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Posts Tagged ‘hold’

US, Russian presidents hold impromptu summit

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2010 at 10:09 am

Lawmakers hold televised session

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2010 at 11:49 am

Rescued Chilean miners hold emotional reunion

In Uncategorized on October 18, 2010 at 10:24 am

COPIAPO, Chile, Oct 17 (AFP) – Rescued Chilean miners have celebrated an emotional mass at the scene of their record-breaking survival amid some strains over the media frenzy surrounding them.

Thirteen survivors, accompanied by partners and children, took part in a private ceremony Sunday after visiting the tent city where relatives refused to give up hope, waiting anxiously for 10 long weeks for their safe return.

Chilean miner Jorge Galleguillos (R), one of the 33 recently rescued from the San Jose mine, is shown back at the mine for a Mass on October 17, 2010. AFP

Claudio Yanez, who proposed to his longtime companion Cristina Nunez during the ordeal, toured Camp Hope with his tiny daughter in his arms, peering into tents now empty and battered by the strong Atacama desert winds.

“This was a city,” he said, while workers slowly set about taking down the makeshift shelters that became home to thousands of relatives and well wishers as the massive rescue effort reached its euphoric climax on Wednesday.

Dario Segovia, a rescued drill operator whose sister Maria was nicknamed “The Mayoress” for the leadership role she assumed at the camp, paid tribute to the stoicism of the miners’ families.

“Everyone suffered out here as we suffered down there,” he said.

Many miners did not attend the mass as they were still recuperating after their 69-day ordeal, while others were sleeping off family celebrations that ran late into Saturday night following their release from hospital.

Only one miner, Victor Zamora, remains in the care of doctors and he is expected to remain under medical observation until at least Tuesday after undergoing serious dental surgery.

The return to the mine was part of what is expected to be a long process of readjustment for the 33 men, who have become national heroes and garnered global attention for their miraculous survival and dramatic rescue.

Their newfound fame could bring them riches, but they also plan to use it to improve the fate of miners worldwide, they said.

But some miners and their families began showing strains from the media frenzy over their spectacular tale of survival, with some apparently adhering to a “pact of silence” over the ordeal.

At least three miners contacted by AFP confirmed that there is an agreement of silence, but only about the first 17 days of their ordeal, when they survived on sparsely rationed bites of tuna and drank dirty mine water until they were able to get word to rescuers that they were alive.

“We will not talk about the first 17 days until the investigation (into the mine collapse) is complete,” said Carlos Bugueno, one of the rescued workers.

But fellow miner Omar Reygadas said there was no such pact.

“There is no pact of silence,” he said. “There is nothing to hide, we went through the experience as partners, there is nothing to be ashamed about.”

Still, Reygadas grew impatient as he navigated through a crowd of news crews around the tent where his family slept while he was trapped.

“Give me my space please,” he said.

Fellow miner Claudio Acuna was with a crying baby, riding in a car surrounded by journalists. A woman inside said to the him: “Smile, so they can take your picture, and then they will leave us alone.”

Although the miners in the camp had no problems posing for the cameras, almost all of them refused to give statements to the press.

Police had to intervene to allow the miners to tour the remnants of Camp Hope, at the foot of the San Jose Mine, where the accident occurred.

At a press conference Saturday, miner Juan Illanes, who acted as spokesman for the group, urged the media to have patience in reporting and said that the miners expected to write a book about their experience.

“We have to do something together, the experience must be put to use,” Illanes told El Mercurio newspaper. “We have to decide how to direct our project so this type of thing never happens again.”

Yonni Barrios, who famously asked both his wife and his girlfriend to come to the mine and greet him on Wednesday, told AFP the men wanted to find a way to advise companies on making mines safer.

“We’re thinking about creating a foundation to solve problems in the mining industry,” he said. “With this, with the experience that we have had, God help us, we should be able to solve these problems.”

Source: SGGP

Thousands of Chinese hold anti-Japan protest marches

In Uncategorized on October 16, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Thousands of Chinese protesters marched in at least three cities on Saturday to vent their anger at Japan following a nasty spat involving disputed islands, state media and witnesses said.

Meanwhile nationalist groups rallied in Japan on Saturday against China’s “invasion” into Japanese islands, scuffling with men who tried to block the march through central Tokyo streets.

In China, demonstrators in the cities of Xian, Chengdu and Zhengzhou shouted slogans asserting Chinese sovereignty over the islands and called for boycotts of Japanese goods, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.

Some protesters had learned about the planned demonstrations on the Internet and came to join, it said, but added that the protests were peaceful and watched closely by police stationed along marching routes.

In Japan, Japanese national flags fluttered in a park in the capital as more than 1,000 people gathered for the second major rally since a bitter territorial row flared up over a maritime incident last month near the disputed islands.

