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Posts Tagged ‘security’

UN Security Council fails to reach accord on Korea crisis

In Uncategorized on December 20, 2010 at 6:27 am

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 19, 2010 (AFP) – The UN Security Council failed Sunday to agree a statement on the Korean military crisis and Russia warned that the international community was now left without “a game plan” to counter escalating tensions.

China rejected demands by Western nations that North Korea be publicly condemned for its November 23 attack on Yeonpyeong island which killed four South Koreans, diplomats said.

South Korean marines patrol on the South Korea-controlled island of Yeonpyeong near the disputed waters of the Yellow Sea on December 20, 2010. AFP

About eight hours of formal talks by the 15 nation council and private discussions, which brought in the North and South Korean ambassadors, ended without accord.

“We were not successful in bridging” differences between the parties, Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin told reporters.

He added that unofficial talks would continue, but Susan Rice, the US ambassador and Security Council president for December, said it was “safe to predict that the gaps that remain are unlikely to be bridged.”

She added that “the majority of council members made clear their view that it was important to condemn” the November 23 artillery attack and the sinking of a South Korean warship in March.

Rice called the incidents “unprovoked aggression” by North Korea on the South.

However China even rejected a version of Russia’s statement which did not mention North Korea or the Yeonpyeong name in a proposed paragraph on the November 23 attack, diplomats said.

Britain produced a rival draft statement which said the council “condemns the attack launched by the DPRK on the ROK on November 23.” The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is the official name of the North and the Republic of Korea is the South.

Churkin said Russia demanded the meeting on Saturday because of its “grave concern” about tensions between North and South Korea, a region right on Russia’s doorstep.

The South has vowed to go ahead with a live firing drill near Yeonpyeong. The North has threatened to retaliate.

Russia had wanted a call of “maximum restraint” to be sent to the two Koreas and for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to send a special envoy to negotiate with the rival states.

Churkin said the idea of a UN envoy had received “strong support” in the talks.

“I hope that this idea can still be pursued because now we have a situation with very serious political tension and no game plan on the diplomatic side,” said Churkin.

Six nation talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons have come to a standstill “and there is no other diplomatic activity, so we believe that there must be an initiative and this initiative of the secretary general appointing an envoy might be something which will set a political process in track,” Churkin said.

The foreign ministers of Russia and China have called on South Korea not to stage its military drills and this was reaffirmed by Churkin.

“We know that it is better to refrain from doing this exercise at this time,” he said.

South Korea has US backing however and Rice countered that it had a legitimate right to stage the exercises.

Source: SGGP

Egypt security on alert ahead of tense election

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Egyptian security forces were on high alert Saturday, on the eve of a general election, after activists clashed with police at the end of a campaign marred by violence and a crackdown on the opposition.

Egyptian protesters stand on a security fence under the watchfull eyes of the riot police during a demonstration organized by the Muslim Brotherhood in downtown Cairo, May 2010.

Thousands of activists demonstrated in support of their candidates throughout the Nile Delta and in the south of the country as campaigning for the vote came to an end on Friday night, said security officials.

Several of the rallies turned violent after supporters of rival candidates hurled stones at each other, they said.

Activists for the banned Muslim Brotherhood opposition group clashed with police in the southern Bani Suef governorate, and at least 15 protesters were arrested.

Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsud, a lawyer for the Islamist group, said 22 of its members were arrested on Friday across the country.

The Brotherhood is expected to win far less than the fifth of parliamentary seats it captured in the last election in 2005, after at least 1,200 its supporters were arrested in the weeks before the vote.

Most of them have been released, but the group says more of its supporters are rounded up each day as they put up posters and hand out fliers.

The Brotherhood is fielding 130 candidates for the 508 elected seats after more than a dozen of its candidates were disqualified by the election committee.

The public prosecutor is investigating complaints by the ruling National Democratic Party that more of the Islamists should be disqualified because they are misrepresenting themselves as independents.

The group registers its candidates as independents to circumvent a ban on religious parties.

