship the two sister cities have had over the past few years.


He highlighted the efforts made by the authorities and people of both cities to develop their friendship and cooperation, including the important role played by Vietnam ’s consul general in Pusan and Kyeongnam, the RoK’s consul general in HCM City as well as friendship organisations, businesses and individuals from both cities.


Leaders from both cities spoke highly of the fruitful results of bilateral relations and discussed plans for cooperating further in the future during the talks, within the framework of the festival.


A series of cooperative agreements signed by both municipal authorities has helped to promote political, economic, and cultural activities between both cities.


They have also exchanged delegations to share their experiences in developing and managing the real estate market, transportation, post and telecoms. They also debated how districts from both cities could cooperate more effectively.


First established in November 1995, the relationship between HCM City and Pusan is considered the most dynamic twinning between Vietnam and the RoK.


The festival is a regular and rotated activity between both countries to promote bilateral political, economic and cultural cooperation.

Source: SGGP

Aid begins to flow to flood-ravaged Pakistan

In Uncategorized on August 19, 2010 at 7:22 am

MULTAN, Pakistan (AFP) – Foreign aid has begun flowing to the 20 million victims of floods in Pakistan, but thousands remain without food or shelter as weather forecasts signalled there may be some let-up.


Monsoon systems were weakening after three weeks of torrential rains brought devastating floods that have left at least 1,400 people dead in the country’s worst natural disaster, with survivors hitting out at the government’s slow response.

(AFP) An aerial view shows water covering huge areas in the southern Punjab province.

The floods wiped out villages, farmland and infrastructure, and OCHA, the United Nations’ aid coordination body, said that more than 650,000 homeless families were still without basic shelter.


At a camp for 3,000 displaced people in the south of Punjab province, most sat in crippling heat, batting away mosquitoes. Concerns were growing about cholera and typhoid, while many were suffering from stomach problems.


Half were children, an army official told AFP, with a few crammed into tents furnished with straw cots, while others were held back by soldiers as they attempted to reach medical and food supplies arriving by helicopter.


The UN last week launched an immediate appeal for 460 million dollars, and said Wednesday that funding had reached 54.5 percent of this target, though that included pledges that were yet to turn into cash.


The nuclear-armed country is on the frontline of the US-led fight against Al-Qaeda and the Pakistani military is locked in battle with Taliban in the northwest, on the border with Afghanistan.


Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has warned that the disaster could play into the hands of insurgents.


US ambassador to Islamabad, Anne Patterson, said: “We don’t know what impact it’s having on the insurgents… the idea that this flood would essentially come on top of a very corrosive insurgency is extremely worrisome.”


Zamir Akram, Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, said the country had received more immediate relief aid through the UN and direct bilateral aid totalling about 301 million dollars (235 million euros).


The World Bank has also agreed to lend Islamabad 900 million dollars, warning that the disaster’s impact on the economy was expected to be “huge” and would take years to put right.


The European Union announced that it would provide an additional 30 million euros (39 million dollars) in emergency relief assistance, bringing its total aid to 70 million euros.


In Washington, the State Department said US aid to Pakistan had reached around 90 million dollars, adding: “America’s response to this tragic flood has been consistent with our humanitarian values and our deep commitment to Pakistan”.


Islamabad has confirmed 1,475 deaths, but WHO representative Guido Sabatinelli told AFP he suspected the toll was much higher.


“We’re talking about 20 million people affected today and there is no infrastructure and no health centres that can register the deaths,” he said.


About six million people are deemed to be at risk of deadly water-borne diseases, with typhoid, hepatitis and cholera major concerns.


“Two million dollars are needed every day to provide water, this is not sustainable. We don’t have two million dollars a day,” said Daniel Toole, the regional director for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).


Ambassador Akram said reconstruction in northern areas alone could cost 2.5 billion dollars and said the floods had ravaged an area the size of England.


In Islamabad Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said the government was worried about some half million expectant mothers among the flood victims, and was making plans for those who would give birth soon.


“Among 14 million affected people there are about 500,000 pregnant mothers and we plan to move to or near hospitals those who are expected to deliver within two weeks,” Kaira said.