Banners carried such messages as “Japan is in danger!” and “Don’t forgive invader China”.

As demonstrators left the park and started a march, two young men, believed to be Chinese, sat in the street to stop the rally.

One of their banners warned against exclusionism and read: “Stop fuelling harassment towards Chinese residents in Japan”.

China broke off contacts with Tokyo last month after Japan detained a Chinese fishing boat captain whose vessel collided with Japanese coastguard ships near the disputed islands.

Both sides claim the islands in the East China Sea which are known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan.

The two close trading partners have since moved to patch up the row, but the protests showed lingering public anger at Japan, which is still resented in China for its brutal World War II invasion and occupation of parts of China.


Source: SGGP

Myanmar to hold general election on November 7

In Uncategorized on August 13, 2010 at 11:21 am

YANGON, Aug 13, 2010 (AFP) – Myanmar announced Friday it will hold its first election in two decades on November 7.

Aung San Suu Kyi is barred from standing in the polls because she is a serving prisoner.

A group of former NLD members has formed a new party, the National Democratic Force (NDF), to stand in the election — a move that has put it at odds with Suu Kyi, who was opposed to participating in the polls.

Without Suu Kyi, few think the NDF — or any other opposition group — could repeat the NLD’s landslide victory in 1990.

So far 40 parties have been allowed to register to stand in the polls. 

Source: SGGP

N.Korea to hold more talks with US military on ship sinking

In Uncategorized on July 29, 2010 at 11:18 am

SEOUL, July 29, 2010 (AFP) – North Korea and the US-led United Nations Command will hold more talks Friday about the sinking of a South Korean warship, two days after the end of a major military exercise denounced by Pyongyang.

Colonels from the two sides will meet at 10 am (0100 GMT) at the border truce village of Panmunjom, the UN Command said in a statement.

South Korean army officers gather as they plan a military exercise in Seoul on July 28, 2010. AFP

Cross-border tensions have risen sharply since South Korea and the United States accused the North in late May of torpedoing the ship near the disputed inter-Korean border with the loss of 46 lives.

US and South Korean forces Wednesday wrapped up a four-day naval and air exercise — the first in a series — which they said was intended to warn the North against further attacks.

“These defensive, combined training exercises are designed to send a clear message to North Korea that its aggressive behavior must stop,” said General Walter Sharp in a statement.

Sharp commands the 28,500 US troops in South Korea as well as heading the UN Command, which has been based in the South since the end of the 1950-53 war to enforce the armistice which ended the conflict.

North Korea vehemently denies any role in sinking the Cheonan corvette in March, but agreed to hold talks with the UN Command about the incident. It fiercely denounced this week’s war games and threatened military retaliation.

At a previous meeting at Panmunjom the North demanded to send a high-level team to the South to inspect evidence dredged from the seabed.

Seoul has displayed part of what it says is a North Korean torpedo to support its contention that its neighbour was to blame for the warship attack.

It has rejected the North’s demand to send investigators, saying the UN Command should handle the case as a serious breach of the armistice.

When the talks were last held on July 23, the two sides discussed forming a joint group to assess the circumstances of and evidence on the sinking.

Source: SGGP

S.Korea, US hold drills as N.Korea hails war “victory”

In Uncategorized on July 28, 2010 at 7:17 am

SEOUL, July 28, 2010 (AFP) – North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il has attended a concert marking “victory” in the Korean War, official media said Wednesday, as US and South Korean forces pressed on with a military exercise to deter Pyongyang.

Kim hailed his country’s “shining victory” during a concert marking Tuesday’s 57th anniversary of the armistice which ended the three-year conflict, the Korean Central News Agency said.

Tensions remain high almost six decades after the truce, which was never followed by a peace treaty.

South Korea and its US ally say a North Korean submarine torpedoed one of Seoul’s warships in March with the loss of 46 lives.

On Sunday they launched a major naval and air exercise aimed at deterring what they call future North Korean provocations.

This US Navy handout photo shows Republic of Korea Navy SH-60S Sea Hawk helicopters from the Republic of Korea Navy amphibious landing ship Dokdo as they land July 27, 2010 aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington during operation “Invincible Spirit”. AFP

About 20 ships including the 97,000-ton carrier USS George Washington, 200 aircraft including four F-22 Raptor stealth fighters, and 8,000 personnel are taking part in the largest joint drill for years.

The exercise, which has focused on defences against submarines, was scheduled to end at 5 pm (0800 GMT) Wednesday. But Seoul’s defence ministry has said some nine other joint drills will be held later this year.

The North has threatened nuclear retaliation against the drill, which it depicts as a rehearsal for invasion. However Seoul’s military says no unusual military moves have been detected across the border.