Several administrative courts have ordered the cancellation of elections in 24 of 254 districts after court orders to reinstate disqualified candidates, many of them Brotherhood members and other independents, were ignored.

Rights groups say the election has already been compromised by the arrests of opposition members and campaign restrictions on their candidates.

Amnesty International called on Egyptian authorities to safeguard the rights of voters in the election.

“The Egyptian authorities must uphold the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly and ensure that peaceful protesters are not arbitrarily arrested and detained,” the London-based rights group’s Middle East director, Malcolm Smart, said in a statement last week.

Voter turnout is expected to be low as usual in Egypt, where elections are often marred by violence and ballot fraud, according to rights groups.

The government insists the election will be fair and the electoral committee says it granted more than 6,000 permits to local civil society groups to monitor the vote and the ballot counting.

The NDP, which has dominated parliament for more than three decades, is expected to gain seats in parliament at the expense of the Brotherhood. It is running about 800 candidates.

Campaign restrictions on the remaining Brotherhood candidates and a low voter turnout amid fears of violence and widespread suspicion about the election’s integrity are expected to reduce the Islamists’ share.


Source: SGGP

Germany raises security alert after attack warnings

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2010 at 6:57 am

Food security essential to socio-political stability

In Uncategorized on November 10, 2010 at 1:51 am

Japan faces ‘more severe’ security situation: PM

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2010 at 11:59 am

TOKYO, Oct 24, 2010 (AFP) – Japan is facing growing security challenges due to China’s flexing of its military might and North Korea’s missile development programme and nuclear status, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Sunday.

Kan’s comments come amid heightened tensions with China over disputed islands and growing military activities by the rapidly developing Asian giant and follow a report that North Korea may be preparing for a third nuclear test.

Troops of Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) attend an inspection parade at the Asaka military base in suburban Tokyo on October 24, 2010. AFP

Ties between Tokyo and Beijing were badly strained after Japan arrested a Chinese trawler captain near the island chain in the East China Sea last month, sparking a barrage of protests from Beijing.

“The security situation surrounding Japan is becoming more severe, seen in concerns over North Korea’s missile and nuclear arms development and in China’s increasing naval activity along with its military modernisation,” Kan said at an inspection parade of troops in suburban Tokyo.

“The Self-Defence Forces need to be poised to deal with various situations effectively,” Kan said, using the official name of the Japanese troops.

Kan also stressed the importance of strengthening the decades-long alliance with the United States, saying: “I’d like to deepen the alliance into an appropriate form for the 21st century.”

The prime minister attended the parade for the first time as the premier of the government led by the centre-left Democratic Party of Japan, which ousted a conservative government last year.

In the latest development in the bitter spat between China and Japan, Tokyo on Sunday urged Beijing to normalise rare earth exports that are crucial for high-tech Japan after shipments were blocked last month.

Japanese trade minister Trade Minister Akihiro Ohata said he had urged Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Jiang Yaoping to “make improvements so that exports of rare earths will be carried out smoothly,” amid continued interruptions caused by strict inspections by Chinese customs officials.

The Chinese navy has increasingly been deployed to areas near Japanese territorial waters in a show of force by China.

In an incident in April this year, a large Chinese flotilla ventured near a group of Japanese islands in the East China Sea and sent out a helicopter that buzzed Japanese navy ships monitoring their movement.

The increased Chinese activity in its southern waters has sparked a defence rethink in which Japan plans to deploy more forces to its scattered southern islands and away from Cold War-era locations in the north near Russia.

Beijing’s increased assertiveness, particularly in the South China Sea, has caused jitters among other neighbouring nations as well as the United States, which is also at odds with China over trade and currency issues.

Meanwhile Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s biggest-selling newspaper, reported Thursday that North Korea appeared to be preparing for a third nuclear test, citing an unidentified government source.

South Korea’s Unification Minister Hyun In-Taek said Friday the chances of another nuclear test by the communist North could not be ruled out, although the likelihood was low.

