DELHI, March 17: "Desperately short"
of hydrocarbon resources, India on Friday sought
expansion of civil nuclear cooperation with
Russia and talked about the possibility of involving
Moscow in the India-Iran gas pipeline project.
has also thanked Russia for its decision to
supply urgently-needed 60 metric tonnes of uranium
to the Tarapur Atomic Plant Station (TAPS).
After about two-hour long talks with his Russian
counterpart Mikhail Fradkov, Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh said India envisioned a "substantial
increase" in the share of nuclear energy
in its overall energy mix and that he appreciated
Moscow's decision to supply uranium to the Tarapur
a joint press conference, Singh and Fradkov
said the two countries had set up a Joint Study
Group to enhance cooperation in trade and investment
with an aim of raising the bilateral trade volume
to US $10 billion by 2010.
also agreed to soon conclude an agreement allowing
investment of funds from the Rupee-Rouble debt
account in India. The two countries signed various
agreements, including two related to implementation
of cooperation in respect of the Global Satellite
Navigation System (GLONASS).
am confident that both countries will utilise
opportunities to expand our partnership in civil
nuclear energy cooperation," Singh said.
"I would like to convey our warm appreciation
to the Russian government for responding positively
to meet the requirements for nuclear fuel supplies
to Tarapur I and II," Singh said.
dead after bomb blast in Baghdad market
March 2: A bomb ripped through a vegetable market
in a Shiite section of Baghdad and a leading
Sunni politician escaped an attack on his convoy
Thursday as at least 36 people were killed in
unrelenting violence pushing Iraq towards civil
aide to Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, meanwhile,
lashed out at Sunni, Kurdish and secular political
leaders who have mounted a campaign to deny
him another term, saying the Shiite United Iraqi
alliance will not change its candidate.
canceled a meeting Thursday with top political
leaders after they launched their bid to unseat
him, raising a new hurdle in U.S.-backed talks
on an inclusive government, which already broke
down last week when Sunni parties pulled out
to protest attacks on Sunni mosques triggered
by the Feb. 22 bombing of a sacred Shiite shrine
in the central city of Samarra. Hundreds were
killed in the sectarian fury that followed.
al-Dulaimi, a leader of the Sunni's largest
parliamentary bloc, escaped the assassination
attempt Thursday because he already had sped
away from the scene in another vehicle in his
convoy after the car in which he had been riding
got a flat tire. Gunmen opened fire on the disabled
car, killing one of al-Dulaimi's bodyguards
and wounding five others. The politician said
he was not aware of the attack until he reached
attack occurred a day after it was revealed
that al-Dulaimi - one of Iraq's most prominent
moderate Sunnis - had joined with key Kurdish
and secular politicians in a coalition that
agreed to ask the main Shiite bloc to withdraw
al-Jaafari's nomination for prime minister and
put forward another candidate. Officials of
all three groups confirmed the plan but spoke
on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity
of the subject.
adviser Haider al-Ibadi accused the prime minister's
critics of trying to delay the formation of
a new government, telling The Associated Press:
"There are some elements who have personal
differences with al-Jaafari."
decision also drew sharp opposition from the
anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose
support enabled al-Jaafari to win the nomination
over Vice President Adil Abdul-Mahdi by a single
vote in a Feb. 12 caucus of Shiites who dominate
the new parliament. An official close to al-Sadr
described the attempt to remove al-Jaafari as
a "flagrant interference."
will not abandon al-Jaafari and this is the
right of the people who voted. None of the politicians
can impose their will on the people," the
official said on condition of anonymity because
of the sensitive nature of the political flap.
bombings in Baghdad kill 56
Feb 28: A series of suicide attacks, car bombs
and mortar barrages rocked Baghad on Tuesday,
killing at least 56 people and wounding scores
as Iraq teetered on the brink of sectarian civil
Bush decried the violence and said Iraqis must
choose between "chaos or unity." Iraqis
have suffered through days of reprisal killings
and attacks on Sunni mosques since bombers blew
apart the gold dome of the revered Shiite Askariya
shrine in Samarra on Wednesday. The Iraqi Cabinet
said at least 379 people had been killed and
458 wounded in reprisal attacks.
the latest attacks, two explosions hit Shiite
targets in northern Baghdad after sundown, killing
at least 15 people and wounding 72. Police officials
said either a car bomb or a mortar hit the Abdel
Hadi Chalabi mosque in the Hurriyah neighborhood,
killing 14 people and wounding 62. Mortar fire
at the Imam Kadhim shrine in the Kazimiyah neighborhood
on the opposite side of the Tigris River killed
one and wounded 10. A Sunni mosque in the Hurriyah
neighborhood had been bombed before dawn Tuesday.
Tuesday night attacks were clearly a continuation
of sectarian violence that erupted in the country
after a Shiite shrine was bombed in the predominantly
Sunni city of Samarra on Wednesday. Earlier,
five bomb attacks rattled the capital, killing
at least 41 and wounding scores.