The United States has also announced new sanctions to punish the North for the sinking and push it to scrap its nuclear weapons programme.

Robert Einhorn, the State Department’s special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, will arrive in Seoul this weekend, Yonhap news agency quoted a diplomatic source as saying.

South Korean officials will meet the Americans Monday to discuss financial sanctions and other penalties against the North, the source said. The dates could not immediately be confirmed.

The US delegation will include about five officials from the defense and treasury departments and the National Security Council, Yonhap said. It will also reportedly visit Japan, Malaysia and Singapore to seek cooperation in enforcing the financial sanctions.

Widespread South Korean media reports say the US has identified some 200 North Korea-linked bank accounts in foreign countries, and is expected to freeze about half of them on suspicion they are linked to illicit activities.

“We’re looking to identify front companies which help North Korea evade existing sanctions,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Monday, without confirming the figures.

Source: SGGP

Democrats put US climate change legislation plans on hold

In Uncategorized on July 23, 2010 at 11:18 am

WASHINGTON, July 22, 2010 (AFP) – Democratic lawmakers scrapped plans Thursday to introduce climate change legislation, recognizing they do not have enough votes and preparing instead an energy bill addressing the BP oil spill.

“Unfortunately, at this time, not one Republican wants to join us in achieving this goal” of adopting a comprehensive climate bill, said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “That isn’t just disappointing. It’s dangerous.”

President Barack Obama has made climate change legislation a key priority, and told Americans during an Oval Office address in June that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was a sign of the urgent need for energy alternatives.

He called the disaster “the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now” and urged Americans to “seize control of our own destiny.”

But Republicans have balked at sweeping energy reform, arguing that policies like “cap-and-trade,” intended to limit harmful emissions, will cost American businesses and hobble US innovation.

In the face of unified opposition, and lacking the 60-vote supermajority needed to pass legislation without Republican votes, Reid and Democratic Senator John Kerry said they would focus on a narrower bill for now.

“To be clear: we are not putting forth this bill in place of a comprehensive bill,” Reid said.

“But we will not pass up the opportunity to hold BP accountable, lessen our dependence on oil, create good paying American jobs and protect the environment.”

Kerry said he would continue to work with Independent Senator Joe Lieberman toward comprehensive legislation that targets carbon emissions “so that we can send signals to the marketplace and change the direction and create jobs for America and improve our security.”

The less ambitious legislation being developed would directly address the catastrophic oil spill triggered by an explosion aboard the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20.

It would seek to ensure that BP assumes all the costs of cleaning up spilled oil, propose measures to prevent similar environmental disasters and help create more “green jobs” in clean energy production.

The measures had originally been intended to be included in a broader climate and energy bill, and, unlike cap-and-trade, enjoy Republican support, Reid insisted. The House of Representatives passed a bill that included a cap-and-trade system in June 2009.

Talks on a climate bill could be revived this fall, ahead of crucial mid-term elections in November, lawmakers said.

“We will continue to work with the senators to craft important comprehensive legislation,” White House Director of Energy Policy Carol Browner said after meeting with Senate Democrats.

Kerry, a key player in climate negotiations, said he was “absolutely confident” a comprehensive measure could be passed swiftly, and would not suffer the same fate as comprehensive health care reform, enacted earlier this year after decades of bitter political bickering.

Environmentalists, though, said more needed to be done.

“The failure to price carbon leaves a giant hole in US energy and climate policy, and the long-term cost to the United States will be enormous,” said Rafe Pomerance, founder of Clean Air-Cool Planet.

Union of Concerned Scientists president Kevin Knobloch said the Senate has an “absolute responsibility to act on climate change this year.”

Source: SGGP

Netanyahu to hold key White House talks

In Uncategorized on July 6, 2010 at 12:14 pm

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President Barack Obama hosts Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday for a White House summit that could see a strong push for direct peace talks with the Palestinians.

A warm red-carpet welcome is expected, in stark contrast to Netanyahu’s previous visit in March when he was given the cold shoulder by Obama because of a row over the expansion of Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem.

US President Barack Obama walks towards the Oval Office at the White House. AFP

A diplomatic flurry in the run-up to this visit, including talks on Monday between Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad, suggested movement in the stagnant peace process.

The political calculus has also changed with Obama more jumpy about the important US-Israel axis in the run-up to mid-term elections and Netanyahu appearing keener for direct negotiations with the Palestinians.

“I believe that a main part of my conversations with President Obama in Washington next week will be focused on how to start direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians right away,” Netanyahu said last week.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will hold a working lunch with the Israeli leader from 12:35 (1635 GMT), according to the White House.

While no major announcements are expected, US officials talked optimistically about the chances of progress after weeks of shuttle diplomacy by Obama’s Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell.

