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Iran blames West, Israel for bombings

In Uncategorized on July 17, 2010 at 4:49 pm

A wounded Iranian woman rests at a hospital in the southeastern city of Zahedan. AFP

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran blamed the West and Israel on Saturday for twin suicide bombings which killed at least 27 people, despite condemnation of the attack by the European Union, United Nations and United States.

Iranian police, meanwhile, arrested 40 people for “creating disturbances” in the southeastern city of Zahedan where the bombers struck on Thursday, the Mehr news agency reported.

“This blind terrorist act was carried out by the mercenaries of the world arrogance (the Western powers),” state television’s website quoted Deputy Interior Minister Ali Abdollahi as saying.

“The agents of this crime were trained and equipped beyond our borders and then came into Iran,” Abdollahi said.

Sunni militant group Jundallah has said it carried out the bombings which targeted members of the elite Revolutionary Guards at a Shiite mosque in Zahedan, capital of the restive province of Sistan-Baluchestan.

It said the attacks were to avenge the execution of their leader Abdolmalek Rigi on June 20.

Parliament speaker Ali Larijani directly accused the United States for the bombings.

“Today, the country is mourning the tragic explosion in Zahedan which was done with the backing of Americans. Americans can’t come up with any excuse since they are connected with the Rigi group,” he said, quoted on the website.

Crowds of mourners gathered in Zahedan on Saturday for a mass funeral for the bombings’ victims. They assembled outside the city’s Jamia mosque where the bombers struck for a procession to the main cemetery.

“Those who committed these terrorist acts are neither Shiite nor Sunni,” read one banner carried by the mourners, while crowds chanted: “Death to terrorists,” the official IRNA news agency reported.

Tehran has long charged that Washington has provided support to the Rigi group as part of efforts to destabilise the Islamic regime by fomenting unrest among ethnic minorities in sensitive border areas.

But US President Barack Obama has condemned the “outrageous terrorist attacks,” while UN chief Ban Ki-moon blasted a “senseless act of terrorism” and EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton condemned “these cowardly terrorist attacks.”

Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar pointed the finger at Israel, Iran’s arch-foe.

“The terrorist act by the Zionists had a number of objectives, including creating division between Shiites and Sunnis,” the ISNA news agency quoted Najjar as saying.

He said Iran’s security and intelligence services now had “a grip on the situation.”

But MP Abbas Ali Noora from Sistan-Baluchestan resigned in protest at the handling of security in the province, saying such an attack was expected after the execution of Rigi.

“The culture of this region is of revenge. After Rigi’s execution, we had warned that this group would retaliate,” he told ILNA news agency. “We expected such retaliatory actions” on days linked to Shiite religious events.

Noora was the second lawmaker from the region to resign, following the example of Zahedan parliamentarian Hossein Ali Shahriari who stepped down shortly after the attack.

Thursday’s bombing came as Shiite worshippers were celebrating the birthday of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.

In a message to the people of Sistan-Baluchestan, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on “Sunni and Shiite Muslims to be patient and to maintain unity,” the Fars news agency reported.

Jundallah claims it is fighting for the rights of Baluchis who make up a significant proportion of the population of Sistan-Baluchestan province and who, unlike Iran’s Shiite majority, mainly follow the Sunni branch of Islam.

The province borders Afghanistan and Pakistan and analysts says Jundallah has exploited the unrest in the region to find safe haven on the frontier.

Source: SGGP

Russia serious about change, Medvedev tells West

In Uncategorized on June 18, 2010 at 12:21 pm

President Dmitry Medvedev promised the West on Friday that a “changing” Russia was serious about economic reform, saying it needed a boom in foreign investment to modernise its economy.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the annual International Economic Forum in Saint Petersburg on June 18, 2010.

“We are truly modernising Russia,” Medvedev, Russia’s third post-Soviet president, told business leaders in a keynote speech at the annual economic forum in its second city of Saint Petersburg.

“The changes take time but it will happen,” he declared in the former imperial capital founded by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703 to serve as Russia’s window to the West and to narrow its gap with the West.

“Russia understands the tasks ahead and is changing for itself and for the rest of the world,” said Medvedev.

Medvedev — who took over the Kremlin from his strongman predecessor Vladimir Putin in 2008 — has made modernisation a mantra of his presidency but has been criticised by economists for failing to follow rhetoric with actions.

