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Posts Tagged ‘ministers’

EU finance ministers to meet on Irish aid plan Sunday

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2010 at 1:51 pm

European Union finance ministers are to meet in Brussels on Sunday to discuss the EU aid plan for debt-ravaged Ireland, a French source said Saturday.


The source familiar with the issue said French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde had called for a meeting of her colleagues from eurozone countries, to be joined afterwards by ministers from the rest of the EU.


Originally it had been planned for them to communicate simply by telephone to approve the package worth 85 billion euros (113 billion dollars) and its conditions, the source added.


 

Source: SGGP

Foreign ministers of China, Russia consult on N.Korea

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2010 at 1:51 pm

The foreign ministers of Russia and China held telephone consultations Saturday over ways to ease the surging tensions on the Korean peninsula, the Russian foreign ministry said.


Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi “underscored the need to prevent a further escalation in the situation and to work toward conditions that can ease the tensions in the two Koreas’ relations and resume the six-party talks,” the ministry said in a statement.


Both countries are involved in the six-nation negotiations on the North Korean crisis, although Moscow’s close contacts with Pyongyang have waned considerably since the Soviet era.



 

Source: SGGP

Currency war threat looms over G20 ministers’ meeting

In Uncategorized on October 20, 2010 at 4:07 am

SEOUL, Oct 20, 2010 (AFP) – G20 finance ministers will meet in South Korea this week to try to chart a new direction for the world’s economy after a devastating downturn, but fears of a “currency war” could blow them off course.


The host nation dislikes the phrase — Finance Minister Yoon Jeung-Hyun has said the exchange rate issue is not “like a duel in a Western film”.


But South Korea admits the disputes will loom large over the October 22-23 meeting of ministers and central bank chiefs in the southeastern city of Gyeongju.


Ministers will set the agenda for the November 11-12 Group of 20 summit in Seoul, South Korea’s biggest international event for two decades.

AFP – This file photo taken on May 26, 2010 shows an Australian 100 dollar note (C) amidst a raft of foreign currencies.

Seoul wants to leave its mark on history with a “Korea Initiative” to set up a global financial safety net aimed at protecting emerging markets from disruptions caused by sudden changes in capital flows.


The nation, which built its economic “Miracle on the Han River” on the ashes of the Korean War, also intends to put development prominently on the G20 summit agenda for the first time.


And it wants to push ahead with reforms to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to give emerging countries greater voting power, while encouraging the adoption of post-crisis rules to bolster the world’s banks.


“South Korea… will stress that a currency war is tantamount to mutual economic destruction and push for a compromise,” an organiser told Yonhap news agency on condition of anonymity.


The United States and European Union, trying to export their way to economic health amid lacklustre domestic demand, accuse China of significantly undervaluing the yuan to boost its own exports.


China says it is being made a scapegoat for US domestic problems.


And it points out that expectations of US “quantitative easing”, a move to pump more dollars into the market, are swamping emerging markets with destabilising capital inflows as investors chase higher yields.


The United States last Friday signalled a temporary truce, delaying publication until after the Seoul summit of a report that could have labelled China a currency “manipulator”.


There is a chance that “some sort of understanding” may be reached in Gyeongju, the Seoul official said, after weekend talks overseen by the United Nations raised the need for deeper global governance to tackle common problems.


Yoon Deok-Ryong, of the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy, said it would be hard to reach a firm agreement on forex issues at the South Korea meetings.


“However, an understanding may be reached by countries to abstain from measures that can worsen the situation until the next G20 summit planned for 2011 in France,” Yoon said.


The stakes are high, according to IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.


“The spirit of cooperation must be maintained. Without that, the recovery is in peril,” he told a meeting in Shanghai Monday.


South Korea says the G20 pulled the world back from a 1930s-style Great Depression but must now show it can cooperate in a post-crisis era.


Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in comments to Wednesday’s Financial Times, expressed fears about the group’s fraying cohesion — a concern echoed by Bank of England governor Mervyn King.


King called Tuesday for a “grand bargain” among the world’s major economies, saying forex tensions could spark trade protectionism.


“That could, as it did in the 1930s, lead to a disastrous collapse in activity around the world,” he said in a speech.


Ministers will discuss the state of the world economy, IMF reform and establishment of a financial safety net, the G20 framework for “strong, sustainable and balanced growth”, and regulatory reform among other issues.


The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision met Tuesday in Seoul to finalise reforms requiring global banks to bolster their reserves.


