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Biden says US may stay in Afghanistan after 2014

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2011 at 7:06 am

KABUL (AFP) – US Vice President Joe Biden stressed Tuesday that his country’s troops could stay in Afghanistan after 2014 if Afghans want them to, on day two of a surprise visit to the war-torn nation.


Speaking after talks with President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, Biden said: “We’re not leaving if you (Afghans) don’t want us to leave”.


But he also emphasised that the planned handover of responsibility for security from international troops to Afghan forces in four years, agreed at a NATO summit in November, was on track.

AFP file – US Vice President Joe Biden (C) talks with a US soldier as US General David Petraeus (2nd L) looks on at a US base in Maidan Shar Wardak province.


“It’s not our intention to govern or to nation-build — as President Karzai often points out, this is the responsibility of the Afghan people,” Biden told reporters at a press conference.


“We stand ready to help you in that effort and we’ll continue to stand ready to help you in that effort after 2014.”


A senior White House official said Biden was not announcing a change in policy.


“The vice president was simply restating for the public what he had said to the president (Karzai) which was that the United States wants an enduring partnership with Afghanistan,” the official said.


There are about 97,000 United States troops serving in Afghanistan as part of an international force of some 140,000.


Limited, conditions-based withdrawals are due to start in July ahead of the scheduled 2014 transition.


In 2010, coalition troops suffered their bloodiest year yet in Afghanistan with 711 deaths, according to the icasualties.org website, while opinion polls suggest increasing numbers of Americans want their troops to come home.


Biden said Afghanistan was now in a “new phase” and insisted that Taliban momentum had been “largely arrested” in key areas such as the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar.


His comments came despite several recent attacks in the south, seen as the focus of the war, including a suicide bombing at a bath house in Kandahar province last week which killed 17 people.


“We have a strategy and the resources in place to accomplish the goal of a stable and a growing and an independent Afghanistan able to provide for its own security,” Biden said.


But he added that gains made were “fragile and reversible and the president knows that sustaining them is going to require the Afghans to improve… security and governance”.


Karzai said he and Biden had held one-to-one talks that lasted one hour and 45 minutes.


“We discussed the transition process in 2014 and how best to proceed with it. We had a good discussion, it made me happy,” Karzai told the press conference, which came a day after Biden’s surprise arrival in Afghanistan.


Biden held talks and had lunch with Karzai after visiting a training facility for Afghan security forces just outside Kabul. He later met US troops serving in Wardak province, central Afghanistan, plus local officials.


Shortly after arriving late Monday, Biden spent nearly two hours with the commander of international troops in Afghanistan, US General David Petraeus, and US ambassador Karl Eikenberry.


A US official travelling with Biden said the vice president’s trip came at a “pivot point” for the US in Afghanistan, adding it would allow Biden to review progress towards handing responsibility for security to Afghan forces.


The complex relations between the Western-backed government in Kabul and the US were laid bare by recent comments by Karzai accusing foreign countries of meddling in Afghanistan.


And last month, whistleblowing website WikiLeaks published leaked cables in which Eikenberry described Karzai as sometimes “paranoid and weak”.


The ambassador also reportedly highlighted corruption among key government officials in Afghanistan.


The visit, Biden’s first to Afghanistan since taking office, was not pre-announced due to security concerns, although Karzai was informed of the trip last week, the US official told reporters.


Biden’s trip began four days after the US announced it was sending an extra 1,400 Marines to southern Afghanistan, seen as the heart of the Taliban insurgency, in a bid to pre-empt an expected spring offensive in April or May.

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Source: SGGP

National Assembly elections scheduled for May 22

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:08 am




National Assembly elections scheduled for May 22


QĐND – Friday, January 07, 2011, 21:29 (GMT+7)

The election of the 13th National Assembly and for People’s Councils at all levels for the 2011-16 term will be held on May 22 of this year.


A majority of members of the National Assembly Standing Committee approved the date at a session of the NA Standing Committee in Hanoi on Jan. 6.


As planned, the NA Standing Committee will promulgate a resolution of the date for the national polls on January 21.


The NA Standing Committee also agreed on the establishment of an election council, which will comprise 21 people including the NA chairman who will be the council president. It will also include deputy chairmen from the Office of the President, the Government Office, the National Assembly, committees, organisations and central associations.


NA Chairman Nguyen Phu Trong, who chaired the session, asked relevant offices to implement tasks necessary to ensuring the process runs as scheduled.


Source: VNA


Source: QDND

North Korea may have new atom test to boost heir: South

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 6:26 am

 North Korea could conduct a third atomic test next year to boost the credentials of its leader-in-waiting, while prospects for bilateral talks with Seoul are slim, a South Korean foreign ministry report said on Friday.