Source: SGGP

Some private security firms to stay in Afghanistan

In Uncategorized on October 18, 2010 at 6:24 am

KABUL, Oct 18 (AFP) – The Afghan government rolled back its plan to disband all private security firms, declaring that those protecting embassies and military bases could maintain those operations in the country.

President Hamid Karzai’s office said firms “providing security for embassies, transport of diplomats, diplomatic residences, international forces’ bases and depots can continue operation within these limits”.

AFP file – Private security officers protect Afghan President Hamid Karzai (2nd L) during a visit to in Bagram Airfield in May 2010.

Karzai in August ordered that all private security contractors operating in the country, both Afghan and international, must cease operations by January 1, 2011, despite a continuing Taliban and Al-Qaeda insurgency.

The decree led to widespread concern that the deadline was too tight to find alternatives amid a deteriorating security situation, and fears that some diplomats and private companies would be forced to leave Afghanistan.

While the measure received widespread support in principle, diplomats, military officials and private security contractors have said Karzai’s government has been under intense pressure to reconsider the blanket ban.

In a brief statement Sunday, Karzai’s office said that “concerns expressed by NATO commanders and foreign embassies about the dissolution of private security companies” had been considered.

Firms not involved in military or diplomatic security would be dissolved as planned, it said.

“Other private security companies pose a serious threat to internal security and national sovereignty, and the dissolution process will continue with no exception,” the statement said.

Afghan officials have said that more than 50 private security firms, about half of them Afghan, employ tens of thousands of armed personnel across the country.

Following the collapse of the Taliban regime in a US-led invasion in 2001 private security firms rushed in to fill a vacuum created by a lack of adequately trained police and army forces.

In 2006 the Afghan authorities began registering, regulating and licensing the firms but there have been questions about the activities of some.

The companies provide security to the international forces, the Pentagon, the UN mission, aid and non-governmental organisations, embassies and Western media companies in Afghanistan.

The Afghan government earlier this month formally banned eight foreign private security firms, including Xe, the controversial company formerly called Blackwater.

Executives with private security firms have refused to speak publicly about the ban, but have said that visas for some employees have been cancelled as part of the dissolution process.

Some have also said that clients had expressed concerns about the ban, as the insurgency spreads across the country and foreign construction and aid contractors are targeted by the Taliban.

But Karzai has accused the security companies of running an “economic mafia” based around “corruption contracts” favoured by the international community.

He has said the firms duplicate the work of the Afghan security forces and divert much-needed resources, while Afghans criticise the private guards as overbearing and abusive, particularly on the country’s roads.

Critics have said the tight deadline would not allow enough time to negotiate an alternative to private contractors in a country were security is a priority and police are generally not trusted.

Karzai’s spokesman Waheed Omer said earlier this month that the ban would not immediately affect companies dealing with the training of national security forces or guards operating inside buildings to provide protection.

“The focus is on those security companies which are protecting the highways, protecting transport caravans — those areas other than the training of Afghan security forces or protecting the internal premises of international organisations or embassies, or others,” he said.

Omer said security had improved along some highways since the ban on private guards operating as escorts for supply convoys in those areas.

Xe, formerly Blackwater, gained notoriety in Iraq after guards protecting a convoy opened fire in a busy Baghdad square in September 2007, killing as many as 17 civilians.

Last month two former Blackwater security guards went on trial in the United States, accused of the murder of two Afghan citizens in a 2009 shooting.

Source: SGGP

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

UAE ban on BlackBerry data a security badge of honor

In Uncategorized on August 4, 2010 at 7:20 am

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug 3, 2010 (AFP) – Security experts said Tuesday that banning BlackBerry data service in the United Arab Emirates smacks of political backlash and could be a testament to how hard it is to snoop on that network.

“The BlackBerry security model is very different from other phones,” said Kevin Mahaffey of Lookout mobile security firm.

“It is end-to-end and the encryption is so strong nobody knows how to monitor it.”