“The capital requirement, combined with a global liquidity framework, will substantially reduce the possibility of a banking crisis in the future,” said its chairman Nout Willink.


The Financial Stability Board created by the G20 was meeting in Seoul Wednesday. It was expected to agree a broad plan to strengthen regulation and supervision of banks and other financial companies seen as “too big to fail”.

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Source: SGGP

Britons trust ministers on cuts, expect unfairness

In Uncategorized on October 17, 2010 at 10:25 am

Almost half of Britons think that major cuts in public spending due to be unveiled this week will be unfair but they trust ministers more than the opposition to fix the economy, a poll revealed Sunday.


Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition government is due to unveil plans on Wednesday to cut 83 billion pounds (130 billion dollars, 95 billion euros) in government expenditure by 2014-15 to help pay off a record deficit.


A ComRes poll for the Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror newspapers revealed that despite Cameron’s vow that the cuts would be fairly distributed, just 30 percent expected them to be “fair” and 43 percent did not.


However, 45 percent of respondents said they trusted Cameron and his finance minister George Osborne to steer the economy out of recession, compared to 23 percent who trusted opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband and his team.

A man walks past the Bank of England. Almost half of Britons think that major cuts in public spending due to be unveiled this week will be unfair but they trust ministers more than the opposition to fix the economy, a poll revealed Sunday

Details of where the axe will fall in Wednesday’s spending review began to emerge this weekend, with some ministries set to suffer far more than others.


The health and international aid budgets are exempt from the cuts, and reports suggest the defence ministry will have to reduce spending by about eight percent — a tough job but one that could have been much worse.


By contrast, one newspaper report suggested the justice ministry would have to close more than 150 courts and send fewer peope to jail as it struggles to find savings of 30 percent.


Major cuts to the welfare budget are also expected, but the ComRes poll suggests people do not accept Cameron’s promise to protect the most vulnerable.


Some 56 percent believed the welfare changes would hit the elderly and the poorest in society, compared to 28 percent who said they would not.


Although Osborne says the cuts are “unavoidable”, there is little stomach for the inevitable job cuts — 600,000 over the next six years, according to government estimates.


Just 30 percent believed sacking thousands of people was a price worth paying to balance the books, compared to 47 percent who disagreed.


Instead, there was support for increasing taxes to pay off the deficit — 54 percent thought the top 50 percent rate of income tax should be increased to 60 percent.


ComRes interviewed 2,009 adults between Wednesday and Friday.

Source: SGGP

New British government rocked by minister’s resignation

In Uncategorized on May 30, 2010 at 5:16 am

The Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London are seen May 7, 2010. AFP photo

LONDON, May 30, 2010 (AFP) – Britain’s new coalition government suffered a blow Saturday when a high-profile finance minister, David Laws, resigned after just 18 days in the job following revelations over his expenses claims.


Laws stepped down as Chief Secretary to the Treasury after the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported he had channelled more than 40,000 pounds (57,800 dollars, 47,100 euros) of taxpayers’ money in rent to his long-term boyfriend.


“I do not see how I can carry out my crucial work on the budget and spending review while I have to deal with the private and public implications of recent revelations,” Laws said in a brief statement to journalists.


The millionaire former banker, a member of the Liberal Democrat junior coalition partners, said he had not disclosed the financial arrangement because of “my desire to keep my sexuality secret”.


“I cannot now escape the conclusion that what I have done was in some way wrong even though I did not gain any financial benefit from keeping my relationship secret,” he said.


In a letter accepting the resignation, Prime Minister David Cameron described Laws as a “good and honourable man” and said he believed he had been motivated “by wanting to protect your privacy rather than anything else”.


Cameron said he hoped Laws could return to the government one day as he had “a huge amount to offer our country”.


Laws’ role made him deputy to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, of the Conservative party, at the Treasury.


His successor will be another Liberal Democrat, Danny Alexander, who was formerly the minister responsible for Scotland, Downing Street said.


Osborne expressed regret at the departure of his short-lived colleague, saying: “It was as if he had been put on earth to do the job that was asked of him.”


The Telegraph claimed that 44-year-old Laws claimed up to 950 pounds a month for five years to rent a room in two properties owned by his partner James Lundie, a lobbyist.


In a statement Friday immediately following the revelations, Laws claimed he did not consider himself to be in breach of the rules on expenses as he and Lundie had separate bank accounts and separate social lives.