Kaira said the official toll of dead and injured, as well as the number of damaged houses, could rise once the floods began to recede.


“Total confirmed death toll is 1,475 and 2,052 people were wounded, and 970,520 houses were damaged. These numbers may change on the higher side as the flood water recedes and damage assessment begins.”


Former Pakistani cricket hero and politician Imran Khan Wednesday, along with a leading newspaper group, launched a fund-raising campaign to aid the flood victims.


“People do not trust government, so we have come forward and every rupee donated for flood-hit people will be accounted for,” Khan told a news conference in Islamabad.

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Source: SGGP

BP begins crucial well ‘kill’ in Gulf of Mexico

In Uncategorized on August 4, 2010 at 7:19 am

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – BP began operations to permanently plug the runaway well that has brought environmental and economic ruin to the Gulf of Mexico and spilled more oil into the sea than ever before.

Ships work near the site of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. AFP

Engineers launched their long-awaited static kill at 2000 GMT Tuesday, ramming heavy fluid into the blown-out Macondo well to force the crude back down into a reservoir almost 3.5 miles (5.7 kilometers) beneath the surface of the sea.


BP was optimistic after conducting “text-book” tests that showed the oil could be subdued, though senior vice president Kent Wells said it was too early to know if the process would take hours or days.


Once the heavy drilling fluid, known as mud, is holding down the oil, the aim is to pour in a cement plug that will permanently seal off the reservoir.


Any leaks in the steel casing of the well would complicate matters as it would mean the area between the pipe and the outer well bore, known as the annulus, would also have to be filled up with mud.


The best case scenario could see the well put permanently out of action by Wednesday, although a “bottom kill” will be performed through a relief well in mid-August to cement in the outer well bore and be certain of success.


If the well casing has leaks, a decision could be taken to hold off on the cement job until the relief well is ready.


“We’re so early in the process there’s no way for me to give you any early indication. The only thing I would say is the injectivity test went well and so that gives us the encouragement,” said Wells.


Thad Allen, the US government point man in the disaster, was emphatic that the static kill “will increase the probability that the relief well will work.” In the long run, “drilling into the annulus and into the casing pipe from below, filling that with mud and then filling that with cement is the only solution to the end of this,” he told reporters.


The extent of the spill was confirmed when US government experts on Monday announced that the oil had been pouring out at a rate of 62,000 barrels a day — more than 12 times faster than BP originally admitted.


This was also higher than any previous official estimate, and meant 4.9 million barrels of crude — more than 205 million gallons — spewed into the Gulf in the 87 days it took to cap it, making it the biggest maritime spill ever.


If BP is found guilty of negligence, the flow rate means it could face up to 17.6 billion dollars in fines. The firm has also set up a 20 billion dollar fund to pay claims from individuals and businesses hit by the disaster.


Shutting the well will bring some relief to coastal residents who have been uncertain about their future and frustrated at the cleanup effort since the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in April and sank to the bottom of the Gulf.


The full economic and environmental cost of the spill will remain unknown for some time, but a hint of what is to come was found in a report out Tuesday by researchers at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP) at Columbia University.


Of 1,200 coastal Gulf coast residents the researchers surveyed last month, 40 percent said they had been directly exposed to the spill, a third said it had affected their kids, and 20 percent said it had hit their wallets.


Parents reported that their children had developed mental, behavioral or physical problems — everything from respiratory problems and rashes to feelings of sadness or nervousness, difficulty socializing with other children, or trouble getting to sleep.


One in five residents told the Columbia researchers that their household income had fallen, with poor residents — those who earned less than 25,000 dollars a year — feeling the pinch more than the better-off.


While there is hope that Louisiana’s marshes and fragile wetlands may recover relatively quickly, no one knows the real spill impact on the Gulf food chain.

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Source: SGGP

Table tennis tourney begins in Ba Ria-Vung Tau

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2010 at 9:00 am




Table tennis tourney begins in Ba Ria-Vung Tau


QĐND – Wednesday, July 14, 2010, 20:56 (GMT+7)

The 24th Golden Racket International Table Tennis Tournament kicked off in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau on July 13.


