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2.14.05 Bomb leaves Makati financial district in Philippines in chaos
Manila, Philippines, Feb. 14 (AFP) The mangled and burnt bodies of three passengers lay uncollected and smouldering in the Philippines' smart financial district of Makati on Monday in the wake of a Valentine's Day bomb attack blamed on Muslim militants. Grey smoke and the smell of explosives hung thick in the humid air, as wailing police and rescue trucks struggled to get through a huge crowd of shoppers scrambling to escape after a bomb ripped through a packed bus.
2.14.05 25 killed, 194 trapped in coal mine explosion in China
BEIJING: At least 25 miners were killed and nearly 200 others trapped underground after a coal mine gas explosion Monday in northeast China, said sources. [jang.com.pk]
2.14.05 Ex-Lebanaese PM Hariri killed in Beirut motorcade blast
Former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri was killed Monday when a massive explosion targeted his motorcade as it traveled through Beirut. Initial reports suggested that he had been wounded in the blast. His death was later confirmed by the Al-Mustaqbal television station, which Hariri owned. At least nine other people were killed in the blast along the city's famed sea front boulevard. Those killed included at least one of his bodyguards, witnesses said.
2.14.05 Syrian military intelligence eliminates Hariri and reform hopes for Lebanon
Feb. 14 (Debkafile) Rafiq Hariri, five times Lebanese prime minister, multi billionaire, builder of a country devastated by 15 years of civil war, was assassinated by a huge car bomb that ravaged the Lebanese capitalıs sea front. Two ministers in his party and 6 of his bodyguards, including its chief Yahya Al Arb, were among the dead. Efforts to save his life at the American Hospital to which he was carried in critical condition were unavailing. The attack is described as the most brutal since the civil conflict ended in 1991.
2.14.05 Missile defense test fails
WASHINGTON, Feb. 14 (AP) A test of the national missile defense system (search) failed Monday when an interceptor missile did not launch from its island base in the Pacific Ocean, the military said. It was the second failure in months for the experimental program. A statement from the Missile Defense Agency (search) said the cause of the failure was under investigation. A spokesman for the agency, Rick Lehner, said the early indications was that there was a malfunction with the ground support equipment at the test range on Kwajalein Island (search), not with the interceptor missile itself. [More>>foxnews.com via topix.net]
2.14.05 Iran welcomes Indian firms in developing South Pars field
NEW DELHI, Feb. 14 (PTI) Iran is open to partnering Indian oil firms in development of offshore gas field in southern Iran which will export gas to India through an on land pipeline passing through Pakistan. "We very much welcome Indian companies to participate in the development" of one of the phases of gigantic South Pars gas field that will export natural gas to India through a 2775-km long pipeline, National Iranian Gas Export Company chairman M. H. Rahbari said on sidelines of the 3rd Asia Gas Buyers' Summit here. Tehran had previously expressed willingness to take Indian firms on board in the development of one of the phases of South Pars gas field, which will export 7.5 million tons of liquefied natural gas to India beginning 2009. [More>> Press Trust of India]
2.14.05 Bush and bin Laden use similar language: Khatami
KERMANSHAH, Kermanshah Province, Feb. 13 (MNA) President Mohammad Khatami said here on Sunday that U.S. President George W. Bush and Al-Qaeda terrorist network leader Osama bin Laden use very similar language. ³The words and deeds of Bush and Bin Laden are alike, producing the sound of violence and waging war against the world. In fact, the words used by Bush and Bin Laden are almost exactly the same,² Khatami said during a meeting with a group of Kermanshah Province academics.
2.14.05 Sudan opposition pushes for war trials abroad
KHARTOUM, Feb. 14 (AFP) Sudanese opposition parties from across the political spectrum pressed for Darfur war crimes suspects to stand trial abroad, backing the international community against the Khartoum regime. Groups ranging from the Communist Party to the Islamist Popular Congress told the independent daily Al-Ayam that the 51 suspects named by a UN commission of inquiry should be tried abroad as they included senior officials.
2.14.05 India chooses Russian planes
Feb. 14 Yesterday, the aviation show Aero India came to the end. The negotiations between Russian firms and Indian Armed Forces authorities, that happened during the exhibition, proved that Russia has good outlooks in this country. But they won't be monopolists in the Indian sky for Delhi is interested in the technology acquisition. The tender of providing the Indian Air Forces with 126 multifunctional fighters was the major topic discussed on the exhibition. The price is some $4.5 billion. The tender winner will provide the majority of the planes; the rest will be assembled on the Indian factories. [More>>kommersant.com]
2.13.05 China, US agree on early resumption of 6-way talks: Xinhua
BEIJING, Feb. 13, (Kyodo) China and the United States on Saturday agreed to seek an early resumption of six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear program, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The accord was reached when Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice over the telephone Saturday night, Xinhua said.