Laws held one of the highest-profile roles in a government that has made reducing Britain’s record 2009-2010 deficit of 156.1 billion pounds a priority.


He and Osborne this week unveiled spending cuts worth 6.25 billion pounds.


Although Laws had apologised for claiming the money and referred himself to the parliamentary expenses watchdog, he decided that his role in a department charged with slashing public spending had been fatally compromised.


Cameron has pledged to clean up politics after last year’s expenses scandal, in which lawmakers were shown to have filed expenses claims for everything from porn films to ornamental duck houses.


Britain’s first coalition government since World War II emerged from the inconclusive May 6 general election.


The Conservative-Liberal Democrat government ousted Gordon Brown’s Labour administration.

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Source: SGGP

EU, ASEAN foreign ministers talk cooperation

In Uncategorized on May 27, 2010 at 5:13 pm

British ministers on Afghan visit want troops out

In Uncategorized on May 23, 2010 at 9:18 am

Britain will not set a deadline for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, the foreign minister said Saturday, after arriving in Kabul with a warning that the British government wanted to pull out as soon as possible.


William Hague, along with Defence Secretary Liam Fox and International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell met President Hamid Karzai on their first visit to the country since the new coalition government took power in London this month.


They had made clear to Karzai that Britain expected to see his government make progress to match the international strategy for ending Afghanistan’s long insurgency, he said.


“We are urgently taking stock of the situation, but in the sense not of deciding whether to support that strategy but of how to support that strategy in the coming months and years,” he told reporters.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague addresses a press conference at The British Embassy in Kabul. Senior British cabinet ministers arrived in Afghanistan Saturday with a warning that Britain wants to withdraw its troops as soon as possible

“There isn’t going to be an arbitrary or artificial timetable. We have to give the strategy that has been set out the time and support to succeed (and) that does need and require Britain’s continued military involvement.”


Britain has 10,000 troops in Afghanistan, the second biggest commitment behind the US in a force of 130,000 fighting the Taliban insurgency under NATO command.


The number of foreign troops is set to rise to 150,000 by August as part of a US-led counter-insurgency strategy aimed at speeding the end of the war now well into its ninth year.


The ministerial visit coincided with the death of a Royal Marine in southern Afghanistan on Friday, bringing to 286 the number of British soldiers killed in the country since 2001.


It also came as The Times newspaper published an interview with Fox, in which he said the visit would focus on speeding up the withdrawal of British forces, and that no new troops would be deployed.


“We need to accept we are at the limit of numbers now and I would like the forces to come back as soon as possible,” he was quoted as saying.


Speaking to reporters in Kabul, Fox said the answer to the question of whether Britain needs to be in Afghanistan was “an unequivocal yes”.


“We are here primarily for reasons of our own national security. We don’t want to see instability in Afghanistan, which could again become a failed state, which is a safe haven for terror groups which could launch attacks internationally,” he said.


“We have the resolve to see through this situation to ensure we get to a security position where the Afghan security forces can manage their own internal and external security


“We don’t wish to be here any longer than we have to, to achieve that situation,” he said.


Karzai has pledged that Afghan security forces will be able to take responsibility for the country’s security by 2014, with the help of his Western backers in bankrolling and training the police and army.


Hague said bilateral discussions had focussed on ensuring this commitment is met.


London also supported Karzai’s plans for a “peace jirga,” or conference, set for May 29 on ending the war and possibly holding peace talks with the Taliban.


Hague said the jirga, along with an international conference slated for late July and parliamentary election due in September were milestones for gauging Afghanistan’s commitment to standing alone.

“Our objective is to reach a situation where Afghans are able to look after their own security and their own affairs without any danger being presented to the rest of the world from this country,” he said.

“It is not possible to say when we will reach that objective but it is possible to hope that we will see some serious political progress through the peace jirga, the Kabul conference and the parliamentary elections during the course of this year.”

The importance of Afghanistan to Britain was underscored last Saturday when Karzai became the first foreign leader to meet Prime Minister David Cameron.

Britain’s Conservative-Liberal Democrat government has said it wants to cut the defence budget by at least 25 percent but has pledged to support the forces in Afghanistan.

In the Times interview, Fox said British troops stationed in southern Helmand province would not relocate to neighbouring Kandahar, where the US is leading what they hope will be a final fight to eradicate the Taliban.

