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S.Korea holds major new drill as N.Korea raps ‘warmongers’

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 4:29 am

SEOUL (AFP) – South Korea’s military Thursday held a live-fire drill involving tanks, artillery and jet fighters, in a major show of strength staged exactly a month after North Korea’s attack on a border island.

Washington expressed support for the live-fire exercise by its ally, the second this week, but Pyongyang criticised the South’s “puppet warmongers”.

AFP file – South Korean marines patrol Yeonpyeong island.

The South’s President Lee Myung-Bak, visiting a frontline army unit elsewhere, told troops to hit back hard for any new attack. He accused the North of letting its people starve while it spent money on nuclear bombs.

The exercise at the Pocheon range, 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the tense land border with North Korea, lasted about 40 minutes.

Some 800 troops took part along with 30 K-1 tanks, 11 K-200 armoured personnel carriers, two F-15K jets, four KF-16 jets, 36 K-9 artillery pieces, three multiple long-range rockets, four 500MD helicopters, three AH-1S Cobra helicopters, and other equipment.

The navy is also conducting a four-day exercise off the east coast, which began Wednesday.

The South says its drills are defensive. But tensions have been high on the peninsula since the North shelled a South Korean island near the contested western sea border on November 23.

The North said its shelling was in response to the South’s live-fire drill on Yeonpyeong island. The South said it had been staging such artillery exercises for 37 years and the North was seeking a pretext to attack.

Seoul staged a repeat drill on the same island on Monday, backed up by jet fighters and warships, but the North did not follow through with threats to hit back.

Some analysts said Seoul’s show of force deterred the North. Others said the hardline regime had been told by close ally China to exercise restraint before a visit to Washington by President Hu Jintao starting on January 19.

The military invited students and other civilians to watch the exercise.

“We are facing a crisis because of North Korea, so I came to see this air and ground operation,” Kim Tae-Dong, a 70-year-old Internet businessman, told a pool reporter.

“I want to feel and see the level of South Korea’s armed forces,” Kim said.

“Another North Korean provocation will happen. We should prepare our military perfectly for that.”

Analysts agreed, saying that while Pyongyang had shown restraint this time it was likely just biding its time for another military strike.

“It’s not a question of whether there will be another provocation, but when,” said Peter Beck, a North Korea expert with the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations.

The North’s official news agency said the South’s claims that the drills are routine were an attempt “to conceal the provocative and offensive nature of the exercises”.

The wording was relatively mild. In another sign that tensions are easing, the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it had lowered a military alert issued for frontline areas before and during Monday’s drill.

Vulcan artillery vehicles fired into a wide valley with numbers carved on hills below to launch the show of strength.

Tanks raced along roads, firing as they went. A hillside blossomed smoke as artillery and rockets opened up.

Hovering helicopters fired rockets at targets, and F-15 aircraft dropped bombs into the valley, sending up huge plumes of smoke.

Lee, quoted by Yonhap news agency, said the military should retaliate without hesitation in case of another surprise attack.

The South’s military was heavily criticised for a perceived feeble response to last month’s attack. It has been stressing its battle-readiness and determination to hit back harder next time, using air power.

“We should make a stronger and bigger counter-strike so they cannot provoke us again,” Lee was quoted as saying.

“We’ve endured enough for long. We thought we could maintain peace on this land if we endured, but that was not the case,” Lee said. “Now we need to strongly retaliate to maintain peace, deter provocations and prevent war.”

People in the North, the president said, “are almost starving to death, and with the money spent to make atomic bombs, people can live”.

The United States, which has 28,500 troops based in the South, earlier warned North Korea there was no reason for it to respond to the latest drills.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the manoeuvres had been announced well in advance and were transparent and defensive, and “should in no way engender a response from the North Koreans”.

Source: SGGP

Cambodia holds day of mourning for stampede dead

In Uncategorized on November 25, 2010 at 1:19 am

PHNOM PENH, Nov 25, 2010 (AFP) – Cambodia’s prime minister led a mourning ceremony Thursday at the site of a bridge stampede in the capital that killed over 450 people in the worst national tragedy for decades.

A visibly emotional Hun Sen, dressed in black, wiped away a tear and burnt incense at a small altar erected at the foot of the narrow bridge, now cleared of the shoes, clothing and plastic bottles that were a grim reminder of the disaster that unfolded.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (R) and his wife Bun Rany (L) grieve during the mourning ceremony on November 25, 2010 in front of the bridge in Phnom Penh. AFP

His wife Bun Rany, wearing a black skirt and a white shirt, stood at her husband’s side and openly cried.

Other government officials also paid their respects during the short ceremony, as a military band played a sombre tune.