Washington, Bush sidestepped a question about
whether the surge in sectarian violence would
affect his administration's hopes to begin withdrawing
U.S. troops. "Obviously there are some
who are trying to sow the seeds of sectarian
violence," Bush said. "And now, the
people of Iraq and their leaders must make a
choice. The choice is chaos or unity, the choice
is a free society, or a society dictated by
evil people who would kill innocents."
Vice President Dick Cheney challenged administration
critics during a speech at an American Legion
convention. "Here in Washington, if any
believe Americans should suddenly withdraw from
Iraq and stop fighting al-Qaida in the very
place they have gathered, let them say so clearly,"
Cheney said. "If any believe that Americans
should break our word and abandon our Iraqi
allies, let them make it known."
lauds Kalam's Pan African e-network initiative
DELHI, Feb 10: Addressing a gathering of all
African diplomatic Heads of Mission in New Delhi,
Minister of State for External Affairs Anand
Sharma today drew special attention to President
APJ Abdul Kalam's initiative to establish a
Pan African e-network, which would help African
countries in bridging the digital divide.
the assistance provided to a number of countries
in Africa under the Indian Technical and Economic
Cooperation (ITEC) and aid to Africa Programmes,
Sharma emphasized on the need to develop a regular
India-African Union dialogue and to create an
appropriate institutional structure for it.
Ambassadors, High Commissioners and other senior
representatives of all major countries attended
the Minister for his initiative to host this
interaction with African diplomats so soon after
assumption of office, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem
Mohammad, Ambassador of Sudan and Dean of African
diplomats acknowledged Sharma's unflinching
commitment to Africa. The UPA Government, he
said, deserved compliments for this brilliant
appointment, which had sent an extremely positive
signal to Africa about the importance that India
attached to its ties with the continent.
was genuinely appreciative of all the help that
it had received from India during its struggle
against colonialism. It was also grateful for
India's multifaceted assistance to Africa's
economic development," Abdalmahmood said,
adding that Kalam's Pan African e-network Project
would emerge as a major new landmark since this
was the first time that any country had attempted
to reach out to all countries in the African
continent through a single initiative.
emphasized that this project could have an enormous
impact on Africa's efforts to bridge the digital
divide in the critical areas of education and
healthcare. He also applauded the important
role being played by Lines of Credit extended
by India to Sudan and to a number of other countries
in Africa to enable them to bridge the financial
gap for important projects.
Iran tells nuke agency to remove cameras
Feb 7: Iran has told the International Atomic
Energy Agency to remove surveillance cameras
and agency seals from sites and nuclear equipment
by the end of next week in response to referral
to the UN Security Council, according to agency
reports. Iran's demands came two days after
the IAEA reported Tehran to the council over
its disputed atomic program.
a confidential report to the IAEA's 35-member
board on Monday, agency head Mohamed ElBaradei
said Iran also announced a sharp reduction in
the number and kind of IAEA inspections, effective
immediately. Iranian officials had repeatedly
warned they would stop honoring the so-called
"Additional Protocol" to the Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty - an agreement giving
IAEA inspectors greater authority - if the IAEA
board referred their country to the council.
diplomat close to the Vienna-based IAEA said
that Iran had also moved forward on another
threat - formally setting a date for resuming
full-scale work on its uranium enrichment program.
Iran says it wants to make fuel through enrichment,
but the activity can also generate the nuclear
core of warheads. The diplomat, who spoke on
condition of anonymity because the matter was
confidential, refused to divulge the date.
G. Joseph, the U.S. undersecretary of state
for arms control, said Monday that Iran used
negotiations with the European Union to play
for time and develop its capabilities.
would say that Iran does have the capability
to develop nuclear weapons and the means to
deliver them," he said in a response to
a question. In Dubai, United Arab Emirates,
Secretary-General Kofi Anan said he was still
hopeful that Iran will take confidence-building
measures with the IAEA.
not the end of the road," Annan said of
the Security Council referral. "I hope
that in between, Iran will take steps that will
help create an environment and confidence-building
measures that will bring the partners back to
the negotiating table."
his brief report, ElBaradei cited E. Khalilipour,
vice president of the Atomic Energy Organization
of Iran, as saying: "From the date of this
letter, all voluntarily suspended non-legally
binding measures including the provisions of
the Additional Protocol and even beyond that
will be suspended."
on the agency to sharply reduce the number of
inspectors in Iran, Khalilipour added: "the
entire Agency's containment and surveillance
measures which were in place beyond the normal
Agency safeguards measures should be removed
by mid-February 2006."
Russia's foreign minister warned against threatening
Iran after Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld
reportedly agreed with an interviewer at the
German daily newspaper Handelsblatt that all
options, including military response, remained
on the table.