The regular report from a ministry research institute was published a day after Pyongyang vowed a nuclear “sacred war” after the South vowed to be “merciless” if attacked, and held a major military drill near the border.

A North Korean Scud-B missile (C) and South Korean Hawk surface-to-air missiles are seen at the Korean War Memorial Museum in Seoul, December 24, 2010.

The North, which carried out nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, has yet to show it has a deliverable weapon as part of its plutonium arms program, but a third test would raise tensions further on the divided peninsula and rattle global markets.


Nuclear experts have also said they expect a third test soon, while South Korean media reported earlier this month that the North was digging a tunnel in preparation for one.


“There is a possibility of North Korea carrying out its third nuclear test to seek improvement in its nuclear weapons production capability, keep the military tension high and promote Kim Jong-un’s status as the next leader,” the report said, referring to Kim Jong-il’s youngest son.


“Tension between the two Koreas will remain high with chances of additional North Korean attacks on the South staying high. Chances of a summit meeting between leaders of the two sides look slim,” the institute said, according to a summary of the report.


The analysis for 2011 was written by the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security, run by the Foreign Ministry.


BOASTING TACTIC


Hostilities have escalated to their worst levels since the Korean war in the early 1950s, after a deadly naval clash in March and the North’s shelling of a South Korean island last month.


Still, the risk of an all-out war is low, and the North’s threats of destruction are largely rhetorical.


The North’s tactic of boasting about nuclear advances is a ploy aimed at restarting talks between itself, the South, China, Japan, Russia and the United States, from which it hopes to wring concessions, analysts say.


“Some form of meeting between six-party members could be held during 2011 to discuss North Korea’s uranium enrichment, but chances are very low for any meaningful progress being achieved,” the institute said.


Those involved in the six-party process say they want to resume it, but among them are widely differing starting points.


China, the North’s only major ally and vital financial backer, sees the forum as the best place to begin dialogue, but Seoul, Washington and Tokyo say they first need proof that Pyongyang is committed to dismantling its nuclear work.


“North Korea has displayed national strength and diplomatic skills that exceed its actual capacity. Kim Jong’s mental strength must be exhausted, and it is about time that China loses its patience,” Seoul’s Joongang Daily said in a commentary.


“The time has come for Seoul to strategically manipulate the North Korea-China alliance to encourage estrangement.”

Source: SGGP

Hyundai Motor may win bidder status for construction firm

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 4:33 am

SEOUL, Dec 22, 2010 (AFP) – South Korea’s Hyundai Motor will likely be named preferred bidder for the country’s largest builder, a major shareholder of the builder said Wednesday, after rival Hyundai Group was pushed out of the race.


Nine creditors with a combined 34.88 percent stake in Hyundai Engineering and Construction will vote at an unspecified date on whether to name Hyundai Motor preferred bidder, Ryu Jae-Han, head of state-run Korea Finance Corp, told Dow Jones Newswires.


On Monday creditors walked away from an initial deal to sell their stake to the Hyundai Group, saying it did not give them enough information about how it would finance the reported 5.51 trillion won (4.9 billion dollar) cost.


When asked whether Hyundai Motor, which lost the preliminary deal in November, would be chosen as preferred bidder this time, Ryu said he “can’t deny” the possibility.


“I can’t deny that the current atmosphere makes it seem that way, but that’s something that the creditors need to vote on. We’ll have to see how the process plays out,” Dow Jones quoted Ryu as saying.


If the deal goes through Hyundai Motor would become the construction company’s biggest shareholder.


The takeover battle is part of a family feud over the former Hyundai empire, which was split into separate units after the death of its billionaire founder Chung Ju-Yung in 2001.


Hyundai Motor, headed by the founder’s second son Chung Mong-Koo, was hived off almost a decade ago as a separate entity. With affiliate Kia Motors, it is now the world’s fifth largest carmaker.


The construction firm came under creditor control in a debt-for-equity swap in 2001 amid lingering fallout from the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis.


The Hyundai Group — which includes a shipping firm, a brokerage, a tour company that operates projects in North Korea and an elevator maker — initially outbid Hyundai Motor for the construction firm.


The group’s chairwoman Hyun Jeong-Eun is the founder Chung’s daughter-in-law.


But creditors said Hyundai Group failed to submit detailed information about its financing of the acquisition, particularly a 1.2 trillion won loan obtained from French bank Natixis.

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Source: SGGP

Change direction of tropical depression may cause downpours in central region

In Uncategorized on November 14, 2010 at 9:25 am

‘Naked’ airport scanners may be ‘dangerous’

In Uncategorized on November 13, 2010 at 9:53 am

Obama’s India Trip: What U.S. May Get in Return

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2010 at 6:51 am

‘French troops may begin Afghan withdrawal in 2011’

In Uncategorized on October 28, 2010 at 7:40 am

French and some allied NATO armies could begin to withdraw some of their forces from the conflict in Afghanistan as early as 2011, Defence Minister Herve Morin said Thursday.