2.13.05 Shiites win resounding victory in Iraq's landmark election
BAGHDAD (AFP) Feb. 13 Iraq's long-oppressed Shiite majority scored a resounding victory in the first vote since Saddam Hussein's downfall, setting the stage for the first Shiite government in an Arab state in 1,000 years. Although it mustered less than half of the votes, the counting method laid out by the country's electoral law means the main Shiite list backed by powerful spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is on track for an absolute majority in parliament.
2.13.05 Fire consumes Madrid skyscraper
MADRID, Spain, Feb. 13 Firefighters shot jets of water on one of Madrid's tallest office buildings for a second day today, fighting to control a fiery orange blaze that began the night before and threatened to collapse the 32-story skyscraper. The morning light exposed the damage from the spectacular fire that lit up the night and attracted thousands of onlookers. The top floors were little more than charred steel twisted into destroyed shapes. Everything else was burned away.
2.13.05 Syria calls for comprehensive peace in Mideast
Feb. 13 Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Al-Shara has reasserted the importance to realize a just and comprehensive peace on all tracks in the Middle East in efforts to achieve security and stability in the region. During talks with his visiting Canadian counterpart Pierre Pettigrew on Saturday, Al-Shara stressed the importance of reviving the Arab peace initiative, which was endorsed at Arab summit in Beirut in 2002. In this regard, Pettigrew voiced his country's support to the Palestinian refugees' right to return home in accordance with UN resolution 194.
2.13.05 Omar Bashir named world's worst dictator
Feb. 13 Parade magazine's yearly list of the planet's 10 worst living dictators has named Sudan's Omar Bashir as the head of world's most ignominious class. Although last year Bashir ranked a mere seventh among the 10 worst dictators, this year's list has him as the worst of the worst because of the 70,000 people who have been killed in Sudan's Darfur region and 6 million internally displaced as a result of Khartoum's ethnic cleansing, contributing editor David Wallechinsky wrote in Sunday's edition of Parade. Among his signature forms of abuse: slave trading and aerial bombing of women's and children's refugee camps.
2.13.05 India textile industry to phase out ozone depleting substance
COIMBATORE, India, Feb. 13 Awareness over ozone-depletion is gearing up fast as various nations are recognizing the importance of environment conservation. "India is steadily moving towards phasing out ozone depleting substances," said Markus Wypior, the program manager of GTZ, a German development agency, which is supporting India in controlling the level of substances causing damage to the ozone layer. "India is well on track with regard to phasing out CFC (Chloro- Fluro Carbon) and CTC (Carbon Tetrachloride), and this is something we should be aware of that India is not keeping behind rather it is the other way around and India is well on track...Carbon Tetrachloride (CTC) is one of the chief ozone depleting substances and is widely used as a degreasing and cleaning agent in the dry-cleaning and textile industries.
2.13.05 Seoul to press on with North Korea aid despite new nuclear flareup
Feb. 13 Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon and US Vice President Dick Cheney agreed on pushing for a peaceful solution of the North Korean nuclear standoff but may have differed over whether to keep pouring aid into the communist state following last week's surprise developments. During a meeting with Ban in Washington on Saturday Korean time, Cheney was reported to have suggested South Korea suspend fertilizer aid to North Korea following Pyongyang's announcement it has made nuclear weapons and will indefinitely boycott six-way talks on nuclear arms issue.
2.13.05 A representative office of UN High Commissioner on Human Rights to be opened in Russia
MOSCOW, Feb. 13 (RIA Novosti) A representative office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights will be opened in Russia, announced UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour during a press conference in Moscow on Sunday. According to Ms. Arbour, the representation will conduct its activities in the framework of existing organizations representing the UN in Moscow. "We will develop a series of concrete programs that must ensure the improvement of human rights situation in Russia," Ms. Arbour stated... In particular, she believes that the reform of social benefits split the Russian society. "There must be no discrimination in the sphere of distribution of the material wealth," Ms. Arbour emphasized. [More>>rian.ru]
2.13.05 Russian army to adopt new nuclear missile complexes
MUNICH, Feb. 13 (RIA Novosti) Russia's armed forces might soon adopt a new type of nuclear missile complexes developed by Russian military scientists, announced Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov at a press conference in Munich. "We have enough evidence to assume that it will be a unique weapons system that does not have analogues in other countries," Mr. Ivanov underlined. Mr. Ivanov refused, though, to disclose technical specifications of the new missile system. He said that Russia had been actively conducting modernization of its nuclear triad "focusing on the quality of weapons rather than its numbers."