Minister Sergey Lavrov called for talks to continue
with Tehran, adding: "I think that at the
current stage, it is important not to make guesses
about what will happen and even more important
not to make threats."
Sen. Richard Lugar, Chairman of the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, urged the Security Council
to impose strict sanctions on Iran if it fails
to comply with U.N. resolutions and arms agreements
and warned that inaction would greatly increase
the chances of military conflict. He nonetheless
stressed that the United States favors a diplomatic
solution. "Diplomatic and economic confrontations
are preferable to military ones," Lugar
said. But he cautioned that "in the field
of nonproliferation, decisions delayed over
the course of months and years may be as harmful
as no decisions at all."
Additional Protocol was signed by Iranian officials
in 2003 as pressure intensified on Tehran to
cooperate with IAEA inspectors probing more
than 18 years of clandestine nuclear activities.
The protocol gives the agency inspecting powers
beyond normal, allowing for inspections on short
notice of areas and programs suspected of being
misused for weapons activity.
Korea - the world's other major proliferation
concern - quit the Nonproliferation Treaty in
January 2003, just a few months before U.S.
officials announced that Pyongyang had told
them it had nuclear weapons and may test, export
or use them depending on U.S. actions.
officials have repeatedly said they will continue
honoring the Nonproliferation Treaty. Still,
the agreements linked to that treaty are insufficient
for agency inspectors trying to establish whether
Iran has had a secret nuclear arms program.
Iran relents, the move to curtail voluntary
cooperation means that ElBaradei will be stymied
in trying to close the Iran nuclear file by
March. And that could backfire on Tehran.
and China agreed to Security Council referral
on condition that the council take no action
until March, when the IAEA board next meets.
But if ElBaradei reports to that March 6 meeting
that he was unable to make progress in establishing
whether Iran constitutes a nuclear threat, the
council will likely start to pressure Iran,
launching a process that could end in sanctions
refers Iran to UNSC
DELHI/ VIENNA, Feb 5: India has voted in favour
of a resolution, moved at the UN nuclear watchdog
agency reporting Iran to the UN Security Council,
which expressed concern that Tehran's nuclear
programme may not be exclusively for peaceful
by India and 26 other countries, the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported Iran to
the UN Security Council. The 35-nation IAEA
Board's decision sets the stage for future action
by the top U.N. body that could include economic
and political sanctions. Still, any such moves
were weeks if not months away, with two permanent
council members, Russia and China, agreeing
to referral only on condition that no council
action be taken until at least March.
European resolution backed by the United States
calling for referral was backed by 27 nations,
including India, whose stance on referral was
unclear until the vote, at the meeting. Only
three nations - Cuba, Syria and Venezuela -
voted against. Five others - Algeria, Belarus,
Indonesia, Libya and South Africa abstained.
resolution links the decision to ask for Tehran's
referral to the country's breaches of the nuclear
non-proliferation treaty and lack of confidence
that it is not trying to make weapons. The resolution
expresses ``serious concerns about Iran's nuclear
programme.'' It recalls ``Iran's many failures
and breaches of its obligations'' to the nonproliferation
treaty. And it expresses ``the absence of confidence
that Iran's nuclear programme is exclusively
for peaceful purposes.''
requests IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei
to ``report to the Security Council'' steps
Iran needs to take to dispel suspicions about
its nuclear ambitions. Agreement on the final
wording of the text was achieved only overnight,
just hours before the meeting convened, after
Washington compromised on a dispute with Egypt
over linking fears about Tehran's atomic programme
to a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass
destruction an indirect reference to Israel.
decision as "well-balanced". A spokesman
of the External Affairs Ministry said "We
call upon Iran to respond positively to requests
from the IAEA board to restore the confidence-building
measures... and continue to cooperate with the
IAEA in resolving any outstanding issues."
Defending the vote, he said, it shouldn't impinge
on 'friendly' relations with Iran, stressing
that India had worked to secure yet another
breather for Iran.
vote was closely watched in Washington. Analysts
say it should ease passage of any forthcoming
legislation on a US-India nuclear pact through
an Iran-phobic US Congress. The spokesman said
the resolution has won six weeks for Iran, before
a March 6 IAEA meeting, "for diplomatic
efforts to continue and to get negotiations
between the EU-3 and Iran back on track".
also provides an opportunity for Iran to consider
anew the Russian proposal for a joint venture
with Iran for uranium enrichment. However, in
the build-up to the vote, Iran's top nuclear
negotiator had spurned the offer for fuel enrichment
in Russia as redundant.