NATO announced Friday that about 8,000 British troops in Helmand are to come under US operational control, as part of a restructuring of NATO forces in the south, the Taliban heartland where fighting is fiercest.

Source: SGGP

NATO ministers meet on Afghan trainers, nuclear policy

In Uncategorized on April 22, 2010 at 8:14 am

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Estonia Thursday for talks with her NATO counterparts about the alliance’s role in nuclear defence and ways to drum up more trainers for the Afghan army.


The gathering in the Estonian capital Tallinn, starting at 1030 GMT, will first focus on plans to reform NATO to deal with modern security threats, followed by a working dinner on nuclear and missile defence policy.


The United States “wants to see a more efficient and streamlined alliance,” which has grown rapidly to 28 members, a senior State Department official told reporters traveling with Clinton.


The official also said on condition of anonymity that Clinton, at the dinner with her counterparts, would build on US-sponsored efforts to reduce nuclear arms as well as tackle “the question of non-strategic nuclear weapons in NATO.”


He did not elaborate.


But Germany, Belgium and several other countries appear intent on calling for the United States to remove its tactical nuclear weapons, something Washington is reluctant to do without Russia cutting its tactical arsenal.


There are no official figures published but there are thought to be some 240 US nuclear weapons scattered around Europe in five NATO nations; Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.


Another senior US official said earlier it would be NATO’s first real talks on nuclear policy since the early 1990s.


“Our principle, and most important guide-post for moving into this discussion is that we don’t want to divide the alliance on this issue,” he said.


The ministers will also mull whether to grant Bosnia-Hercegovina membership action plan (MAP) status, the penultimate step to joining the 28-nation North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Officials suggest this is unlikely to happen.


The senior US official praised Bosnia for taking positive steps toward gaining MAP status by its deploying 100 troops to Afghanistan and agreeing to dispose of surplus ammunition and weapons.


Friday’s morning session will include talks about cooperation with Russia — although no Russian officials are due to attend — and talks among NATO nations and partners fighting the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and their backers in Afghanistan.


Clinton is scheduled to have talks with Zalmai Rassoul, the new Afghan foreign minister.


Ahead of the meeting, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged the allies to help find 450 new trainers to help build up the Afghan army and police to take responsibility for national security on their own.


“For transition to take place, we need Afghan forces to play their part. Which means we need trainers,” he told reporters in Brussels.


“We are still short about 450 trainers. It’s a relatively small number. But those trainers have a big effect,” he said, and urged the ministers “to see what they can do to free up these mission-critical resources.”


Rasmussen said the ministers would also seek to agree “on the principles and decision-making framework” for security duties to be handed from NATO and US-led forces to the Afghans.


NATO leads a force of some 90,000 troops drawn from more than 40 nations and whose aim is to restore stability and democracy to Afghanistan in the face of a virulent insurgency.

Source: SGGP

Thai ministers airlifted as protesters storm parliament

In Uncategorized on April 7, 2010 at 9:41 am

Military helicopters airlifted government ministers from Thailand‘s parliament Wednesday after angry protesters stormed the building in a dramatic escalation of their bid to topple the government.


Two Blackhawk helicopters landed under the guard of armed soldiers to rescue the deputy prime minister and other senior government figures after other lawmakers fled.


Red-shirted protesters, many of whom support fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, had forced their way into Thailand’s parliamentary compound, smashing through the gates with a truck.


“Our mission is completed,” Korkaew Pikulthong, one of the Red Shirt leaders, told the crowd after the politicians fled and the parliament session was cancelled.


When he learnt that the Reds were approaching, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva left a cabinet meeting there for a military barracks in the city’s northern outskirts, where he has been based for most of the weeks-long protest.

Red Shirt supporters of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra clash with riot-police during an anti-government protest at the parliament in Bangkok.

The cabinet extended a tough security law Wednesday as protesters refused to leave Bangkok‘s main commercial district, where they have been since Saturday.


The demonstrators are mostly from Thailand’s rural poor and working class and see Abhisit’s government as elitist and undemocratic.


Police said a grenade exploded shortly after midnight next to a supermarket in Bangkok, injuring one man, in the latest unexplained attack since the rallies began in mid-March.


Government spokesman Supachai Jaisamut said the authorities were ready to use emergency law if needed.


“If the situation deteriorates, it’s necessary for the government to invoke emergency rule,” he said.


Abhisit cancelled a planned trip to the United States for a nuclear security summit next week due to the unrest.