Officials said throngs of revellers celebrating the nation’s annual water festival apparently panicked as rumours rippled through the crowds that the bridge to an island in Phnomh Penh was about to give way.

“The deaths happened because the bridge was overcrowded and there was panic that the bridge was collapsing because it is hung by cables and it was swaying,” said Prum Sokha, who heads a panel investigating the tragedy.

“Some started screaming that the bridge was collapsing, that people were getting electric shocks and that the iron cables were snapping, so the people pushed each other and fell down and the stampede happened.

“The people had nowhere to run,” said Sokha, secretary of state at the interior ministry.

The government admitted it had overlooked issues of crowd control, while the victims’ families expressed growing anger about security at the event, which attracted some three million revellers from all over Cambodia.

“We were concerned about the possibilities of boats capsizing and pick-pocketing. We did well, but we did not think about this kind of incident,” government spokesman Khieu Kanharith told AFP.

He said a private firm had been in charge of security on the island and the bridge where the disaster unfolded.

“The place is private, so they used their own security, and police only helped handle order outside,” Kanharith said.

As the first funerals and cremations took place across the country Wednesday, distressed relatives searched for answers.

“I feel very sad and angry about what happened,” Phea Channara said at a funeral service for his 24-year-old sister on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

“I wonder if the police really did their job. Why did they allow it to happen in the first place?”

Hun Sen has described the disaster as Cambodia’s worst tragedy since the Khmer Rouge’s 1975-1979 reign of terror, which killed up to a quarter of the population.

The premier said a memorial stupa would be built “to commemorate the souls of the people who lost their lives in the incident… and to remember the serious tragedy for the nation and the Cambodian people.”

Social Affairs Minister Ith Samheng told AFP the toll from the tragedy had jumped to 456 dead and 395 injured.

“Some bodies were transported home straight away and some injured people died at home,” he said, explaining the increase.

Exuberant festival-goers had been crossing the bridge to reach an island hosting concerts, food stalls and ice sculptures when the stampede began, resulting in a deadly crush of bodies.

It marked a tragic end to the boat races, concerts and fireworks that are part of the traditional festival, which celebrates the reversal of the flow between the Tonle Sap and the Mekong river.

Source: SGGP

Kon Tum holds food fair

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 at 8:20 am

A food fair featuring special dishes of ethnic minorities in the central highland province of Kontum was held for the first time on November 23.

Special dishes of an ethnic group are displayed in the festival.  (Photo: NLD)

Ethnic minority groups including Bana, Xe Dang, Gia Rai, Gie Trieng and Brau introduced to visitors their unique cooking techniques and famous dishes such as banana inflorescences mixed dried buffalo meat, roast meat, bird mixed Ngoc Linh ginseng and more.

Vietnam is a nation with 54 ethnic minorities with rich and unique ethnic catering cultures distinctively reflecting the characteristics of each ethnic group.

Source: SGGP

Viettel holds 42% of Vietnam’s mobile market share

In Uncategorized on October 31, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Da Nang holds tour of prison to help disobedient youths live better

In Uncategorized on October 14, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Da Nang City Committee of Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, Da Nang War Veterans’ Association and Da Nang Police cooperated with each other to give nearly 300 disobedient youths, who have acts of stealing and disturbing the public order, and have been educated and kept under house arrest of the local authorities, a tour to prison on September 7. The city’s government hopes this treatment and educational method will help them to live better.

Da Nang’s disobedient youths visit Tan Hoa School No.3  (Photo: Sggp)

The delegation visited Hoa Son Detention Center and Tan Hoa School No.3 which is teaching and educating young people with bad behaviors of provinces and cities in the central region.

They visited detention rooms, accommodations, studying and working places of guilty persons. Varied changes and tones of feelings can be seen on their faces.

“The visit helped me to realize the value of life” said Nguyen Viet Hung, 17, who left school when he was in the 8th grade and addicted to online games. He has been placed under house arrest of the local authorities because of breaking the law.

“I addicted to online games after leaving school and then became a crime. I lost my future. I hope you will not lose your life and torment your friends, teachers and family” Truong Ba Lien, student of Tan Hoa School No.3, advised.

“The city’s government is always interested in you. I believe that you can choose the best things for your future, and will give up the bad and become a good citizen after this special visit” Danang Party Committee Secretary Nguyen Ba Thanh said at a talk with young people on the same day.

Source: SGGP

Ministry holds patriotic emulation congress

In Uncategorized on August 15, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Ministry holds patriotic emulation congress

QĐND – Sunday, August 15, 2010, 20:45 (GMT+7)

A congress on patriotic emulation in the 2006-2010 period was held in Hanoi on August 15 by the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) in the presence of Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan.  