1,000 on Egyptian ferry feared dead
(Egypt), Feb 4: An aging ferry sank in the choppy
waters of the Red Sea on Friday with more than
1,400 people on board, mainly Egyptian workers
returning from Saudi Arabia. Most were feared
lost, but at least 324 apparently made it to
said fire broke out on board the ship early
in its trip. Transportation Minister Mohammed
Lutfy Mansour told reporters early Saturday
that the fire was "small" and that
investigators were working to determine whether
it was linked to the sinking. He said there
was no explosion on the vessel.
the Egyptian port of Hurghada, nearly 140 survivors
arrived early Saturday the first significant
group to come to shore. They walked off the
ship down a ramp, some of them barefoot and
shivering, wrapped in blankets, and immediately
boarded buses to take them to the hospital.
Many said the fire began between 90 minutes
and 2 1/2 hours after the ship's departure,
but that it kept going and the fire burned for
fire happened about an hour or 90 minutes into
the trip, but they decided to keep going. It's
negligence," one survivor, Nabil Zikry,
said before he was moved along by police, who
tried to keep the survivors from talking to
journalists. Ahmed Elew, an Egyptian in his
20s, said he reported the fire to the ship's
crew and they told him to help with the water
hoses to put it out. At one point there was
an explosion, he said.
the ship began sinking, Elew said he jumped
into the water and swam for several hours. He
said he saw one overloaded lifeboat overturn.
He eventually got into another lifeboat. "Around
me people were dying and sinking," he said.
"Who is responsible for this?" he
asked. "Somebody did not do their job right."
of the survivors shouted their anger that the
rescue had taken so long. "They left us
in the water for 24 hours. A helicopter came
above us and circled, we would signal and they
ignored us," one man shouted. "Our
lives are the cheapest in the world," another
spokesman for President Hosni Mubarak said the
ferry did not have enough lifeboats, and questions
were raised about the safety of the 35-year-old,
refitted ship that was weighed down with 220
cars as well as the passengers. "It's a
roll-on, roll-off ferry, and there is big question
mark over the stability of this kind of ship,"
said David Osler of the London shipping paper
Lloyds List. "It would only take a bit
of water to get on board this ship and it would
be all over. ... The percentage of this type
of ferry involved in this type of disaster is
may also have been a factor. There were high
winds and a sandstorm overnight on Saudi Arabia's
west coast. Officials said more than 185 bodies
were recovered while hundreds remained missing
in the dark, chilly sea nearly 24 hours after
the ship went down. One lifeboat was spotted
from a helicopter during the day bobbing in
the waves with what appeared to be a dozen or
efforts appeared confused. Egyptian officials
initially turned down a British offer to divert
a warship to the scene and a U.S. offer to send
a P3-Orion maritime naval patrol aircraft to
the area. Then Egypt reversed itself and asked
for both then finally decided to call
off the British ship, deciding it was too far
away to help, said Lt. Cdr. Charlie Brown of
the U.S. 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain. In the
end, the U.S. craft which has the capability
to search underwater from the air was
sent, but the British ship was not, he said.
Egyptian rescue ships reached the scene Friday
afternoon, about 10 hours after the ferry likely
went down some 57 miles off the Egyptian port
of Hurghada. Any survivors still in the Red
Sea could go into shock in the waters, which
average in the upper 60s in February and are
up to 3,000 feet deep.
ship, "Al-Salaam Boccaccio 98," which
was also carrying about 220 vehicles, left Thursday
at 7:30 p.m. from the Saudi port of Dubah on
a 120-mile trip to the Egyptian port of Safaga,
south of Hurghada. It had been scheduled to
arrive at Safaga at 3 a.m. The vessel went down
between midnight and 2 a.m., when authorities
lost contact with it. No distress signal was
received. About 1,400 passengers, along with
a crew of 98, were on board, said Awad.
passengers included about 1,200 Egyptians, as
well as 99 Saudis, three Syrians, two Sudanese,
and a Canadian, officials said. It was not clear
where the other passengers were from. Some of
them were probably Muslim pilgrims who had overstayed
their visas after last month's hajj pilgrimage
to work in the kingdom. The agent for the ship
in Saudi Arabia, Farid al-Douadi, said the vessel
had the capacity for 2,500 passengers. The cause
of the sinking was not immediately known, but
there were high winds and a sandstorm overnight
on Saudi Arabia's west coast.
Security Council to review Iran nuke case
Jan 31: The United States and other permanent
members of the UN Security Council agreed Tuesday
that Iran should be hauled before that powerful
body over its disputed nuclear program.
and Russia, longtime allies and trading partners
of Iran, signed on to a statement that calls
on the U.N. nuclear watchdog to transfer the
Iran dossier to the Security Council, which
could impose sanctions or take other harsh action.
ministers from those nations, plus the United
States, Britain and France, also said the Security
Council should wait until March to take up the
Iran case, after a formal report on Tehran's
activities from the watchdog agency.
of State Condoleeza Rice and other foreign ministers
discussed Iran at a private dinner at the home
of British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. After
the four-hour meeting, which spilled over into
the early hours Tuesday, a joint statement called
on the International Atomic Energy Agency to
report the Iran case when it meets in Vienna
ministers from Germany and the European Union
also attended the dinner and agreed to what
amounted to a compromise - take the case to
the Security Council but allow a short breather
before the council must undertake what could
be a divisive debate.
group agreed that the IAEA "should report
to the Security Council its decision on the
steps required of Iran, and should also report
to the Security Council all IAEA reports as
resolutions as adopted relating to this issue,"
a statement from the group said.
