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U.S. to send 1,400 extra troops to Afghanistan: report

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:13 am

The United States plans to send 1,400 additional Marines to Afghanistan to boost its combat forces ahead of the spring fighting season, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The United States, which led a 2001 invasion of Afghanistan that toppled the Taliban, has about 100,000 troops in the country, and President Barack Obama is under pressure to show results so he can begin a promised withdrawal this year.

A U.S. Marine patrols with a member of an Afghan border guard unit in the desert of the lower Helmand River valley, in southern Afghanistan in this July 1, 2009 file photo

“The Marine battalion could start arriving on the ground as early as mid-January. The forces would mostly be deployed in the south, around Kandahar, where the U.S. has concentrated troops over the past several months.” the paper said. It cited unnamed officials.

The Taliban are at their strongest since they were ousted form power, although operations against the insurgency have intensified since 2008. More than 700 foreign troops were killed in Afghanistan last year, and civilian casualties were at record levels.

Obama said last month that enough progress was being made in the campaign to meet his pledge to start withdrawing U.S. troops by July and hand over security to Afghan forces by 2014.

Source: SGGP

Report: US may send envoy Richardson to Pyongyang

In Uncategorized on July 20, 2010 at 11:27 am

SEOUL, July 19, 2010 (AFP) – A South Korean newspaper said Monday that US President Barack Obama may send an envoy to North Korea to break the impasse in relations.

Obama is considering allowing New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson — a veteran troubleshooter with the North — to accept an invitation to visit Pyongyang, according to the JoongAng Ilbo and its English-language sister paper JoongAng Daily.

The JoongAng Daily, quoting “multiple diplomatic sources” in Seoul, said Han Song-Ryol, deputy North Korean ambassador to the United Nations, invited Richardson in May to discuss issues including the sinking of a South Korean warship.

South Korea’s foreign ministry declined comment.

But spokesman Kim Young-Sun called for caution over any such visit while countermeasures are being discussed for the sinking. “We understand the US government shares the same position,” he said.

Tensions have risen since South Korea and the United States, citing the findings of a multinational investigation, accused the North of torpedoing a South Korean warship, the Cheonan, near the tense sea border in March.

The North denies involvement and says a UN Security Council statement on July 9 — which condemned the attack without specifying the culprit — vindicated it.

After the UN statement it reiterated conditional willingness to return to stalled six-party nuclear disarmament talks.

“I’m aware that the North Korean side told Richardson it is willing to consider expressing regrets or making an ameliorating statement about the Cheonan incident if he visits Pyongyang,” the JoongAng Daily quoted one source as saying.

“The North Korean government is seeking a chance to turn around the situation through Richardson since it’s been driven into a corner after the Cheonan attack.”

The paper quoted the source as saying the communist state’s tactics resemble its handling of the case of two detained US journalists. They were freed last August after former US President Bill Clinton visited Pyongyang.

The source said Richardson had told the White House he strongly wants to visit Pyongyang, but South Korea believed this was premature until the North admits involvement in the sinking.

Since the UN statement, the source said, “the Obama government is now taking a forward-looking position and it recently informed the South Korean government that ‘It’s hard to continuously block Richardson’s Pyongyang visit’.”

The last US official to visit Pyongyang was Stephen Bosworth, special representative for North Korea policy, who went there last December.

Richardson has visited Pyongyang numerous times. In 1996 he negotiated the release of an American who swam across a border river and was jailed for spying.

In 2007 he discussed the repatriation of the remains of US soldiers who fought in the Korean War.

Source: SGGP

Mexico send sorry France to brink of World Cup exit

In Uncategorized on June 18, 2010 at 4:26 am

 France, the 1998 world champions and 2006 runners-up, were left teetering on the brink of World Cup first round elimination on Thursday when they slumped to a 2-0 defeat against Mexico.

Veteran Cuauhtemoc Blanco converted a late penalty to clinch the victory after substitute striker, Manchester United-bound Javier Hernandez, had put the Central Americans ahead 64 minutes into the Group A showdown at Peter Mokaba Stadium.

Mexico’s first victory over France left them and Uruguay level on four points ahead of a June 22 Rustenburg clash and both will advance to the next round by drawing.

France play South Africa, who have a point each, at the same time in Bloemfontein and if either wins and the other game delivers a positive result, goal difference could come into play.

Mexico’s Javier Hernandez celebrates after scoring a goal during the Group A first round 2010 World Cup football match France vs. Mexico at Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane. Mexico won 2-0.