The even, which will run until July 18, is being jointly held by the Vietnam Table Tennis Federation, the HCM City Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the HCM City Table Tennis Federation, the Oil and Gas Culture, Sports Joint Stock Company and the Ba Ria-Vung Tau Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.


The event has attracted 106 players from seven countries and territories, including Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Republic of Korea (RoK), Japan, Hong Kong and Vietnam.


This year, the RoK team, with the largest number of players, is expected to be the tournamen’s favourites.


The Vietnamese teams include the national team, a team from HCM City and the Petro Vietnam club.


The PetroVietnam club team will include Doan Kien Quoc, the country’s No.1 player and Tran Tuan Quynh from the national team plus three Chinese players, Kou Lei, Yang Cei and Yang Xin.


This is the first year that the tournament has been held outside of HCM City.


Source: VNA


Source: QDND

Israel begins deporting aid fleet activists

In Uncategorized on June 3, 2010 at 2:06 am

A man holds a sign during a rally in New York. AFP photo

JERUSALEM, June 2 (AFP) – Israel began deporting all foreign activists detained during a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, as international pressure mounted and Turkey warned it risked losing its “sole friend” in the Middle East.


“Israel is faced with the danger of losing its sole friend in the region and the greatest contributor so far to regional peace,” a statement Wednesday quoted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as telling US President Barack Obama in a one-hour telephone conversation.


“The steps that it (Israel) will undertake in the coming days will determine its position in the region,” Erdogan said.


He told Obama Monday’s operation on an international flotilla carrying supplies to the Gaza Strip, which resulted in nine deaths, was “unacceptable lawlessness,” the statement said.


Erdogan stressed Israel’s blockade of Gaza, in place since 2007, should be lifted and called on Israel to release the passengers and vessels of the seized flotilla.


Earlier a statement from the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “all foreign nationals who were on board the fleet and were arrested will be deported from Tuesday night.”


The operation was expected to be completed within 48 hours, it added.


About 120 people, mostly Algerians and Indonesians were about to cross the land border into Jordan, while 60 Turks were at Ben Gurion airport, near Tel Aviv, awaiting special flights home, Israeli army radio said Wednesday.


Another 70 Turkish citizens were on their way from prison to the airport, the radio said.


Of the 682 people from 42 countries aboard the six ships that were towed to an Israeli port after Monday’s bloody raid, 45 were flown out Monday and Tuesday.


The decision to release the activists came after mounting international pressure to free the detainees.


The UN Security Council called for the ships and the civilians who had been on board to be released and to transport the aid to Gaza.


It also called for “a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards.”


Israeli troops said they had killed nine of the activists during Monday’s operation to capture the six-ship flotilla, which had 682 passengers from 42 countries.


Pierre Wettach, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation, said his group was checking on the condition and whereabouts of those wounded and those detained by Israeli authorities.


Israel’s decision to back down and release the detainees followed two days of stinging international criticism.


The White House declined to specifically condemn Israel, but US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the situation in Gaza was “unsustainable and unacceptable.”


“Israel’s legitimate security needs must be met just as the Palestinians’ legitimate needs for sustained humanitarian assistance and regular access for reconstruction materials must also be ensured,” she added.


Clinton backed an Israeli probe of the raid, while stressing that it had to be “prompt, impartial, credible and transparent.”


Israel insists the boarding would have been peaceful if the commandos had not been attacked by dozens of club-wielding activists on the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara, which carried most of the passengers.


Organisers of the aid convoy meanwhile insisted they would push ahead with a fresh bid to break the blockade.


“We knew what the risk would be and we will continue to run these flotillas,” said Greta Berlin of the Free Gaza Movement.


“The Rachel Corrie will probably be there within the week.”


The aid-laden cargo ship, currently off the east coast of Italy, is named after a US activist crushed to death in 2003 by an Israeli army bulldozer during a protest on the Gaza Strip.


Greta Berlin said organisers were also working on plans for a new flotilla that would leave for Gaza in July.


But Israel was adamant it would not let any ships through.


“We will not let any ships reach Gaza and supply what has become a terrorist base threatening the heart of Israel,” deputy defence minister Matan Vilnai told public radio.