IAEA has already found Iran in violation of
nuclear obligations and issued a stern warning
to Tehran in September. Thursday's vote would
be the next step, one long sought by the United
insists its nuclear program is intended only
to produce electricity. The United States and
some allies say Iran is hiding ambitions to
build a nuclear bomb, but the Security Council
members have been divided aout how strong a
line to take.
is still not clear how Russia and China would
vote if the questions of sanctions came before
the Security Council. It is also not clear that
the United States will win the broad international
consensus it seeks when the IAEA votes
under Musharraf a 'failed' democracy: Nawaz Sharif
Jan 30: Describing Pakistan under President Pervez
Musharraf as a "failed democracy" being
ruled by a few guard than its people, exiled Prime
Minister Nawaz Sharif accused the General of mortifying
the nation's name with in the global community.
a hurriedly called press conference after arrival
at Heathrow airport in London on Sunday, Sharif
held that General Musharraf had degraded Pakistan's
name in the world. Asserting that Pakistan under
Musharraf was a failed democracy, Sharif said
he has to "decide today whether Pakistan
is going to be ruled by its people or by a few
Sharif condemned the 13th January US air-strike
that killed at least 13 civilians along the Pakistani-Afghan
frontier, where al-Qaeda terror network's chief
Osama bin Laden, his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri
are thought to be hiding.
It was Sharif's first trip to UK since he went
into exile in Saudi Arabia in 2000. He is visiting
his twenty eight year old ailing son Hassan, who
is being treated for an undisclosed illness.
Musharraf had ousted Sharif in a military coup
in 1999 and sent him to jail. Sharif was allowed
to go into exile in Saudi Arabia in 2000. The
former PM refused to talk about his exile in Saudi
Arabia and the corruption and terrorism charges
brought against him in his country. He also said
his party, Pakistan Muslim League, would not cooperate
Hamas election victory shocks world
Jan 27: Islamic militant Hamas' landslide victory
in Palestinian elections unnerved the world Thursday,
darkening prospects for Mideast peace and ending
four decades of rule by the Fatah Party.
parliamentary victory stunned even Hamas leaders,
who mounted a well-organized campaign but have
no experience in government. They offered to share
power with President Mahmoud Abbas, the Fatah
chief, who said he may go around the new government
to talk peace with Israel.
the tensions between the secular Fatah and fundamentalist
Hamas, some 3,000 supporters of the militant group
marched through Ramallah and raised their party's
green flag over the Palestinian parliament. Fatah
supporters tried to lower the banner. The two
sides fought for about 30 minutes, throwing stones
and breaking windows in the building. Abbas, who
was elected last year to a four-year term as president
of the Palestinian Authority, has yet to decide
how closely to work with a group that built its
clout through suicide bombings. But his Fatah
Party decided not to join a Hamas government,
Fatah legislator Saab Erekat said. "We will
be a loyal opposition and rebuild the party,"
Erekat said after meeting with Abbas.
won a clear majority in Wednesday's vote, capturing
76 of the 132 seats in parliament, according to
official, near-complete results released Thursday.
The results of the popular vote were not announced.
Four independent candidates backed by Hamas also
won seats. Fatah, which has dominated Palestinian
political life since the 1960s but alienated voters
because of rampant corruption, got 43 seats. The
remaining went to smaller parties. Palestinians
across the Gaza Strip and West Bank greeted the
election results with joy, setting off fireworks
and firing rifles in the air.
leaders across the world demanded that Hamas,
which is branded a terror group by the U.S. and
European Union, renounce violence and recognize
Israel. "If your platform is the destruction
of Israel, it means you're not a partner in peace,
and we're interested in peace," President
Bush said in Washington.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel
will not negotiate with a Palestinian government
that includes Hamas members, and senior Cabinet
officials held an emergency meeting to discuss
the repercussions of the vote. Acting Foreign
Minister Tzipi Livni asked the EU not to deal
with a "terror government."
leaders immediately took to the international
- and even Israeli - airwaves to send out a moderate
message. "Don't be afraid," Ismail Haniyeh,
a Hamas leader, told the BBC.