“Certainly a major focus of the discussion will be around the progress that’s been made so far in the proximity talks and the opportunity to make the transition into direct talks,” said White House adviser Dan Shapiro.

“We feel that already in the little over a month that these talks have been going on, the gaps have narrowed. And we believe there are opportunities to further narrow those gaps to allow the sides to take that next step to the direct talks.”

The Palestinians froze direct negotiations in December 2008 when Israel launched a deadly 22-day offensive against the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip to halt rocket attacks.

Also on the agenda will be Iran’s nuclear programme and Gaza, where Israel has eased a four-year blockade following pressure after its deadly raid on an aid flotilla that killed nine Turks, one of them with US nationality.

The May 31 raid badly damaged relations between Israel and Turkey, two key US allies. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu warned on the eve of the visit that ties with Israel would be cut unless an apology was forthcoming.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said he expected Netanyahu to give Obama “a report on the early stages of the Israeli investigation into the flotilla tragedy” and that the two would discuss “recent progress” on Gaza.

When Netanyahu and Obama last met in March, the Israeli leader was reportedly chastised by his host and denied privileges customarily granted to foreign dignitaries, even the ritual handshake photo.

It was an expression of Washington’s ire at Israeli plans to build 1,600 Jewish homes in annexed east Jerusalem, announced during a trip to Israel by US Vice President Joe Biden in a move that Washington called “insulting.”

This time, the temperature in the White House is likely to be warmer, with the usual niceties observed.

Obama’s Democratic Party is expected to face a tough battle in November’s mid-term elections and could lose its congressional majority, while Netanyahu is negotiating his own political minefield.

Obama wants Israel to extend a West Bank settlement freeze due to expire in September, but right wingers in Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, notably Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, fiercely oppose a further moratorium.

Source: SGGP

Turkey, Israel hold secret talks to mend ties: official

In Uncategorized on July 1, 2010 at 2:25 pm

ANKARA (AFP) – Turkish and Israeli ministers met secretly in Brussels to seek ways of mending fences amid a deep crisis over a deadly raid on Gaza-bound aid ships last month, a Turkish official said Thursday.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Israeli Trade Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer met Wednesday in Brussels, where Davutoglu was on a visit to discuss his country’s bid to join the European Union.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu pictured on June 30, 2010 (AFP)

The talks “took place yesterday in Brussels upon a request by Israel,” the official who declined to be named told AFP.

“We had already conveyed a note to Israel explaining our expectations from them… Those expectations were repeated at the meeting,” the official said.

It was the first bilateral meeting on a ministerial level since relations between the once-close allies plunged into deep crisis on May 31 when Israeli commandos raided a Turkish ship leading an aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip.

The United States has expressed concern over the deteriorating ties between the two countries.

Eight Turks and a dual US-Turkish citizen were killed in the operation, which shattered bilateral ties, already strained since Israel’s devastating war on Gaza last year

Ankara immediately recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv and cancelled three planned joint military exercises. It also denied permission twice to Israeli military aircraft to use its air space.

Senior Turkish officials have said Turkey expects Israel to apologise for the bloodshed, compensate the victims’ families, agree to an international inquiry and release three Turkish vessels seized in the operation.

Ankara also wants the crippling blockade of Gaza to be lifted.

Ben Eliezer is known as an advocate of good ties with Turkey. He was the first Israeli minister to visit Ankara last year after the Jewish state’s war on Gaza triggered vehement Turkish criticism.

But his talks with Davutoglu in Brussels were concealed from the Israeli foreign ministry, infuriating the hawkish and outspoken minister, Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Channel Two reported.

While not mentioning Ben Eliezer or Davutoglu by name, Lieberman said talks had taken place without his knowledge or approval.

“The foreign minister takes a very serious view of the fact that this occurred without informing the foreign ministry,” his office said in a statement late Wednesday.

“This is an insult to the norms of accepted behaviour and a heavy blow to the confidence between the foreign minister and the prime minister,” it said.

A statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said he had approved a request from Ben Eliezer to hold an unofficial meeting with a “Turkish personality” and the failure to coordinate with the foreign ministry had been due to “technical reasons.”

Turkey’s NTV news channel said the meeting took place in a hotel suite and lasted more than two hours.

It was kept secret also from Turkey’s chief EU negotiator Egemen Bagis and Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker, who were in Brussels with the foreign minister, the report said.

Davutoglu and Ben Eliezer discussed ways of repairing bilateral ties, with the Turkish minister insisting Israel must apologise over the deadly raid on the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara, it said.

The two agreed to keep the meeting secret, share their discussions with their prime ministers and meet again secretly on a future date, it added.

Source: SGGP