In a surprise announcement warmly welcomed by the audience, Medvedev said that from 2011 Russia would abolish capital gains tax for long-term direct investment.

“Russia must become a country which attracts people from around the world to realise their dreams,” he said.

He also promised more relaxed visa policies for qualified foreign businessmen working in Russia and a strengthening of the legal basis for business in a country still blighted by corruption.

“Russia needs a genuine investment boom,” said Medvedev.

Medvedev announced he had signed a decree that would cut fivefold the number of firms deemed “strategic” and in which the state is obliged to own a stake, opening the way for broader participation of foreign companies in the country’s top companies.

Under Putin, Russia drew up a list of sectors, first and foremost energy, in which foreign participation is limited.

German Gref, ex-economy minister and now head of Russia’s largest bank Sberbank, said this was a crucial development as it showed the “state will gradually withdraw from direct participation in the economy”.

The Saint Petersburg Forum, sometimes dubbed “the Russian Davos” after the annual get-together in Switzerland, is Russia’s most important platform for showing off its economy to the world.

Medvedev asserted that Russia was emerging from the economic crisis with decent economic growth of around four percent in the first five months of 2010.

He also emphasized that the oil- and gas-rich country was being spared the budget crises currently besetting some European Union states, even if Russia had to tighten its belt.

“We have no problem with our sovereign debt. It is minimal,” said Medvedev.

But he added: “We do not have so much money in the budget for structural changes. What we have we can and must use in a different way — more effectively and result-orientated.”

The global financial crisis that broke in late 2008 prompted worries that Russia again risked an economic meltdown of the kind it endured in 1998 when it defaulted on sovereign debt.

The economy contracted 7.9 percent in 2009 but has now started moving into recovery, although economists warn it will take years for Russia to recover pre-crisis growth rates.

Source: SGGP

Canada to build water jets in West Lake

In Uncategorized on June 1, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Canada to build water jets in West Lake

QĐND – Tuesday, June 01, 2010, 22:13 (GMT+7)

The Hanoi People’s Committee on May 31st had a working session with Thang Long Xanh Company, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam and Karajaal to discuss an idea to build a fountain in WestLake.

The fountain in WestLake is a project that the Canadian Government proposed to build for Hanoi in the build-up to the 1,000th foundation anniversary of Thang Long – Hanoi.

Under the design, the project constists of a fan-shaped screen at 60 m in length and 30 m in width, 8 water jets arranged into S letter and a floating stage on the lake. Under the schedule, part of the project will be finished before the celebration.

According to Karajaal, the project will not damage the environment nor have a bad effect on wildlife in the lake. Moreover, lighting equipment and devices to be installed in the fountain will be power saving and environmental-friendly ones, the investors affirmed.

Source: HNM

Translated by Thu Nguyen      

Source: QDND

World Bank calls on Israel to ease West Bank restrictions

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2010 at 8:52 am

The World Bank warned on Monday that continued economic growth in the occupied West Bank would depend on Israel taking further steps to lift restrictions on movement.

Israeli border guards check Palestinian women?s IDs as they head to Jerusalem at a checkpoint in Bethlehem, 2009.(AFP)

“The fiscal position of the (Palestinian Authority) remains precarious. Despite evidence of economic growth in the West Bank, its sustainability remains in question,” the Bank said ahead of a donors conference in Madrid.

The warning came a day after the International Monetary Fund said the West Bank economy grew 8.5 percent in 2009 following Palestinian reforms, the easing of some restrictions, and nearly two billion dollars of foreign aid.

Both bodies have cautioned that those gains could be in danger if Israel does not remove more of the hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints it maintains in the West Bank, which it says are necessary for security.

The World Bank recommended “that continued easing of the economic restrictions on the West Bank, and lifting the Gaza blockade, remain a top priority for the government of Israel.

“Specifically, it urges unlocking of the economic potential of Area C in the West Bank,” it said, referring to the more than 60 percent of the territory that is under complete Israeli civil and military control.

It also urged the “liberalising of economic linkages with east Jerusalem,” which Israel seized in the 1967 Six Day War and annexed in a move not recognised internationally, and which the Palestinians view as their capital.

Both the World Bank and the IMF called for the lifting of sanctions on Gaza imposed after the Islamist Hamas movement seized power in June 2007, which have crippled the private sector and spawned an informal smuggling economy based on tunnels beneath the Gaza-Egypt border.

