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Saint Petersburg-Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan today promised to reinvigorate ties after their first meeting since Ankara shot down a Russian warplane last November. Erdogan's visit to Putin's hometown of St Petersburg is also his first foreign trip since the failed coup against him last month that sparked a purge of opponents and cast a shadow over Turkey’s relations with the West. “We lived through a very complicated moment in the relations between our states and we very much want, and I feel our Turkish friends want, to overcome the difficulties,” Putin told journalists at a joint press conference after the encounter. The Kremlin leader insisted it would take “painstaking work” and “some time” to return to previous trade levels as Russia looks to roll back a series of economic sanctions against Ankara, but both sides said they wanted to restart major energy projects hit by the crisis. Erdogan said he hoped Russian-Turkish relations would become “more robust” and stressed how important it was that Putin offered his support after the coup. “We will bring our relations back to the old level and even beyond, both sides are determined and have the necessary will,” he said. The shooting down of a Russian fighter jet by a Turkish F-16 over the Syrian border last fall saw a furious Putin slap economic sanctions on Turkey and launch a blistering war of words with Erdogan that seemed to irrevocably damage burgeoning ties. But in a shock reversal late June, Putin accepted a letter expressing regret over the incident from Erdogan as an apology and quickly rolled back a ban on the sale of package holidays to Turkey and signalled Moscow would end measures against Turkish food imports and construction firms. Putin was one of the first foreign leaders to phone Erdogan offering support after the coup attempt....
Aug 10 2016 | Posted in : | No Comment | read more...
Quetta-A Taliban suicide bomber in Pakistan killed at least 75 people and wounded more than a hundred on Monday in an attack on mourners gathered at a hospital in Quetta, according to officials in the southwestern province of Baluchistan. The bomber struck as a crowd of mostly lawyers and journalists crammed into the emergency department to accompany the body of a prominent lawyer who had been shot and killed in the city earlier in the day, Faridullah, a reporter who was among the wounded, told Reuters. Abdul Rehman Miankhel, a senior official at the government-run civil hospital, where the explosion occurred, said at least 75 people had been killed, with more than 115 wounded, as the casualty toll spiked from initial estimates. “There are many wounded, so the death toll could rise,” said Rehmat Saleh Baloch, the provincial health minister. Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, a faction of the Islamist militant Pakistani Taliban group, claimed responsibility for the attack in an email. “The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ur-Ahrar (TTP-JA) takes responsibility for this attack, and pledges to continue carrying out such attacks,” said spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan in the statement. Quetta has long been regarded as a base for the Afghan Taliban, whose leadership has regularly held meetings there in the past. Only last week, Jamaat was added to the United States’ list of global terrorists, triggering sanctions. TV footage showed scenes of chaos at the hospital in Quetta, with panicked people fleeing through debris as smoke filled the hospital corridors. Bodies lay strewn across a hospital courtyard shortly after the blast and pools of blood collected as emergency rescuers rushed to identify survivors. The motive behind the attack was unclear, but several lawyers have been targeted during a recent spate of killings in Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan which has a history of militant and separatist violence. The latest victim, Bilal Anwar Kasi, was shot and killed while on his way to the city’s main court complex, senior police official Nadeem Shah told Reuters. He was the president of Baluchistan Bar Association. The subsequent suicide attack appeared to target his mourners, Anwar ul Haq Kakar, a spokesman for the Baluchistan government, said. The police cordoned off the hospital following the blast, with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif paying visits to the wounded on Monday...
Aug 09 2016 | Posted in : | No Comment | read more...
Harrisburg-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton took her newly energised White House bid on the road on Friday for a tour of crucial “Rust Belt” states Pennsylvania and Ohio, but the campaign’s focus was clouded by a newly disclosed cyber attack. Reuters on Friday reported that the computer network used by Clinton’s campaign, which is based in Brooklyn, had been hacked as part of a broad cyber attack on Democratic political organizations, citing people familiar with the matter. The campaign said a data program maintained by the Democratic National Committee and used by the campaign and other entities was accessed as part of a cyber attack on the DNC. The Clinton campaign said outside experts had found no evidence that its internal systems had been compromised. On Thursday, Reuters reported that the party’s fundraising committee for candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives had also been breached, the second such incident after last weekend’s leak of DNC emails. Revelations from the DNC emails gave the Democratic convention a rocky start, threatening a bid to reunify the party after a bitter primary campaign. Even so, a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday showed Clinton leading Republican rival Donald Trump by 6 percentage points. Nearly 41 per cent of likely voters favor Clinton, 35 per cent favor Trump, and 25 per cent picked “other,” according to the new July 25-29 online poll of 1,043 likely voters, which overlapped with the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. After a speech Thursday night in which she became the first woman to accept a major party’s presidential nomination, Clinton launched a three-day bus tour of Ohio and Pennsylvania, which like other Rust Belt states have been hit by the decline in US manufacturing. Clinton and her vice-presidential running mate, US Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, on Friday attended a rally at Philadelphia’s Temple University, toured a factory in Hatfield and ended the day in Harrisburg. They will continue onto Ohio on Saturday and Sunday. Clinton is likely to face a tough challenge in such states from Trump, a New York businessman who is trying to win white working-class voters with rhetoric blasting free trade and illegal immigration. Clinton and Kaine are using the Rust Belt tour to highlight manufacturing successes and discuss how they plan to boost wages for the middle class. In the process they aim to contrast their vision for the country with the one offered by Trump. “If you’re looking for a kind of pessimistic, downbeat vision of America, we’re not your folks,” Clinton said in Hatfield. “We do not buy into that dark, divisive, image that was presented at the Republican convention last week.” Opinion polls show a potentially tight race in Ohio and Pennsylvania, both of which President Barack Obama won in the 2012 election. “The differences are stark,” Kaine said in Harrisburg. Clinton and Trump are essentially tied in Ohio, where the Republicans held their convention last week, according to an average of polls by RealClearPolitics. Clinton has a lead of 4.4 percentage points in Pennsylvania, the website’s average of recent polls showed. Ohio and to a lesser extent Pennsylvania are among a handful of competitive states traditionally viewed as decisive in presidential elections, because they do not lean heavily Democratic or...