While Israel blamed the activists for the confrontation, passengers had an entirely different story.


“Personally, I saw two and a half wooden batons that were used… There was really nothing else. We never saw any knives,” former MP Norman Paech, 72, said on his arrival back in Berlin.


“This was a clear act of piracy,” said Paech, who was on the Mavi Marmara, where the worst of the violence took place.


Netanyahu, who consulted with his security cabinet after calling off White House talks with Obama, insisted the commandos had “defended themselves from a lynching.”


But the Israeli press was scathing about the botched operation, criticising the failure of the political and military leadership to anticipate such a scenario.


Flotilla organisers said the ships carried some 10,000 tonnes of aid destined for Gaza, which has suffered a crippling blockade imposed by Israel in 2006 and largely backed by Egypt.


Israeli authorities said some of the fleet’s supplies had been trucked to Gaza and more would follow.


The political fallout from the incident continued late Tuesday, as Nicaragua suspended diplomatic relations with Israel.

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Source: SGGP

Australia begins legal action to stop Japan whaling

In Uncategorized on June 1, 2010 at 7:47 am

TOKYO (AFP) – Australia has launched legal action at the International Court of Justice to stop Japan’s whaling programme, Japanese officials said Tuesday, calling the move “extremely regrettable”.


“We were informed that Australia has filed a lawsuit with the International Court of Justice regarding research whaling. We will discuss how to deal with it,” said a fisheries agency official.


Hirofumi Hirano, Japan’s top government spokesman, said: “I think it is extremely regrettable. The Japanese government will deal with it properly, based on our position.”

Inflatable humpback whales with the Sydney Opera House (top), help to launch the official start of the whale watching season in Sydney on June 1, 2010. AFP photo

Japan defends whaling as part of its cultural tradition and hunts the ocean giants under a loophole in a 1986 international moratorium on commercial whaling that allows lethal “scientific research”.


Australia has long protested the hunts, including annual whaling expeditions in Antarctic waters, and has in recent months hardened its stance, announcing last week that it would launch legal action in The Hague.


“We want to see an end to whales being killed in the name of science in the Southern Ocean,” said Environment Protection Minister Peter Garrett last week, vowing “to bring a permanent end to whaling in the Southern Ocean”.


A Japanese foreign ministry official told AFP on Tuesday: “We are studying our strategy regarding the lawsuit. Details are yet to be decided, but we won’t disclose our strategy even after we make a decision.”

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Source: SGGP

Work begins on VN’s biggest cement project

In Uncategorized on May 20, 2010 at 5:12 pm




Work begins on VN’s biggest cement project


QĐND – Thursday, May 20, 2010, 21:1 (GMT+7)

Kinh Bac Urban Development Corp and its affiliate Sai Gon – Tan Ky Cement Joint Stock Co began construction of a 1.5 billion USD cement industrial zone on May 19 in the central province of Nghe An.


Occupying a 600ha area in Tan Long Commune, the Sai Gon – Tan Ky cement industrial zone will be the country’s largest of its kind and is expected to churn out 14 million tonnes of cement annually when fully operational.


The zone’s first phase, costing 1.5 trillion VND (78.9 million USD), will take six years to complete.


“The new zone will supply large quantities of cement for major construction projects, particularly in Laos . It will help the company reduce investment costs and become more competitive,” the company said in its latest press release.


According to the General Statistics Office, in March the country produced 4.09 million tonnes of cement. Cement production in the first quarter of the year hit 11.13 million tonnes, 1.15 million tonnes more than the same period last year. Meanwhile, demand increased by 6.4 percent against the same period last year, reaching 10.27 million tonnes.


The country now has 105 production lines with an annual capacity of more than 61 million tonnes.


However, domestic demand this year is expected to be between 48 million and 50 million tonnes, resulting in a huge surplus.


Industry experts said domestic cement firms would find it difficult to break into major markets such as the US and the EU, which have extensive high-tech infrastructure already in place and a lower demand for cement.


The US and the EU also have high quality standards that many Vietnamese cement firms are unable to meet.


Africa and developing countries with poor infrastructure offer the most potential for Vietnamese exporters, industry experts have said.


Source: VNA


Source: QDND