Present at the event were also Minister of Information and Communication Le Doan Hop and more than 200 delegates representing outstanding individuals and collectives.

Over the past five years, the Ministry has launched many patriotic emulation movements to renew management skills, and encourage creativity, technical innovations and the application of advanced technology into production, which has helped the information and communication sector fulfill its political and socio-economic tasks.

So far, the postal system has more than 18,700 sites across the country of which more than 8,000 are at communal level to help disseminate Party and State policies in different regions.

Remarkable progress has been made in disseminating information about national security and defense, disaster control and prevention, and the celebration of national holidays. Through the emulation movements, many outstanding individuals and collectives have earned the title of Labour Hero in the Renewal Process, the Labour Order, and Certificates of Merit from the Prime Minister.

Deputy PM Nhan took this occasion to praise the sector’s contributions to boosting the country’s socio-economic development and called on it to promote more emulation movements in the 2011-2015 period.

Source: VOV

Source: QDND

India holds top-level meeting on BlackBerry security fears

In Uncategorized on August 12, 2010 at 11:23 am

NEW DELHI, Aug 12, 2010 (AFP) – India’s home ministry held top-level talks with intelligence services Thursday to discuss suspending BlackBerry services if the smartphone’s makers do not satisfy security concerns.

India is one of several emerging-market countries which have asked BlackBerry’s Canadian manufacturers to allow scrutiny of encrypted email and instant message traffic.

“This is an internal meeting and it will address BlackBerry and other telecom issues relating to security,” a senior home ministry official who declined to be named told AFP.

The row with BlackBerry, which has one million customers in India, comes as the country ramps up security ahead of the Commonwealth Games in October.

The meeting in New Delhi follows Saudi Arabia postponing a BlackBerry ban after a deadline passed for finding a solution allowing authorities to monitor encrypted messages.

Home Ministry officials have said India could press for its own deadline for Research in Motion (RIM), the manufacturers of the smartphone, to allow access to encrypted data transmitted via the handset.

The Indian government has warned it will allow India’s telecom operators to offer only services which can be intercepted by the security agencies.

The ministry official told AFP that only security agencies and state-run telecom operator BSNL would attend the meeting, which was chaired by Home Secretary G.K. Pillai.

RIM was not at the meeting, he said, declining to elaborate.

BSNL, government-run MTNL and a host of private telecom providers like Airtel and Vodafone offer BlackBerry services and have the legal responsibility in India to ensure security agencies can access all services.

Any suspension would likely leave BlackBerry users with only the ability to telephone and browse the Internet.

India is the world’s fastest-expanding cellular market and also one of RIM’s key growth targets.

RIM did not immediately respond to emails or phone calls from AFP.

India, battling insurgencies from Muslim-majority Kashmir in the northwest to the far-flung northeast, is sensitive about the potential risks of new technology and has raised fears BlackBerry services could be used by militants to communicate.

In Saudi Arabia the telecoms watchdog this week announced BlackBerry messenger services would remain online, as it reported “positive developments” in efforts to find a solution.

The United Arab Emirates has said that it will ban BlackBerry messenger, email and web browsing from October 11 for security reasons.

BlackBerry is not the only company to feel heat from the Indian government.

The government has been restricting imports from Chinese telecom manufacturers because of intelligence agency fears “spyware” could be embedded in the equipment.

It has unveiled tough new rules for telecom operators and equipment sellers to tackle security issues, saying operators will have to take over equipment maintenance locally and will have to allow inspections.

Source: SGGP

S.Korea holds second day of major anti-submarine drill

In Uncategorized on August 6, 2010 at 7:20 am

SEOUL, Aug 6, 2010 (AFP) – A major South Korean naval exercise designed to strengthen defences went into a second day Friday.

The exercise is one of a series planned in coming months in response to what the South says was a North Korean torpedo attack on a warship.

This photo taken on August 5, 2010 shows South Korean Marines carrying inflatable boats during a military exercise in Baengnyeong Island near the disputed Yellow Sea border between the two Koreas. AFP

The South has mobilised 4,500 troops, backed by 29 ships and 50 aircraft, for its five-day drill in the Yellow Sea.

This week’s manoeuvres do not include US forces. Last week South Korea and the United States staged a massive joint naval and air drill in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) as a show of force.

Service personnel will practise attacks on intruding craft and defences against submarines on Friday, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said, along with a drill to repel attacks on coastline batteries and commando raids.

Pyongyang has angrily denied responsibility for the March sinking of the corvette near the disputed inter-Korean border in the Yellow Sea. The incident killed 46 sailors and sharply raised tensions.