2.13.05Cold spell leaves several dozen Afghans dead- most of the victims children
KABUL, Feb. 12 (AFP) At least 67 Afghans, mainly children, have died from freezing conditions as the war-battered country faces its coldest winter after years of droughts, an official said Friday. Most of the victims are children in rural areas as well as refugee camps in the capital Kabul, Public Health Minister Mohammed Amin Fatemi said. "We have two types of reports - unconfirmed reports from the local authorities which are quite large - up to hundreds," he said. "And we have confirmed reports - 67 children and mothers have died of cold weather."
2.13.05 Incessant rain, floods claim more than 400 lives in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD, Feb. 13 (PTI) More than 400 people have been killed and thousands are missing in Pakistan due to incessant rains and flash floods even as rescue and relief operations in the affected areas were stepped up, officials said today. The death toll in the rain and snow related incidents in provinces like Balochistan and North West Frontier Province have gone up to over 400, the officials here said. In Balochistan alone the death toll touched 300 following the bursting of a 'check dam' near Pasni town, they said. "We have reports that over 1,000 are still missing. We fear that the death toll may rise to 500 or 600. But do not have confirmed reports as yet," Sana Ullah Baloch, a Senator of the Balochistan National Party, (BNP) told PTI here. [More>>Press Trust of India]
2.13.05 Pakistan will be failed state by 2015, US intelligence agencies say
NEW DELHI, Feb. 13 (PTI) Pakistan will be a "failed" state by 2015 as it would be affected by civil war, complete Talibanisation and struggle for control of its nuclear weapons, premier US intelligence agencies have said in an assessment report. Forecasting a "Yugoslavia-like fate" for Pakistan, the US National Intelligence Council (NIC) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in a jointly prepared Global Futures Assessment Report have said "by year 2015 Pakistan would be a failed state, ripe with civil war, bloodshed, inter-provincial rivalries and a struggle for control of its nuclear weapons and complete Talibanisation".
2.13.05 Two strong aftershocks jolt tsunami-ravaged Aceh
BANDA ACEH, Aceh (AFP) Feb. 13 Two strong aftershocks less than an hour apart hit Indonesia's tsunami-devastated Aceh early on Sunday, prompting some panic in the provincial capital, witnesses said. Seismologists in Jakarta said the first quake measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale struck at 8:22 a.m. (1:22 a.m. GMT), followed by another tremor 40 minutes later at a slightly lower magnitude of 5.4. Both the aftershocks were centered some 30 kilometers under the ocean floor around 88 kilometers southwest of the ravaged provincial capital Banda Aceh, they said. [More>>thejakartapost.com]
2.13.05 UK charity group accused of aiding bin Laden
LONDON, Feb. 13 (PTI) A Birmingham-based British charity has been accused by the American government of financing Osama Bin Laden, Al-Qaeda and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, a media report said on Sunday. The Islamic Relief Agency (ISRA), which provides aid for orphanages and water wells in countries such as Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan, has been designated by the US treasury as being part of a network of "terrorist" charities that have allegedly "provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to Osama bin Laden," it said.
2.13.05 Pakistan army admits paying Al Qaeda over a half million dollars
PESHAWAR, Feb.10 The Pakistan Army has publicly admitted paying Al Qaeda over half a million dollars in the most bizarre deal it has ever made with militant Waziristan fighters, battling the Army and the US forces in the rugged terrain bordering Afghanistan for months. The announcement of the payment was made in Peshawar by none other than the Corps Commander of Peshawar Corps, the man in charge of military operations in Waziristan, Lt. Gen. Safdar Hussain, who said Rs32 million ($540,000) had been paid to help four former wanted tribal militants in South Waziristan "to settle debts with al-Qaeda."
2.13.05 US digs in deeper in Afghanistan
KARACHI, Feb. 9 After Afghanistan and Iraq, a new phase in the United States' "war on terror" is under preparation in which the military-minded decision-makers in Washington have short-listed various possible targets, including Iran and Syria. In this scenario, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will play a role, as will Pakistan...Well-placed sources in Brussels have told Asia Times Online that as a result, a strong NATO base will be established in the Afghan province of Herat, bordering Iran, and a logistics hub for NATO might be established in Pakistan's southern port of Karachi.