French soldiers patrol in Surobi district in September 2010.

“There’s a fixed date for NATO in the framework of its new strategy, that’s the start of 2011, because in 2011 we’re going to transfer a whole series of districts to the Afghans,” he told RTL radio.


“At that moment, there could be the first movements, or first withdrawals of Allied forces from Afghanistan. In any case, that’s the calendar set by Barack Obama, that in 2011 the first American troops could quit Afghanistan.


“And that’s what a certain number of European countries have started to say,” he explained, insisting that this has nothing to do with a threat issued against France on Thursday by Islamist militant chief Osama bin Laden.

Source: SGGP

AIA may raise up to 20 billion dollars in IPO

In Uncategorized on October 17, 2010 at 10:24 am

AIA Group Ltd said Sunday it could raise up to 20 billion US dollars in a global public offering, putting it on track to be the world’s second biggest IPO this year.


Announcing details of the sale at a press conference in Hong Kong, the Asian unit of US insurer AIG said it said it will offer 5.86 billion shares priced at between 18.38-19.68 Hong Kong dollars each, or up to 15 billion US dollars.


It said it could issue up to 8.08 billion shares if it exercised a greenshoe option, which would bring the total raised to around 20 billion US dollars.


AIG, which is looking to repay US taxpayers after a government bailout in 2008, won approval last month for the sale of its Asian unit and is planning to float about half of AIA.

AIA Group Ltd said Sunday it will offer at least 5.86 billion shares priced at between 18.38-19.68 Hong Kong dollars each in a global public offering

“This IPO serves as a great catalyst for the next and exciting phase in the AIA’s history,” Mark Tucker, group executive chairman and chief executive officer, said via a live video feed from the United States.


Earlier this year, Agricultural Bank of China raised a total of 22.1 billion dollars from an IPO, exceeding the previous record set by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which raised 21.9 billion dollars in 2006.


Shares will be offered from Monday October 18 to October 21, with trading expected to begin on October 29.


AIA said that as of May 31, it had total assets of 95.7 billion US dollars and an operating profit of 1.1 million US dollars.


The company believes its consolidated operating profit for the fiscal year ending November 30 will not be less than 2 billion US dollars.

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Source: SGGP

Exports may grow 20 percent this year, experts say

In Uncategorized on October 13, 2010 at 7:52 am

Based on the export performance in January-July and the number of contracts recently signed with foreign partners, the country may achieve an export growth of up to 18-20 percent this year, twice the target set by the National Assembly, experts said.


The textile and garment sector may achieve an export growth of 18-20 percent, while the footwear industry may see its export turnover increase by 15-16 percent this year, Diep Thanh Kiet, vice chairman of the Association of Garments, Textiles, Embroidery and Knitwear forecast.


Businesses in the woodwork processing sector have accelerated their efforts to fulfill orders from foreign partners, in order to meet the sector’s export target of US$3 billion this year.

Artisans make art handicraft products for export at Quan Quan Co.

In the first seven months of the year, the prices of many export commodities increased, especially those of crude oil, coal, rubber, rice, tea, pepper and cashew.


Export markets also expanded in the period, with exports to countries in Asia, the US and Europe increasing by 48 percent, 23 percent and 15 percent respectively.


The period saw 11 export items achieve an export turnover of over US$1 billion each, including textiles and garment, crude oil, footwear, seafood, rice, coffee, steel and iron, woodworks, machinery and equipment, computers and parts thereof, and precious stones and metals.


In the last quarter of this year, exports are likely to increase sharply and the prices of some key export items may continue rising, according to the Minsitry of Industry and Trade.


Challenges
 
Many textile and garment companies are facing a shortage of workers, finding it hard to fulfill orders they have received from foreign importers, Mr. Kiet said.


Lacking workers together with an increase in prices of imported materials have diminished profit in many woodworks exporters, experts said, adding that some businesses have planed to set up bonded warehouses in foreign countries to accelerate exports and cut down expenses.


Meanwhile, exporters of seafood and farm produce are facing a shortage of both workers and materials.


In addition, possible anti-dumping actions by foreign companies is also one of the biggest chellenges to domestic businesses in some industries. Therefore, the Competitiveness Management Department has set up an early alert system that monitors developments in key markets to minimize the risk of anti-dumping actions agaisnt domestic businesses.


To help exporters boost growth, the State should assist them in expanding export outlets and obtaining more capital for business purposes. In addtion, the product price and market forecasts should also been stregnthened to assist exporters in preparing export plans effectively.

Source: SGGP