Mahmoud Zahar, another Hamas leader, said the
group would extend its year-old truce if Israel
reciprocates. "If not, then I think we will
have no option but to protect our people and our
land," he said.
a victory news conference late Thursday, however,
Haniyeh said Hamas will "complete the liberation
of other parts of Palestine." He did not
say which territories he was referring to or how
he would go about it. Hamas has largely adhered
to the cease-fire declared last February, while
a smaller militant group, Islamic Jihad, carried
out six suicide bombings against Israelis during
said he remained committed to peace talks and
suggested they be conducted through the Palestine
Liberation Organisation rather than the Palestinian
Authority. That could help him sidestep a Hamas-run
government in peace talks. "I am committed
to implementing the program on which you elected
me a year ago," he said in a televised speech.
"It is a program based on negotiations and
peaceful settlement with Israel."
Minister Ahmed Qureia and his Cabinet resigned
to make room for a Hamas-led government. The Islamic
group quickly reached out to Abbas to try to work
out a partnership, Haniyeh said, adding that he
did not expect the Palestinian leader to resign.
leaders had said before the vote they would be
content to be a junior partner in the next government.
The group campaigned mainly on cleaning up the
Palestinian Authority - downplaying the conflict
with Israel - and Zahar said Thursday that Hamas
planned to overhaul the government. "We are
going to change every aspect, as regards the economy,
as regards industry, as regards agriculture, as
regards social aid, as regards health, administration,
education," he said.
experts believed the Hamas victory would force
it to moderate. Others feared it would embolden
the group to remake Palestinian life in keeping
with its strict interpretation of Islam.
"We don't want the Palestinian people and
cause to be isolated. We don't want a theocracy,"
said independent lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi. "Hamas
promises reform, sure they will do that, I would
like to see reform. But what worries me is things
like legislation on education, culture, social
welfare, the ramifications for peace in the future."
victory was cheered in the Arab world, though
many said they feared the group would become even
more radical under pressure from its hard-line
backers, Syria and Iran.
rise of Hamas was certain to be a key issue in
Israel's March 28 election. "Today, Hamastan
was formed, a representative of Iran and in the
image of the Taliban," said Benjamin Netanyahu,
leader of the opposition Likud Party. Labor Party
politician Ami Ayalon, a former head of the Shin
Bet security service, said Israel might have to
change the route of its West Bank security barrier
because of the Hamas victory.
victory virtually ruled out a resumption of stalled
peace efforts, and could push Israel to take further
unilateral moves to set its permanent borders,
following last year's Gaza pullout.
It also could jeopardize hundreds of millions
of dollars in foreign donations to the cash-strapped
at a news conference, Bush did not directly answer
a question about the fate of U.S. aid to the Palestinians,
though he suggested Hamas' victory could have
an impact. "I made it very clear that the
United States does not support political parties
that want to destroy our ally Israel, and that
people must renounce that part of their platform,"
of State Condoleezza Rice is to meet in London
on Monday with U.N., Russian and European leaders
as the so-called "Quartet" of would-be
international peacemakers evaluates the results
and tries to decide how to proceed.
Quartet reiterates its view that there is a fundamental
contradiction between armed group and militia
activities and the building of a democratic state,"
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.
"A two-state solution to the conflict requires
all participants in the democratic process to
renounce violence and terror, accept Israel's
right to exist, and disarm, as outlined in the
will be almost impossible for Israel and the Palestinians
to sever ties completely. Much of their infrastructure,
including water and electricity networks, is intertwined,
and the vast majority of Palestinian imports pass
through Israeli-controlled borders. Hamas ministers
would also need Israeli permission to travel between
the West Bank and Gaza
345 killed in Hajj stampede
(Saudi Arabia), Jan 12: Thousands of Muslim pilgrims rushing to complete a symbolic
stoning ritual during the hajj tripped over luggage Thursday, causing a crush
in which at least 345 people were killed, the Interior Ministry said.
stampede occurred as tens of thousands of pilgrims headed toward al-Jamarat, a
series of three pillars representing the devil that the faithful pelt with stones
to purge themselves of sin. Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki
said 345 people were killed. More than 1,000 people were injured, said Dr. Abbasi
with the Saudi Red Crescent.
from the scene showed lines of bodies laid out on stretchers on the pavement and
covered with sheets. Ahmed Mustafa, an Egyptian pilgrim, said he saw bodies taken
away in refrigerator trucks. An Egyptian pilgrim, Suad Abu Hamada, heard screaming
and "saw people jumping over each other. She said "The bodies were piled
up. I couldn't count them, they were too many."
site is a notorious bottleneck for the massive crowds that attend the annual hajj
pilgrimage and has seen deadly stampedes in the past, including one in 1990 that
killed 1,426 people and another in February 2004 that killed 244. The latest crush
came despite Saudi attempts to ease the flow of traffic around al-Jamarat. This
year's hajj was marred by the Jan. 5 collapse of a building being used as a pilgrims'
hotel that killed 76 people in Mecca.
stampede happened as pilgrims were rushing to complete the last of three days
of the stoning ritual before sunset, Interior Ministry spokesman Maj.
