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Posts Tagged ‘want’

Cash-strapped Brits want royals to foot wedding bill

In Uncategorized on November 20, 2010 at 7:42 am

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

Airlines want compensation as Europe’s skies reopen

In Uncategorized on April 22, 2010 at 4:12 am

As Europe’s airspace reopened and weary passengers boarded long-delayed flights home, airline executives pressed for government compensation to cover the industry’s massive losses.

Eurocontrol, Europe‘s air safety authority, said they expected air traffic to be “almost 100 percent” on Thursday, estimating that 75 percent of the 28,000 flights normally scheduled Wednesday had flown.

All Europe’s main air hubs were up and running Wednesday and experts in Iceland said the Eyjafjjoell volcano had lost most of its intensity.

But a week after a volcanic eruption in Iceland caused the worst disruption to aviation since World War II, airline bosses were counting their losses — and wanted to know who would foot the bill.

Stranded travelers trying to get back to Brussels wait in line at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) put the overall cost to the airline industry at 1.7 billion dollars (1.3 billion euros): at its peak, said IATA, the crisis was costing 400 million dollars a day.

“For an industry that lost 9.4 billion dollars last year and was forecast to lose a further 2.8 billion dollars in 2010, this crisis is devastating,” said IATA chief Giovanni Bisignani in Berlin.

“Airspace was being closed based on theoretical models, not on facts.”

Now governments needed to look at how to compensate the airlines, he said.

“I am the first one to say that this industry does not want or need bailouts. But this crisis is not the result of running our business badly.”

An extraordinary situation had been exacerbated by “poor decision-making” from the governments,” he argued.

“Governments should help carriers recover the cost of this disruption.”

British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh had already branded the ban unnecessary, and British opposition leader David Cameron called for a public inquiry into the government’s handling of the crisis.

Conservative leader Cameron, who is locked in an election battle with Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown, said there had been “muddle and confusion” in the government over the crisis.

But as the recriminations flew, one vulcanologist advising the United Nations said the authorities had had no choice but to close their airspace because of the lack of hard facts about aircraft behaviour in volcanic ash.

“There is at the moment no reliable data on the exact concentration of ash in the atmosphere and when an aircraft can fly, or not, through such plumes,” said Gaudru, president of the European Vulcanological Society.

Because of this lack of knowledge, closure to air traffic “was the only measure that could be taken,” he argued.

The April 14 decision by several European governments to close their airspace affected millions of would-be passengers around the world.

But the main hubs in the continent’s flight networks expected to be running as normal Thursday.

Germany’s Lufthansa, Europe’s largest airline by passenger numbers, said it would fly at full capacity on Thursday by operating around 1,800 flights compared to the 700 it was able to run on Wednesday.

All long-haul passenger services from Paris’ main international hub Charles de Gaulle were operating as scheduled, while Air France said it had flown 40,000 stranded people back home since Tuesday.

“Our traffic has returned to normal,” a spokeswoman said.

And London Heathrow airport, the biggest and busiest in Europe, was going strong after reopening late Tuesday.

The only place in Britain still affected by the volcanic ash cloud was in the north, where the airspace over the remote Scottish isles of Orkney and Shetland were temporarily closed again due to still unsafe ash levels.

In Scandinavia, however, Denmark, Norway and Sweden lifted the last of their restrictions in a sign the worst of the threat had faded.

Some 450 British troops and 280 civilians stranded by the volcanic ash cloud finally made it back home Wednesday after a warship came to their rescue.

HMS Albion sailed into Portsmouth Naval Base on the southern English coast after a day-long crossing from Santander in northern Spain.

The troops were returning from a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan: the civilians were largely holidaymakers stranded by the closure of British airspace.

In Iceland, the civil protection agency said the volcano had lost nearly 80 percent of its intensity.

“Explosive activity has diminished. Ash production has gone down. It’s really insignificant right now,” said Pall Einarsson, a seismologist from Iceland’s Institute of Earth Sciences.

Einarsson, however, said the volcano had “not gone to sleep” and that it was impossible to predict when it would stop erupting.

Source: SGGP

Lawmakers want lower budget deficit target next year

In Politics-Society on October 25, 2009 at 5:28 pm

Lawmakers want lower budget deficit target next year

QĐND – Sunday, October 25, 2009, 20:49 (GMT+7)

Vietnamese legislators said the 2010 budget deficit should be kept at 6 percent of gross domestic product instead of 6.5 percent as projected by the government.

Fiscal policies need to be tightened, Ho Chi Minh City representative Tran Du Lich said on Friday at a meeting of the National Assembly, the country’s highest lawmaking body.

If public capital spending was not monitored closely, there would be a high risk of inflation, he said.

Many lawmakers said it was necessary to tackle the growing deficit, which the National Assembly Finance and Budget Committee has forecast to stand at 6.9 percent of GDP this year, up from 4.1 percent in 2008. They wanted the government to cut the deficit to 6 percent next year.

But Finance Minister Vu Van Ninh said the government was aiming to keep the budget deficit at 6.5 percent of GDP in 2010 because revenue sources were not expected to grow next year.

Many tariff lines would be cut next year, reducing government revenue by around VND3 trillion, Ninh said.

As a result, if the budget deficit next year had to be cut to 6 percent, the government would need to ask localities to contribute more, or investment, social welfare and salaries would need to be reduced, he said.

“The important thing is government debt is still in the safe zone,” Ninh said, noting that many other countries also have budget deficits as they want to spend money for economic development.

Vietnam’s government debt is forecast to stand at 40 percent of its gross domestic product this year, up from 36.5 percent in 2007, the National Assembly Finance and Budget Committee said earlier this month. The debt may continue to surge to 44 percent of GDP next year.

However, Lich said Vietnam’s authorities were not excellent forecasters, implying that government revenue sources may not fall next year as expected by the government.

The government set the 2009 budget deficit target at 7 percent of GDP after there were forecasts that government revenue would fall by as much as VND60 trillion this year, Lich said.

But revenue has been on the rise so far this year, he said, asking why the full-year budget deficit was still expected to reach only 6.9 percent of GDP despite sharp revenue hikes.

Lich said although the government had not successfully raised funds through bond sales but “there was still enough money for investment.”

“So why did the government have to hold bond auctions in the first place?” he asked.

Vietnam’s government reportedly aimed to raise up to US$1 billion from bond issuances on the domestic market in 2009, Standard & Poor’s said in a report last month. “However, the weak demand for its offerings in late August suggests that this target is unlikely to be met. The low interest rate that the government was willing to pay did little to attract investor interest.”

Standard & Poor’s forecast government budget deficit to rise to 6.7 percent of GDP this year. “This reflects both an expectation of weaker economic performance in the year as well as countercyclical measures the government is undertaking,” said the US-based provider of independent investment research.

The forecast compares with an estimate of 10.3 percent of GDP by the Asian Development Bank last month.

Vietnam’s GDP growth this year is projected to hit a decade-low of 5.2 percent, in line with a target of around 5 percent set by legislators, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said on Tuesday.

Source: Thanh Nien, Agencies

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