A user tries out the new Blackberry Torch 9800 smartphone after it was unveiled at a news conference August 3, 2010 in New York City. AFP

Canada-based Research In Motion built its own platform for business customers that encrypts BlackBerry email messages and routes them in a way that keeps the data off limits from even telecom firms that carry the transmissions.

“They have such good security that I think some countries are uncomfortable with the fact that they can’t intercept it,” said Lookout chief executive John Hering.

While iPhones have been all the rage with smartphones users thrilled by games, social networking, video watching and other casual uses, BlackBerry has remained a favorite for business people craving secure wireless communications.

BlackBerry smartphones can be hard targets for countries that do electronic snooping in the name of national security.

RIM on Tuesday denied allegations it had offered some governments access to customers’ data and not others, as it faced a ban in two Gulf States and India.

The UAE has said that BlackBerry services including messenger, web browsing and email will be suspended because they “allow individuals to commit violations” that the country cannot monitor.

People who use BlackBerry handsets as personal smartphones don’t enjoy the same protections as companies that contract with RIM to deploy the devices to employees.

BlackBerry security is designed to let business users “transmit information wirelessly while also providing them with the necessary confidence that no one, including RIM, could access their data,” according to RIM.

RIM uses a special layer of coding to shield email as it is routed to the company’s servers and then on to intended recipients, according to Mahaffey.

BlackBerry also uses encrypted validation to identify handsets connecting to the network, according to Peter Beardmore of Russia-based computer security firm Kaspersky Lab.

“BlackBerry is a more highly secured device,” Beardmore said.

“There are a wide variety of services available through the BlackBerry network that you are going to be hard pressed to find in other services.”

Typical smartphones route email through telecom service providers, which can intercept data for governments.

Text messages, voice calls, and Internet browsing activity are up for grabs on all smartphones because telecom service providers can see that activity, said Nicholas Percoco, vice president of SpiderLabs at Trustwave Information Security firm.

Online purchases, banking and other financial dealings should be protected by encryption that is standard practice for such transactions.

Percoco wondered whether the move against BlackBerry in the UAE was political backlash.

Two years ago, RIM charged that an update issued by UAE’s largest telecom service provider, Etisalat, was actually spyware, and that it enabled unauthorized access to information stored on users’ smartphones.

Microsoft makes ActiveSync software for businesses that can encrypt email sent with iPhone, Android, or Windows smartphones, Percoco noted.

Secure, encrypted connections can be made wirelessly from laptops with the help of VPN software from Cisco. Good Technology sells software to protect messages on mobile phones.

“This whole thing may not be security charged, it may be politically charged,” Percoco said.

“From a security standpoint, it doesn’t really jibe,” he continued. “It looks like basically RIM wouldn’t let them put a bugging device in the phone.”

Source: SGGP

ASEM forum seeks solutions to food security

In Uncategorized on July 5, 2010 at 4:09 pm

ASEM forum seeks solutions to food security

QĐND – Monday, July 05, 2010, 21:27 (GMT+7)

The first Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) forum on food security began in Ho Chi Minh City on July 5.

Co-hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the meeting was initiated by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and was approved at the seventh ASEM Summit in Beijing , China , in October 2008.

The forum brought together more than 60 delegates from Vietnam ’s ministries and agencies, as well as diplomats and experts from ASEM member countries, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Bui Ba Bong said that Vietnam attaches a great deal of importance to international cooperation to ensure food security as the global agricultural product market faces many adverse difficulties, especially after the recent global financial-economic crisis.

ASEM members can share their experiences, discuss possible solutions and increase cooperation to deal with the issue, he said.

Bong told the participants that Vietnam is one of the five countries in the world to be the hardest hit by rising sea levels, therefore the country has worked out an agricultural development strategy and changed its food security policy to bring it in line with the country’s socio-economic development and industrialisation, to reduce poverty and ensure that rice growers are protected.