2.13.05 Iran rejects European demand to give up heavy water plant
TEHERAN, Iran (AP) Feb. 13 Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi rejected a European demand to stop building a heavy water nuclear reactor in return for a light-water reactor, hardening Iran's position on a key part of its nuclear facilities that critics claim is part of a weapons program. Iran had indicated in the past that its suspension of uranium enrichment activities won't include construction of a heavy water reactor but Sunday's announcement is its clearest statement so far of its nuclear program plans. The statement indicates the unresolved differences between Iranian and European negotiators, who continue their talks on Iran's nuclear program as the United States escalates its criticism of Iran. [More>>thestar.com.my]
2.13.05 'Only America unhappy with Iran: official
LONDON, Feb. 13 (IranMania) The United States is the only country not convinced by repeated inspections that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons, Iran's deputy Foreign Minister for international and legal affairs told an international security conference. Gholamali Khoshroo said an "unprecedented" number of international inspections in Iran had shown that the country only had peaceful objectives in its atomic programme. "The more they have searched, the more they have found that Iran has done nothing forbidden," Khoshroo said. "Sometimes I am saying that maybe America is the only country that is unhappy that these results have come out and that Iran is not looking for weapons.
2.13.05 Fighting resumes in Philippines
Feb. 13 At least three soldiers were killed when fresh fighting broke out on the southern Philippine island of Jolo, on the seventh day of a massive military offensive. According to a military report, another 16 Philippine soldiers were wounded when they came under fire from rebels on Sunday. The report said the attack took place in Maimbung town on Jolo island, 1000km south of Manila, but did not say when the incident happened. "There's heavy fighting going on in Panamao and Luuk areas," Lieutenant-General Alberto Braganza, the most senior commander in the southern Philippines, said. "They are taking a last stand in the mountains." The military said more than 50 rebels had been killed in the clashes, but so far less than 10 bodies had been recovered. [More..Al Jezeera; see also inq7.net: DAVAO CITY The military continues to rain down bombs on Muslim separatist Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) gunmen now holed up between Panamao and Maimbung towns in Sulu province. Lieutenant Colonel Restituto Padilla, Air Force spokesperson, said there were no immediate reports of any casualties on the rebels' side. The military's casualty figure stands at three soldiers killed and 13 others wounded, including Major Emmanuel Sison, the new commander of the 53rd Infantry Battalion. Padilla said on Sunday afternoon that an OV-10 bomber plane, dropped another 260-pound bomb bringing to three the total number of bombs dropped on Sunday. Aside from the aerial bombing, the military also continues to pound the rebels' position with howitzer and mortar fire, he said.
2.11.05 Barnier calls for US confidence in EU diplomacy
LONDON, Feb. 11 (IranMania) French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said on Thursday that diplomacy was the best option for solving the crisis over Iran's nuclear programme and urged Washington to have confidence in the European nuclear talks. "We have favoured the diplomatic option and we want it to succeed for the benefit of everyone," Michel Barnier said at a press conference at the University of Vilnius during his one-day visit to Lithuania. "These negotiations are difficult and fragile", and "we really need the confidence and support of the United States to help us to succeed," Barnier said, according to AFP.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice apparently has little knowledge of the region or why Turkey is important to the EU and why it is in Iran's economic interest to forge strong ties with the EU, Russia and Turkey / Armenia.
2.11.05 Iran, Armenia expands bilateral energy ties
TEHRAN, Feb. 11 (MNA) Iranian and Armenian ministers of energy met here to negotiate ways of expansion of bilateral ties in the energy sector. In this meeting, the Iranian minister asked to jointly carry out an expert-level study in order to clarify the details of the contract before coming up to a final agreement. Iran had earlier agreed to import power from Armenia and export gas to that country after a 160 km gas pipeline is constructed between the two countries. Armenia has stored 600 million KWH power this year and is keen to export it to Iran. [More>>mehrnews.ir]
2.11.05 Iran starts exporting gas to Turkey
TEHRAN, Feb. 11 (MNA) After a short halt, Iran has started exporting 100,000 cubic meters of gas per hour to Turkey, that is one fifth of the amount agreed between the tow sides, Reuters quoted a Turkish energy official as saying. The Turkish officials had earlier announced that the import of gas from Iran was halted due to the freezing weather of the borders and the increasing gas consumption in Iran. Turkey is the biggest importer of Iranıs gas at present and has a contract to import 500,000 cubic meters of gas per hour. However, due to several reasons the amount has been reduced from time to time. [More>>mehrnews.ir]
2.10.05 North Korea: we have nukes
Feb. 11 NORTH Korea has for the first time unambiguously declared that it has nuclear weapons, and says it has quit international talks aimed at resolving the nuclear stand-off. The announcement late yesterday sent shockwaves through neighbouring capitals, where governments have been trying to coax one of the world's most isolated and unpredictable regimes back to the negotiating table.
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