The Reds have been emboldened after the police and army backed down on Tuesday following a tense standoff in the capital’s tourist heartland.


The authorities have threatened the protesters with a year in jail but so far no arrests have been made.


Security forces have refrained from using force to disperse the tens of thousands of protesters, who have been roaming the capital, disrupting traffic and causing major shopping centres to shut.


The government said it would act if needed to end the protests, but reiterated that it wanted a peaceful resolution to the standoff.


The Reds say the government is illegitimate because it came to power with army backing through a parliamentary vote in December 2008 after a court decision ousted Thaksin’s allies from power.


The mainly poor and rural followers of Thaksin, a billionaire telecoms tycoon who lives abroad to avoid a jail term for corruption, fervently support the populist policies he introduced before his ouster in a 2006 coup.


Thaksin sought to rally his supporters on Wednesday in a brief message through the micro-blogging service Twitter, praising their “courage, patience and unity.”

On Tuesday protesters threw plastic bottles, pushed against police barricades and later took over the streets of central Bangkok on motorcycles and in pick-up trucks, pouring into the capital’s financial district.

The military has mounted a heavy security response, deploying 50,000 personnel at one point to try to contain the protests, which drew as many as 100,000 people on the first day on March 14.

But the government wants to avoid a repeat of last April’s clashes with Red Shirts that left two people dead, six months after riot police took on the rival Yellow Shirts in bloody scenes outside parliament.

Source: SGGP

Thai ministers airlifted as protesters storm parliament

In Uncategorized on April 7, 2010 at 9:41 am

Military helicopters airlifted government ministers from Thailand‘s parliament Wednesday after angry protesters stormed the building in a dramatic escalation of their bid to topple the government.


Two Blackhawk helicopters landed under the guard of armed soldiers to rescue the deputy prime minister and other senior government figures after other lawmakers fled.


Red-shirted protesters, many of whom support fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, had forced their way into Thailand’s parliamentary compound, smashing through the gates with a truck.


“Our mission is completed,” Korkaew Pikulthong, one of the Red Shirt leaders, told the crowd after the politicians fled and the parliament session was cancelled.


When he learnt that the Reds were approaching, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva left a cabinet meeting there for a military barracks in the city’s northern outskirts, where he has been based for most of the weeks-long protest.

Red Shirt supporters of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra clash with riot-police during an anti-government protest at the parliament in Bangkok.

The cabinet extended a tough security law Wednesday as protesters refused to leave Bangkok‘s main commercial district, where they have been since Saturday.


The demonstrators are mostly from Thailand’s rural poor and working class and see Abhisit’s government as elitist and undemocratic.


Police said a grenade exploded shortly after midnight next to a supermarket in Bangkok, injuring one man, in the latest unexplained attack since the rallies began in mid-March.


Government spokesman Supachai Jaisamut said the authorities were ready to use emergency law if needed.


“If the situation deteriorates, it’s necessary for the government to invoke emergency rule,” he said.


Abhisit cancelled a planned trip to the United States for a nuclear security summit next week due to the unrest.


The Reds have been emboldened after the police and army backed down on Tuesday following a tense standoff in the capital’s tourist heartland.


The authorities have threatened the protesters with a year in jail but so far no arrests have been made.


Security forces have refrained from using force to disperse the tens of thousands of protesters, who have been roaming the capital, disrupting traffic and causing major shopping centres to shut.


The government said it would act if needed to end the protests, but reiterated that it wanted a peaceful resolution to the standoff.


The Reds say the government is illegitimate because it came to power with army backing through a parliamentary vote in December 2008 after a court decision ousted Thaksin’s allies from power.


The mainly poor and rural followers of Thaksin, a billionaire telecoms tycoon who lives abroad to avoid a jail term for corruption, fervently support the populist policies he introduced before his ouster in a 2006 coup.


Thaksin sought to rally his supporters on Wednesday in a brief message through the micro-blogging service Twitter, praising their “courage, patience and unity.”

On Tuesday protesters threw plastic bottles, pushed against police barricades and later took over the streets of central Bangkok on motorcycles and in pick-up trucks, pouring into the capital’s financial district.

The military has mounted a heavy security response, deploying 50,000 personnel at one point to try to contain the protests, which drew as many as 100,000 people on the first day on March 14.

But the government wants to avoid a repeat of last April’s clashes with Red Shirts that left two people dead, six months after riot police took on the rival Yellow Shirts in bloody scenes outside parliament.

Source: SGGP