“We need a miracle now,” said France coach Raymond Domenech. “We have to be strong and at least play for our honour. At least we must show something in the last match. When we are forced to rely on others, there’s nothing to say.”

Skipper Rafael Marquez warned Mexico they could not let the win go to their heads.

“We have to keep our feet on the ground despite this win,” the Barcelona defender said.

Coach Javier Aguirre added: “It was very important to beat France – they are after all the vice-world champions. We turned in a very fine performance – but we are not yet mathematically through.

Hernandez, nicknamed the Little Pea, was ebullient after his goal.

“I am delighted with this victory more so than for my goal or indeed getting the man of the match award.

“We wanted to make the Mexican people happy and this win is a first step for there is a long way to go.”

The fourth meeting of the countries in the history of the tournament kicked off in cold conditions before a large colourful crowd with each team making one change from their opening encounter last Friday.

Malouda replaced Yoann Gourcuff in the French line-up while defender Hector Morena came in for Paul Aguilar in the Mexico side.

Saudi Arabian referee Khalil al-Ghamdi stamped his imprint early with a fourth-minute caution for veteran Mexican striker Guillermo Franco amid much protest.

Mexico had a couple of early half chances that were not put away by Carlos Vela and Franco while a slick French free-kick manoeuvre fizzled out as Franck Ribery overhit a cross.

The Central Americans were more threatening as the halfway point of the opening half approached with a William Gallas block taking the sting out of a move and Carlos Salcido firing past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris only to miss the target.

It was Lloris versus Salcido again on 27 minutes with the French goalkeeper doing well to push away a hard, low drive after the Mexican cut in from the left flank helped by timid defending.

Mexico suffered a blow when Vela limped off to be replaced by Pablo Barrera, who put Lloris under pressure almost immediately from a cross that the goalkeeper unconvincingly punched away.

Mexico broke the deadlock on 64 minutes when Hernandez raced on to a lobbed Rafael Marquez pass, rounded Lloris and calmly stroked the ball into the net.

Domenech, who gives way after this tournament to former star Laurent Blanc, stared emotion-less at the action as his side struggled to make an impact up front.

And his worst fears were realised after 79 minutes when Eric Abidal fouled Pablo Berrera and 37-year-old Blanco made a long run before placing a low spot kick wide of Lloris into the corner of the net.

Source: SGGP

S.Korea to send envoy to China over warship sinking

In Uncategorized on June 7, 2010 at 10:25 am

SEOUL, June 7, 2010 (AFP) – South Korea will send an envoy to China this week to seek support for its campaign for the UN Security Council to censure North Korea over the sinking of a warship, officials said Monday.

Vice Foreign Minister Chun Yung-Woo will visit China for two days from Tuesday, a foreign ministry spokesman told AFP.

Chun visited the United States last week as part of Seoul’s diplomatic drive.

South Korea formally asked the council Friday to respond to North Korea’s sinking of one of its warships in March with the loss of 46 lives, despite the north’s threat of retaliation.

UN ambassador Park In-kook told reporters he handed a letter to the council’s chairman, Mexican ambassador Claude Heller, requesting action “commensurate with the gravity of the situation”.

The South can expect support from the United States, Britain and France but China and Russia, the other two veto-wielding permanent council members, have not publicly stated their position.

A multinational investigation team said last month there was overwhelming evidence that a North Korean submarine fired a torpedo to break the Cheonan in two near the disputed border in March.

Source: SGGP

Iran inks deal to send enriched uranium to Turkey

In Uncategorized on May 17, 2010 at 9:01 am

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran inked a nuclear fuel swap deal Monday which commits it to ship 1,200 kilograms of low enriched uranium to Turkey, potentially ending a standoff with world powers gearing for new sanctions against the Islamic republic.

The agreement, under which Iran will in return receive nuclear fuel for a Tehran reactor, was signed in the Iranian capital between the foreign ministers of Iran, Turkey and Brazil, an AFP correspondent said.

(L-R) Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu hold hands after Iran inked a nuclear fuel swap deal in Tehran on May 17, 2010. AFP photo

The signing came after three-way talks by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Under the agreement, Iran will deposit 1,200 kilograms (2,640 pounds) of its low enriched uranium in Turkey.

“While in Turkey this LEU will continue to be the property of Iran. Iran and the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) may station observers to monitor the safekeeping of the LEU in Turkey,” the accord reads.

“Iran will notify the IAEA in writing through official channels of its agreement with the above within seven days following the date of this declaration,” it adds.

Foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters that it would then be up to the IAEA to inform “the Vienna group” — the United States, France and Russia — of the proposal.

The three powers have been at the forefront of efforts to persuade Iran to accept a UN-backed deal brokered last October, under which Iran was required to ship its LEU to Russia to be further enriched and then on to France to make nuclear fuel for the Tehran research reactor.

Iran had so far stalled on the deal, insisting it wants to keep the LEU on its own soil for a simultaneous swap with reactor fuel.

Its refusal to sign on the IAEA accord prompted major powers led by the United States to threaten a fourth round of UN sanctions against the Islamic republic for failing to halt its uranium enrichment activities.

Should the Vienna group accept the deal, the accord says, Iran would deliver 1,200 kilograms of LEU to Turkey within a month and would expect to receive from the world powers 120 kilos of fuel for Tehran’s research reactor within a year.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu told reporters after Monday’s signing that Anakra now sees “no need” for further UN sanctions against Iran.

“This agreement should be regarded positively and there is no need for sanctions now that we (Turkey and Brazil) have made guarantees and the low enriched uranium will remain in Turkey,” he said.

But Israel, which along with many Western powers suspects Iran is using its nuclear enrichment programme to mask a drive for atomic weapons, immediately accused Tehran of trickery.

“The Iranians have manipulated Turkey and Brazil,” a senior Israeli official in Jerusalem told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“The Iranians have already pulled off such a trick in the past — by pretending to accept such a procedure to lower tensions and reduce the risk of harsher international sanctions, then refusing to follow through,” he said.

There was no immediate reaction from the IAEA.

Brazil’s president, in Iran for a summit of non-aligned countries, held talks on the nuclear issue with Iran’s leadership Sunday.

At Iran’s invitation, Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan arrived at around midnight local time (1930 GMT) Sunday to join Lula.

At the heart of the international dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme is the suspicion in the West that Iran wants the highly enriched uranium it produces to make an atomic bomb — a charge Tehran vehemently denies.

In recent days both Russia and the United States made it clear that they considered Lula’s visit to Iran as Tehran’s last chance to stave off sanctions.

Turkey and Brazil are both currently non-permanent members of the UN Security Council.

Both have so far resisted US-led efforts to push through a fourth package of sanctions over Iran’s failure to heed repeated ultimatums to suspend its sensitive uranium enrichment activities.

Source: SGGP

Vietnam to send aquaculture experts to Namibia

In Uncategorized on May 13, 2010 at 12:55 am

Vietnam to send aquaculture experts to Namibia

QĐND – Wednesday, May 12, 2010, 21:5 (GMT+7)

Vietnam will send its aquaculture and marine specialists to Namibia under a tripartite agreement between the two countries and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The agreement signed in Roma on May 11 is part of the South-South development projects that Vietnam has successfully conducted with FAO since 1996.

A series of detailed projects in Namibia will be carried out by FAO and Vietnam following the tripartite agreement.

Addressing the signing ceremony, Jose Maria Sumpsi, Assistant to FAO General Director, hailed Vietnam ’s recent successes, particularly its turning from a food shortage country into a world leading rice exporter.

In aquaculture and fishing, Vietnam obtained significant achievements. In 2009, the Southeast Asian nation ranked sixth on export of aquatic products, fifth on aquaculture output and 12 th on fishing output in the world, the FAO official said.

As a result, FAO trusted in and asked Vietnam to provide Namibia with experiences, technology and a staff of skilled workers in the aquatic sector. The three sides hoped that with Vietnam ’s experiences in the area, the tripartite cooperation model would be successful in the coming time.

Source: VNA

Source: QDND

No plan to send troops to Yemen, Obama says

In World on January 11, 2010 at 5:52 am

US President Barack Obama (Photo: AFP)

WASHINGTON, Jan 10, 2010 (AFP) – President Barack Obama says he has “no intention” of sending US troops to fight militants in Yemen and Somalia, despite growing concern over the presence of militant cells there.

Obama made a fresh push for international cooperation to confront militants in Yemen, where the top US military officer, Admiral Michael Mullen, said sending troops was “not a possibility.”

“I never rule out any possibility in a world that is this complex… In countries like Yemen, in countries like Somalia, I think working with international partners is most effective at this point,” Obama said in a People interview to be published Friday. The magazine released a transcript Sunday.

“I have no intention of sending US boots on the ground in these regions.”