The North Thursday termed this week’s drill a deliberate provocation and threatened “the most powerful” retaliation if the South triggers a conflict during the exercise.

“Our people and military will mercilessly crush the provokers and their stronghold with the most powerful war tactics and strike means beyond imagination if they ever dare to set a fire,” said a statement from a state body called the Committee for Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland.

But as of Friday morning no unusual movements by the North had been detected, a JCS spokesman told AFP.

A multinational investigation concluded in May that a North Korean submarine had torpedoed the warship.

Washington has announced new sanctions on the North to punish it for the alleged attack and to push it to scrap its nuclear weapons programme.

But the Obama administration on Thursday stopped short of putting Pyongyang back on a blacklist of countries supporting terrorism, despite pressure from lawmakers to do so.

Then-US president George W. Bush de-listed North Korea in 2008 after it vowed to end its nuclear programme, agreed to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency and pledged to disable its nuclear plants.

Source: SGGP

ASEAN holds talks with dialogue partners

In Uncategorized on July 23, 2010 at 3:17 am

A series of post ministerial conferences between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its 10 dialogue partners took place in Hanoi on July 22.

The dialogue partners include China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, the EU, the US and Canada.

South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan (R) listen to his aides as he arrives at the National Convention Center for ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Hanoi on July 22, 2010, which takes place from July 19 to 23. AFP photo

At these meetings, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers and their counterparts reviewed relationships in the past year and set forth ways and means to promote future cooperation.

The main agendas of the meetings included strengthening effective, substantive and comprehensive cooperation between ASEAN and its dialogue partners, from assistance to ASEAN in realizing its community-building goal and promoting connectivity to addressing the emerging challenges such as climate change, natural disasters, epidemics and maritime security.

The meetings also discussed preparations for the important related summits to be held at the end of this year and exchanged views on strengthening regional cooperation, including the possibility of wider participation and deeper engagement of dialogue partners in the process of shaping the regional architecture.

The dialogue partners reaffirmed their support for ASEAN’s central role in the region and shared the bloc’s common vision of a future regional architecture that will be multi-level, mutually-supportive, and being built upon existing mechanisms.

ASEAN welcomed Russia and the US’s expressed interest in engaging deeper with the evolving regional architecture, including the participation in the East Asia Summit (EAS) as members with appropriate arrangement and timing.

At the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference with China, the two sides agreed to hasten the drafting of a new Plan of Action to implement the Joint Declaration on ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity for the 2011-2015 period to be submitted to the 13th ASEAN-China Summit for adoption.

The two sides will realize the initiatives for bilateral cooperation, including infrastructure, energy and ICT as well as the use of China-assisted funds namely the China-ASEAN Investment Cooperation Fund worth 10 billion USD and the Credit Fund for Commercial Exchange of 15 billion USD.

They will continue enhancing cooperation for peace, stability and prosperity in the region, including cooperation within the framework of ASEAN+3, EAS, ARF and in implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).

They also agreed to recommend the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations throughout the year of 2011.

At the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference with Russia, the ministers welcomed good progress in implementing the ASEAN-Russia Comprehensive Programme of Action to promote cooperation for 2005-2015.

They discussed preparations for the 2nd ASEAN-Russia Summit that will be held later this year, including recommendation for a draft statement, convening of the Russia-ASEAN Business Forum and the ASEAN-Russia Cultural Cooperation Agreement.

They also discussed and agreed on specific activities in preparation for the commemoration of the 15th anniversary of ASEAN-Russia Dialogue Relations, including the holding of Days of Russian Culture in ASEAN member countries.

At the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference with the US, to further implement the decisions of the first ASEAN-US Leaders’ Meeting in 2009 and prepare for the second meeting in 2010, the two sides agreed to finalize a Plan of Action to implement the ASEAN-US Partnership for the new period of 2011-2015 and strengthen cooperation in areas of mutual interest, particularly economic, trade and investment cooperation, science and technology, education as well as in addressing emerging challenges like epidemics, energy security, disaster management and climate change

ASEAN welcomed the establishment of a US Mission to ASEAN in Jakarta .

ASEAN and the US agreed to work closely toward the convening of the 2nd ASEAN-US Leaders’ Meeting to be held later in the year.

At the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference with Japan, ASEAN welcomed Japan’s proposal to further promote the cooperation between ASEAN and Japan toward economic growth through enhancing ASEAN connectivity within the framework of “ASEAN-Japan Partnership for New Growth in Asia.”

Japan reaffirmed its continued support to ASEAN Community building efforts, including narrowing development gap through contribution to the ASEAN-Japan Integration Fund and offered to provide 800 million JPY assisting the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity.