“All parties must bear in mind that economic integration of the West Bank and Gaza is critical to the viability of a Palestinian state in the medium and long terms,” World Bank regional vice president Shamshad Akhtar said.

“The current political and security uncertainty, as well as the movement restrictions, pose substantial impediments to the necessary integration of the Palestinian economy within the Middle East as well as globally.”

Source: SGGP

Six killed in Israeli operations in West Bank, Gaza

In World on December 26, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Israeli troops killed six Palestinians on Saturday in two separate operations, including a raid in the West Bank targeting members of president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah movement.

An Israeli soldier mans a watch tower equipped with a machine gun on the north side of the border with the Gaza Strip on December 26, 2009. (AFP Photo)

The incursion in the northern West Bank town of Nablus saw dozens of Israeli jeeps surround three houses in the historic Old City before troops barged in and shot three men, witnesses said.

The military said all three were militants who had killed an Israeli settler when they ambushed a car elsewhere in the West Bank on Thursday.

“Special forces killed three terrorists responsible for carrying out the shooting,” the military said in a statement, adding that one of the men, Anan Subuh, 36, was armed.

“When he was killed, (Subuh) was armed with a handgun and hiding two M-16 assault rifles, an additional handgun, and ammunition,” it said.

Family members said the troops entered without warning and killed the men in cold blood, insisting that none had resisted arrest or fired any shots.

Subuh was a member of Fatah’s armed wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, but had been granted amnesty by Israel. The other two men were party activists, according to a Palestinian security official who asked not to be named.

A woman was wounded during the operation, according to Palestinian medics.

Another three Palestinians were meanwhile killed in the Gaza Strip as they approached the security fence separating the Hamas-ruled territory from Israel.

An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed the Gaza strike, saying the men appeared to be trying to carry out an attack.

“Soldiers spotted the silhouettes of several men who were crawling towards the security fence and fired warning shots which were ignored,” she said.

“An air force unit opened fire on them and then discovered evidence on the ground that proved they wanted to carry out a terrorist attack,” she added.

According to medics and border guards of the Islamist Hamas movement, which controls Gaza, the three men were civilians scavenging for scrap metal near the security fence.

The uptick in violence in the West Bank comes after more than two years of relative calm during which Palestinian security forces loyal to Abbas have restored law and order in several former militant strongholds.

Nablus was a major militant bastion during the 2000 intifada, or uprising, but has more recently been held up as a model of calm and proof of the Palestinian Authority’s commitment to the peace process with Israel.

Israel has in turn scaled back operations in urban centres and lifted some of its hundreds of checkpoints and roadblocks to allow for greater freedom of movement, contributing to increased economic development.

Gaza, which Hamas seized from Abbas’s forces in June 2007, has also been relatively calm since a January 18 ceasefire ended a massive 22-day Israeli offensive aimed at halting Palestinian rocket attacks.

Some 1,400 Palestinian and 13 Israelis were killed and entire neighbourhoods were flattened in what was the deadliest Israeli offensive ever launched on the territory.


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Chelsea seek to consolidate lead at West Ham

In Vietnam Sports on December 20, 2009 at 4:36 am

Chelsea’s Frank Lampard (right) vies with Portsmouth’s Aaron Mokoena during their Premier League match at Stamford Bridge in London, on December 16. (AFP photo)

LONDON, Dec. 19 (AFP) – Fresh from putting Chelsea’s Premier League title drive back on track, Frank Lampard returns to West Ham this weekend admitting he fears for the future of his relegation-threatened former club.

Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola was one of Chelsea’s greatest ever players but that will not stop Lampard and co. from trying to push his second-from-bottom squad a little closer to the drop as they seek to consolidate their three-point lead over Manchester United at the other end of the table.

By the time Chelsea kick off at Upton Park on Sunday, United could be level with them on points provided Sir Alex Ferguson’s injury-hit squad collect all three points from their trip to Fulham 24 hours earlier.

Lampard, whose penalty clinched a nervy 2-1 win over Portsmouth in midweek, said: “It’s difficult for West Ham at the moment. They have a lot of financial difficulties and have had to sell a lot of players.

“I don’t want to see them do badly at all — it is difficult but then it is a difficult league.”

The win over Portsmouth’s was Chelsea’s first in five matches in all competitions but did little to suggest Carlo Ancelotti’s side have fully recovered the composure and confidence that has deserted them over the last few weeks, notably in their defending of set pieces.