Gen. Mansour al-Turki, said. Some of the pilgrims began to trip over dropped luggage,
causing a large pileup, he said. Many pilgrims carry their personal effects with
them as they move between the various stages of the hajj.
said 345 people were killed. State-run Saudi television Al-Ekhbariyah reported
that most of the victims were from South Asia. The pillars are located on a large
pedestrian bridge, the width of an eight-lane highway over the desert plain of
Mina outside the holy city of Mecca. Four ramps lead up the bridge to give pilgrims
access to the site, and the stampede occurred at the base of one ramp.
General Hospital, a small facility several hundred yards from the site, was filled
with injured, and some victims were sent to hospitals in Mecca and Riyadh, said
Ismail Abdul-Zaher, a doctor at the hospital. Ambulances and police cars streamed
into the area, and security forces tried to move pilgrims away from part of the
site, though thousands continued with the ritual.
stampede took place despite Saudi efforts to improve traffic at the site, where
all 2.5 million pilgrims participating in the annual hajj move from pillar to
pillar to throw their stones, then exit.
authorities replaced the small round pillars with short walls to allow more people
to throw their stones without jostling for position. They also recently widened
the bridge, built extra ramps and increased the time pilgrims can carry out the
rite which on the second and final days traditionally takes place from
midday until sunset.
Muslim clerics have issued religious edicts allowing pilgrims to start the ritual
in the morning, and many Shiites from Iraq, Iran, Bahrain, Lebanon and Pakistan
took advantage to go early in the day. "This is much better. We are now done
with the stoning before the crowd gets larger," an Iranian pilgrim, Azghar
Meshadi, said hours before the stampede.
Saudi Arabia's Sunni Muslim clerics, who follow the fundamentalist Wahhabi interpretation
of Islam, encouraged pilgrims to stick to the midday rule.
stoning ritual is one of the last events of the hajj pilgrimage to Islam's holiest
sites, which able-bodied Muslims with the financial means are required by their
faith to do at least once.
pilgrims had already finished the stoning ritual Thursday and had gone back to
Mecca to carry out a farewell circuit around the Kaaba, the black stone cube that
Muslims face when they do their daily prayers.
Sharon still improving, doctors stunned by recovery
AVIV, Jan 12: Ariel Sharon's chief surgeon said the Israeli leader had appeared
aware of his younger son at his bedside on Wednesday, and expressed astonishment
at his powers of recovery after a massive stroke.
77-year-old prime minister, whose fate is crucial to Israel and the wider West
Asia, remains in intensive care but doctors said they had been able to all but
stop the drugs that had been keeping him in an artificial coma. His chief surgeon
Felix Umansky told a news-agency it could take months to assess the full extent
of the damage Sharon has suffered.
his progress so far had defied all expectations, Umansky said, amid suggestions
by some of the prime minister's allies that he could even lead his new Kadima
party at a March general election.
growing hopes that Sharon would win his fight for life prompted Israeli politicians
to abandon the uneasy truce they had observed out of respect for the stricken
right-wing Likud which Sharon quit last year announced it was pulling its remaining
ministers out of the caretaker government while the centre-left Labour party declared
its election campaign up and running. Umansky said Sharon was already moving "his
four limbs" and showing stronger responses to stimulation.
is a very strong person. If someone had told me this was going to happen a week
ago, I wouldn't have believed it," he told a news-agency. Later
he said the prime minister had even appeared to respond to words of encouragement
from his younger son Gilad.
130 dead in series of attacks in Iraq
Jan 5: Suicide bombers targeted Shiite pilgrims in the south and police recruits
in central Iraq,
and a roadside bomb killed five U.S. soldiers, bringing Thursday's death toll
to at least 130 people in a series of attacks as politicians tried to form a coalition
two-day toll from insurgent attacks rose to 183, reflecting a dramatic upsurge
in bloodshed following the December 15 parliamentary elections. Some leading Sunni
politicians accuse the Shiite-led government of condoning fraud in the voting.
prime minister denounced the violence as an attempt to derail the political process
at a time when progress was being made toward including the Sunnis in a new, broad-based
government and thereby weakening the Sunni-led insurgency.
Iraq's largest Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in
Iraq, blamed the violence on Sunni Arab groups that fared poorly in the elections.
SCIRI warned that Shiite patience was wearing thin, and it accused the US-led
coalition forces of restraining the Iraqi army and its police forces.
death toll the largest single-day total since September 14, when 112 died,
and one of the bloodiest days in the three-year insurgency included the
death of five American soldiers killed by a roadside bomb while patrolling the
Baghdad area, the U.S. military said.
Iraqi police Capt. Rahim Slaho said the U.S. convoy was heading for the Shiite
holy city of Karbala when it was attacked 15 miles south of the city, and five
soldiers were killed. At least 2,188 members of the U.S. military have died since
the war began, according to an Associated Press count.
suicide blast near the Imam Hussein shrine in central Karbala, 50 miles south
of Baghdad, killed 63 people and injured 120, Karbala police spokesman Rahman
Meshawi said. The bomber appeared to have blown himself up about 30 yards from
the shrine in a busy pedestrian area surrounded by shops.