ASEAN and Japan committed for the early entry into force and effective implementation of the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership (AJCEP).

At the ASEAN Post Ministerial Meeting with the Republic of Korea (RoK), the ministers agreed to work closely for the effective implementation of ASEAN-RoK FTA agreement with a view to increasing two-way trade volume to 150 billion USD by 2015.

ASEAN and the RoK agreed to submit the proposal to elevate the ASEAN-RoK Dialogue Relations to Strategic Partnership, and a draft Joint Declaration on ASEAN-RoK Strategic Partnership to the Leaders at the forthcoming ASEAN-RoK Summit in Hanoi later this year.

ASEAN expressed its appreciation to the RoK for inviting Vietnam, as the Chair of ASEAN, to attend the G-20 Summit in Seoul this November. On this occasion, ASEAN extended deep sympathy and condolences to the Government and people of the RoK for the loss of lives resulting from the sinking of the Cheonan ship and called on all parties concerned to exercise utmost self-restraint and resolve all differences by peaceful means.

At the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference with India, the two sides adopted the Plan of Action to implement the ASEAN-India Partnership for Peace, Progress and Prosperity for 2010-2015 and agreed to strengthen cooperation in trade-economics, science and technology, ICT and environment as well as in response to challenges like terrorism, transnational crimes.

The ministers tasked their officials to initiate projects to be sponsored under the ASEAN-India Green Fund and the ASEAN-India Science and Technology Development Fund.

The two sides discussed preparations for the 20th Anniversary of the ASEAN-India Dialogue Relationship in 2012.

At ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference with Australia, t he two sides emphasized the significance and importance of effectively implementing the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA (AANZFTA) which entered into force early this year.

They agreed to accelerate the implementation of the Plan of Action to realize the ASEAN-Australia Enhanced Partnership with focus on areas of education, trade and investment, transport, sustainable use of resources, disaster management, culture and people-to-people exchange.

ASEAN and Australia agreed to convene an ASEAN-Australia Summit on the sideline of the 17th ASEAN Summit in the second half of 2010 to give strong impetus to the dialogue relations.

At the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference with New Zealand, the ministers adopted the ASEAN-New Zealand Joint Declaration on Enhanced Partnership for 2010-2015, focusing on cooperation in education, culture and people-to-people exchange.

ASEAN welcomed New Zealand’s new proposals for cooperation, including a 54 million USD support for ASEAN students to be trained in New Zealand in the next 3 years.

The two sides appreciated the significance and importance of effectively carrying out the AANZFTA.
They also agreed to convene the ASEAN-New Zealand Commemorative Summit back-to-back with the 17th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi.

At the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference with Canada, t he ministers adopted the Plan of Action to implement the Declaration on ASEAN-Canada Enhanced Partnership for 2011-2015 and agreed to work toward an ASEAN-Canada Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) to enhance trade and investment relations.

ASEAN welcomed Canada’s signing of the Instrument of Accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC), which marks another significant progress in the dialogue relationship as well as Canada’s commitment to peace, stability and cooperation in the region.

At the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference with the EU, the two sides agreed to promote the implementation of programmes and activities to realize the ASEAN-EU Enhanced Partnership, especially boosting region-to-region economic cooperation.

ASEAN appreciated the EU’s determination to accede to the TAC in Southeast Asia and informed the EU of the signing of the 3 rd Protocol amending the TAC to be held on July 23 which would pave the way for the EU’s accession to the TAC at an early stage.

Source: Vietnam News Agency

South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan (R) listen to his aides as he arrives at the National Convention Center for ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Hanoi on July 22, 2010, which takes place from July 19 to 23.

Source: SGGP

City holds photo exhibition highlighting Hanoi’s fine art heritage

In Uncategorized on July 22, 2010 at 11:19 am

More than 100 photos of fine art, ancient architecture and sculptures of Thang Long – Hanoi are being displayed at Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum.

              A photo of stone-statues of the Lion

The pictures illustrated the beauty of the Mot Cot pagoda, built in 1049 during the Ly Dynasty; the Kim Lien pagoda, stone-statues of the Lion of the Ly Dynasty; many Buddhist statues and others.

The exhibition details just a part of the capital’s a huge art heritage, with nearly 1,500 temples and pagodas, more than 25,000 statues, sculptures and other ancient objects.

The display was co-organized by the HCMC Fine Arts Museum and Vietnam Fine Arts University to mark the 85th anniversary of the founding of the university and Grand Celebration of the 1000th birthday of the capital. It will run through July 30.

Source: SGGP