At the forum, the delegates will evaluate the impacts of the global financial crisis on food security as well as the challenges posed by the increasing cost of agricultural products, epidemics, the decrease in farming land and the lack of water.

They will also discuss how to ensure food security and measures to enhance cooperation amongst ASEM member nations by speeding up the transfer of technologies in agricultural production, foster public-private partnership and how to coordinate national and regional policies more effectively.

On July 6, the delegates are scheduled to make a field-trip to a high yielding rice area that applies good agriculture practices (GAP) and a rice processing plant in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

G8 leaders to focus on international security

In Uncategorized on June 26, 2010 at 12:41 pm

HUNTSVILLE, Canada (AFP) – Leaders of the industrial world were to shift their attention to Iran and North Korea Saturday as nuclear proliferation and other security issues take center stage at their summit.

“The session… is going to focus on peace and security, Iran and North Korea will be discussed” a senior US official told reporters at the Group of Eight (G8) summit being held north of the Canadian city of Toronto.

Police hold back demonstrators protesting against the G8/G20 summits in Toronto, Canada. AFP

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said US President Barack Obama also planned meetings with the leaders of South Korea on Saturday and of China and Japan on Sunday to discuss the security situation in East Asia.

The heads of eight powerful nations are set to debate North Korea’s alleged sinking of a South Korean warship, with Japan pushing for an outright condemnation of the nuclear-armed state.

The outcome on Saturday, the final day of the two-day summit, will be watched closely by diplomats as it can set the stage for any UN action over the incident, in which 46 sailors died.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan told German Chancellor Angela Merkel in talks at the summit sidelines Friday that “it is important for G8 to support South Korea and issue a clear message of condemnation” against North Korea.

Four of the five permanent UN Security Council members — Britain, France, Russia and the United States — are in the G8. The G20 meeting of developed and emerging nations takes place in Toronto later Saturday and on Sunday.

On Friday, Europe and the United States tried to bridge differences over how to sustain fragile global economic recovery and sought common ground on dealing with ballooning deficits.

All eyes at the summit in an exclusive lakeside resort were on a potential clash between European leaders bent on slashing spending and a Washington fearful of stifling growth.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel showed her hand early, insisting members must move fast to cut soaring public deficits and ensure financial stability — but both she and US officials stressed this did not represent a split with the United States.

“The discussion was not controversial, there was a lot of mutual understanding,” she told journalists.

“I have made it clear that we need sustainable growth and that growth and intelligent austerity measures don’t have to be contradictions,” Merkel said.

A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the meeting had gone well and that Merkel and Obama had not fallen out over Germany’s call for immediate fiscal tightening.

“The president sees deficit reduction as part of a medium and long-term growth strategy. Coming to the G8 and G20 his main focus is these things are not exclusive,” the administration official told reporters.

The leaders — from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States — held closed door talks among themselves and with a group of African leaders.

Europe has been spooked by a sovereign debt crisis that has pushed some eurozone members such as Greece to the brink of default — threatening the stability of the euro and of some European financial institutions.

Merkel has led the way in pushing for governments to rein in their record deficits, and has vowed to slash Germany’s own spending by 80 billion euros (98 billion dollars) over the next four years.

Britain’s new government this week announced the biggest cuts in decades.

But some other capitals, including Washington, fear a dramatic attack on spending could undermine jobs, consumer demand and even the strength of the global recovery — threatening a “double dip” recession.

In Toronto around 2,000 protesters — a loose coalition of leftist activists and anarchists — faced off against riot police, but there was no serious violence and no more than a handful of arrests.

Larger protests were planned for Saturday when delegates return to Toronto from the Huntsville resort to meet more world leaders under the G20 format..

Canada has spent a billion dollars to secure the summit behind a ring of steel and police reinforcements, hoping to avoid a repeat of the large-scale street violence that has marred previous global meetings.

Aside from moving closer to agreement on the economic challenge, the leaders announced a five-billion-dollar package of aid to help protect mothers in the developing world from illness.

Source: SGGP