Ramadi, a U.S. spokesman said dozens were killed when a suicide bomber attacked
a line of about 1,000 police recruits. Marine Capt. Jeffrey S. Pool initially
put the death toll at about 30, but Mohammed al-Ani, a doctor at Ramadi General
Hospital, later said 56 people were killed and 60 injured. The attack took place
at a police screening center in Ramadi, an insurgent stronghold 70 miles west
of Baghdad. Pool said recruits later got back in line to continue the screening
other violence Thursday, a suicide car bomb killed three Iraqi soldiers in Baghdad,
Lt. Col. Thamir al-Gharawi said, and gunmen killed three people in separate incidents,
police said, raising Thursday's death toll to 110.
Annan noted that the "horrendous crime" was the latest in a series of
increasingly violent attacks after the December 15 elections, and he called on
Iraqis not to undermine the democratic process.
results from the elections should be released within two weeks, and they are expected
to show the United Iraqi Alliance winning about 130 of parliament's 275 seats.
That figure is well short of the 184 needed to form a government.
concern over Balochistan violence
DELHI/ ISLAMABAD, Dec 27: India has expressed concern over the spiralling violence
in Balochistan and the heavy military action, including the use of helicopter
gunships and jet fighters by the Government of Pakistan to quell it.
A spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs Ministry said "We hope that the
Government of Pakistan will exercise restraint and take recourse to peaceful discussions
to address the grievances of the people of Balochistan."
the Pakistan Opposition parties in the Senate have called for an immediate end
to the crackdown in Balochistan and the start of a dialogue with Baloch leaders
on the second day of an uproarious debate on the troubled province, according
to a report from Islamabad.
With a few exceptions from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League, most speakers on
Monday, which was marked by heated exchanges, blamed a perceived long-standing
sense of deprivation in Balochistan for the present law and order situation.
Several senators drew comparisons between the present use of force in Balochistan
and the events in former East Pakistan that led to the 1971 secession and accused
the government of failing to learn a lesson from history.
There was a pandemonium when PML's chief whip Kamil Ali Agha and Sanaullah Baloch
of the Balochistan National Party (Mengal) exchanged hot and some abusive words,
provoking shouting and protests from both sides.
The situation calmed down after opposition leader Raza Rabbani offered regrets
from his side and PML Senator Mohammad Akram, who was presiding over the house
after chairman Mohammedmian Soomro left the chamber, expunged objectionable remarks
from both sides from the record of the proceedings.
Mohammad Aslam Buledi of the Balochistan National Movement accused security agencies
of resorting to carpet bombing by air force jets and using gunship helicopters
and poison gas in the present operations in the Kohlu district and warned the
government that it would be responsible for the consequences.
Dr Safdar Abbasi of the People's Party Parliamentarians (PPP) accused President
Pervez Musharraf of creating inter-provincial disharmony contrary to his pledge
to promote the same and plunging the country into such a dangerous situation the
likes of which the country had not seen under any ruler after former president
Gen Yahya Khan.
But PML Senators Ayaz Khan Mandokhel and Ms Pari Gul Agha praised the policies
of President Musharraf, crediting him with what they called unprecedented development
work in Balochistan and defended the crackdown launched after some elements fired
rockets at Kohlu when the president was on a visit there on Dec 14 and hit a helicopter
with machinegun fire the next day wounding the inspector-general of the Frontier
Corps and his deputy.
Prof Ghafoor Ahmed of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal called for an end to the use
of force, engaging Baloch leaders in a "meaningful dialogue" and allowing genuine
provincial autonomy to Balochistan.
Mohammad Abbas Komaili of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a ruling coalition partner,
said the present operation in Balochistan should be ended, violence should stop
from both sides and dialogue should be held with "genuine leadership" in the province.
PML-N's parliamentary leader Ishaq Dar said the use of force would not succeed,
adding it had failed in the former East Pakistan and called for the implementation
of the report of a parliamentary committee on Balochistan and announcement of
the National Finance Commission award to improve the situation.
blast heard in Iraq as polls open
Dec 15: Polling stations opened around Iraq Thursday to allow Iraqis to vote in
a historic parliamentary election that the U.S. hopes will build democracy and
lay the groundwork for American troops.
large explosion was head in downtown Baghdad within minutes of the polls opening
and sirens could be heard inside the heavily fortified Green Zone where the Iraqi
government and the U.S. and British embassies are located. Police said the explosion
apparently was caused by a mortar landing near the Green Zone.
Racial riots hit Sydney, 31 injured
Dec 12: Racially motivated rioting hit Sydney beachside suburbs, after thousands
of white youths attacked police and people of Middle Eastern appearance at the