He insisted the lawless tribal belt straddling the Afghanistan-Pakistan border “remains the epicenter of Al-Qaeda,” but acknowledged a Yemen-based affiliate of Osama bin Laden’s network has become “a more serious problem.”

The impoverished country’s long-standing scourge of extremism was thrown into the spotlight after the Al-Qaeda branch claimed responsibility for a narrowly-averted Christmas Day bombing aboard a US-bound airliner.

Recent strikes on Al-Qaeda positions in Yemen, including cruise missile attacks, were reportedly led by the United States, which has vowed to boost its economic and military aid to Sanaa. London and Washington have already announced plans to fund a counter-extremism police in the country.

Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged in a CNN interview that the United States was providing “some support” to Yemen’s efforts to strike Al-Qaeda militants, but insisted Sanaa led the operations.

Yemen has been hostile to any US military intervention, but analysts fear bin Laden’s ancestral homeland cannot tackle the militants on its own.

Striking a conciliatory tone, Obama said the message his administration sends to Muslim communities around the world was “extraordinarily important.”

“We can’t return to sort of a garrison-state notion that we’re just going to hunker down and this is only an issue of firepower and boots on the ground,” he added.

A thinly stretched US military has deployed large troop contingents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The number of US troops in Afghanistan — where Obama has vowed to focus his war against Al-Qaeda militants who have also sought refuge in neighboring Pakistan — is set to triple under his watch from 2008 levels, reaching some 100,000 later this year.

Washington has urged Yemen to crack down on Al-Qaeda but Sanaa already faces a litany of challenges, including a water shortage, dwindling oil reserves, a Shiite rebellion in the north and a movement for autonomy in the south.

Somalia is also the focus of US counterterrorism efforts, where an embattled transitional government faces relentless attacks from extremist Shebab militants and their Hezb al-Islam allies.

The central government asserts little control over the country located along key shipping routes to oil fields in the Middle East, with pirates now swarming the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.

US officials have said they are seeking to boost military and intelligence cooperation with Yemen.

General David Petraeus, the head of US Central Command, which oversees a region encompassing the Middle East, the Gulf, the Horn of Africa and Central Asia, welcomed Yemen’s desire to tackle extremists on its own.

“We would always want a host nation to deal with a problem itself. We want to help. We’re providing assistance,” he told CNN after returning from a trip to Yemen during which he held talks with President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Petraeus said Washington planned to more than double its economic aid to Yemen this year to 150 million dollars or more, up from 70 million last year. But US officials have insisted the total aid amount has not yet been determined.

Though the figure pales in comparison to the billions of dollars Washington has poured into Afghanistan, the general stressed other allies were providing aid, including Saudi Arabia, which has reportedly allocated two billion dollars, and the United Arab Emirates, which pledged 650 million dollars to Sanaa.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Paralympic squad gets official send off in capital

In Uncategorized on August 24, 2008 at 3:58 pm

HA NOI — Viet Nam’s Paralympic squad were given an official send-off at the Youth Palace in Ha Noi yesterday.

About 4,000 athletes from 150 nations and territories will be competing in 20 events at the 2009 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, which is scheduled to run from September 6-17.

Viet Nam are sending nine athletes to compete in athletics, swimming, weightlifting and judo.

Speaking at the ceremony, vice minister and head of the General Department of Sports and Physical Training Nguyen Danh Thai stressed that Vietnamese athletes should compete in a spirit of friendly rivalry as they are representing not just themselves but their country.

Among the squad are weightlifters Dinh Thi Nga and Le Van Cong – who won an entry to the Games. Seven other athletes received wild-card places due to their successes at recent international events.

Nga will compete in the women’s 52kg category and Cong the men’s 48kg category.

“I and my teammates will compete to the best of our abilities in order to bring a medal home,” said Le Van Cong, a paraplegic.

Cong and ASEAN Para Games triple gold-medal holder Le Thi Hai – who will compete in the women’s shot-put, javelin and discus – are Viet Nam’s main medal hope.

Dang Anh Tuyet and Chau Hoang Tuyet Loan will compete in the women’s weightlifting 40kg and 48kg classes, respectively.

Hanoian sprinter Dao Van Cuong is competing in the 100m, 200m and 400m.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Thi Thanh Thao is competing in the women’s wheelchair 100m, 200m and 400m events, while swimmer Nguyen Quang Vuong is hoping for a medal in the men’s 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke.

The final member of the squad is judo athlete Trieu Thi Nhoi, who is also a strong medal contender.

This is the third time Vietnamese athletes have competed the Paralympics. —