Chelsea are hopeful that Didier Drogba, whose absence with a back injury was felt on Wednesday, will be available on Sunday. But it must be a concern for Ancelotti that the striker will depart for the African Nations Cup next month at a time when United traditionally hit their stride.

Lampard is acutely aware it was a mid-winter cocktail of injuries and lost form that ensured Chelsea conceded last season’s title to their rivals in the north.

“We had a really bad time around this time last year but when Guus Hiddink came in (as temporary manager) we were in the best form by far of anyone in the League. We can do that again.

“We’re having a patch at the moment where we’re not pulling away from teams when we might do and every free kick and corner seems to drop to them in a funny way.

“We are being punished every time and it is just a phase we’re in. We’re going 1-0 up and then not pushing on like we were a few games ago. It’s a problem.”

Ferguson is expected to deploy Belgian youngster Ritchie de Laet at centreback at Fulham, having been left with Patrice Evra as his only fit first-team defender.

“We just have to get on with it,” the Scot acknowledged. “Ritchie has showed some promise and he will probably be there on Saturday.”

Arsenal’s title hopes were hit by a 1-1 draw at Burnley in midweek and Arsene Wenger’s side entertain Hull on Saturday without injured skipper Cesc Fabregas.

It will be the Gunners’ third match in seven days while Hull have had since last Saturday to recover from their goalless draw with Blackburn, an anomaly of the fixture list that has infuriated Wenger.

“The guy who organised the fixtures this season must have come out of a special school, because he is more intelligent than I am,” the Frenchman sniped.

Aston Villa will look to consolidate their position in the top four at home to Stoke on Saturday while Tottenham, two points back in fifth spot following their win over Manchester City in midweek, travel to Blackburn.

Liverpool’s ability to overhaul Villa and Spurs will be tested by a trip to Portsmouth for a lunchtime fixture in which the first goal will set a new record.

Nets have bulged 499 times in 167 matches so far this season and a goal at Fratton Park would see the 500 milestone reached with 17 matches to spare compared to the previous Premier League record, set in 1994/95.

High-flying Birmingham face a tough task if they are to keep their five-match winning run going at Everton on Sunday, and Wolves fans will find out if manager Mick McCarthy’s controversial decision to rest most of his first-choice players against Manchester United in midweek was the right one.

Wolves take on Burnley in the kind of fixture McCarthy believes they must start winning if they are to get out of the bottom three.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

West should apologize to Russia for S.Ossetian war stance – envoy

In World on October 1, 2009 at 7:47 am

Some Western politicians should offer their apologies to Russia for saying it started the August 2008 armed conflict with Georgia, RIA-Novosti quoted Russia’s envoy to NATO as saying on Thursday.

Russian envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin

After an independent commission established that Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia was unjustifiable under the international law, some Western politicians “would have to make their apologies to Russia for dishing so many dirt on it” over the conflict, Dmitry Rogozin told reporters in Brussels.

The report on the Russia-Georgia war in August 2008 was commissioned by the Council of the European Union, and compiled by Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini, along with 30 European military, legal and history specialists. It puts the blame on Tbilisi for starting the conflict, but says that subsequent Russian actions “went far beyond the reasonable limits of defense” and also were “in violation of international law.”

Rogozin said that the report “for the first time confirmed Russia’s reports that Georgia committed aggression” against its former republic.

The Russian diplomat added that NATO secretary general’s initiatives of improving relations between Russia and NATO, which had been affected by the Russian-Georgian conflict, would be discussed during an informal meeting of the Russia-NATO council on October 5 in Brussels.

The Russia-NATO Council will convene at the level of ambassadors in November, he added. During the meeting, the participants would begin to assess common threats in the Euro-Atlantic region.

“We should give a realistic assessment to what poses a threat to our civilization and where do these hazards come from,” he said.

Russia and NATO would have to draft a roadmap for future bilateral cooperation to create guarantees on military conflict prevention, Rogozin added.

A senior Kremlin official, who refused to be identified, said earlier in the day that Rogozin’s statements on international issues “not always reflect Russia’s official position,” commenting on the envoy’s remarks on the recent shift in the U.S. missile plans in Europe.

The source said that Rogozin’s remarks on international issues that do not concern Russia-NATO relations “should often be viewed as an expert opinion.”

Source: SGGP