Jul 30 2016 | Posted in : | No Comment | read more...
Vientiane -July 26-China scored an unequivocal diplomatic victory today, preventing Southeast Asia’s main grouping from criticising it for territorially expanding in the South China Sea, even though some of the bloc’s members are victims of Beijing’s actions. After hectic negotiations, the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations issued a watered-down rebuke that amounted to less than a slap on the wrist, and exposed the deep divisions in a regional body that prides itself on unity. In a joint communique released after their talks, the foreign ministers of ASEAN said only that they “remain seriously concerned over recent and ongoing developments” in the South China Sea. The statement did not mention China by name in referring to the developments. Most significantly, it failed to mention a recent ruling by an international arbitration panel in a dispute between the Philippines and China that said Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea were illegal and that the Philippines was justifiably the aggrieved party. China has dismissed the ruling as bogus, saying the Hague-based tribunal has no authority to rule on what Beijing calls bilateral disputes. China wants direct negotiations with the Philippines instead. The tribunal’s award “amounts to prescribing a dose of wrong medicine... and it seems that certain countries outside the region have got all worked up, keeping the fever high,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, referring to the United States. Wang said about 80 per cent of that time was spent on ASEAN-China relations, and only 20 per cent on South China Sea. He joked that reporters had expended more than 80 per cent of the question-and-answer time on South China Sea. China was able to push through its stance in ASEAN with the help of Cambodia, and to some extent Laos, both of which are close friends of Beijing. ASEAN’s guiding principle is to make all statements by consensus, so a veto by Cambodia would have prevented a more stinging rebuke....
Jul 26 2016 | Posted in : | No Comment | read more...
PHILADELPHIA-The head of the Democratic Party resigned on Sunday amid a furor over embarrassing leaked emails, hoping to head off a growing rebellion by Bernie Sanders supporters on the eve of the convention to nominate Hillary Clinton for the White House. Lingering bitterness from the heated primary campaign between Clinton and Sanders erupted after more than 19,000 Democratic National Committee emails leaked on Friday confirmed Sanders' frequent charge that the party played favorites in the race. In a statement, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the best way for the party to accomplish its goal of putting Clinton in the White House was for her to step aside after the convention. Sanders had demanded earlier in the day that Wasserman Schultz resign. The furore was a blow to a party keen on projecting stability in contrast to the volatility of Republican candidate Donald Trump, who was formally nominated at a raucous convention in Cleveland last week. It also overshadowed preparations in Philadelphia for Clinton's coronation as the nominee to face Trump in the November 8 presidential election. She will be the first woman nominated for president by a major US political party. The four-day Democratic convention will open on Monday. In some good news for Clinton, The New York Times reported that businessman and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will endorse her in a prime-time speech on Monday, saying she will be the best choice for moderate voters in 2016. The cache of emails leaked on Friday by the WikiLeaks website disclosed that DNC officials explored ways to undermine Sanders' insurgent presidential campaign, including raising questions about whether Sanders, who is Jewish, was really an atheist.Sanders said Wasserman Schultz, a US representative from Florida, had made the right decision for the future of the Democratic Party. "The party leadership must also always remain impartial in the presidential nominating process, something which did not occur in the 2016 race," he...
Jul 25 2016 | Posted in : | No Comment | read more...
Ankara-Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared a three-month state of Emergency, vowing to hunt down the “terrorist” group behind last week’s bloody coup attempt. He has accused followers of his arch-enemy, US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, of being behind the coup, which has led to a wave of some 50,000 arrests and sackings of suspected conspirators. The state of Emergency was needed “in order to remove swiftly all the elements of the terrorist organisation involved in the coup attempt,” Erdogan said at the presidential palace in Ankara. Although the special measure vastly increases state security powers, Erdogan vowed there would be “no compromise on democracy”. The announcement followed long meetings of Turkey’s national Security Council and Cabinet chaired by Erdogan at the presidential palace. A state of emergency gives the government extra powers to restrict freedom of movement, said an official, adding that it would not restrict financial or commercial activities as “international law sets limits of restrictions”. Turkey in 2002 lifted its last state of Emergency, which had been imposed in provinces in the southeast for the fight against Kurdish militants in 1987. Article 120 of the Constitution allows a state of Emergency to be imposed “at a time of serious deterioration of public order because of acts of violence.” Global concern has grown as Turkish authorities have arrested or fired troops, police, judges, teachers and other civil servants in the aftermath of Friday’s failed bid to seize power by rebel troops. Earlier, the Turkish leader lashed out at critics of the sweeping purge, telling France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault—who had warned Erdogan not to use the failed coup as a “blank cheque” to silence his opponents—to “mind his own business”. “Does he have the authority to make these declarations about my person? No, he does not. If he wants a lesson in democracy, he can very easily get a lesson in democracy from us,” Erdogan said on al-Jazeera. Earlier yesterday US Secretary of State John Kerry, flanked by allied foreign ministers, said that while “we condemn this coup”, it was important that the response to it “fully respects that democracy that we are supporting”. And German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, in more direct comments, said that in Turkey “nearly every day we are seeing new measures that flout the rule of law and that disregard the principle of proportionality”. Erdogan in the Al-Jazeera interview insisted that the arrests and suspensions had been carried out “within the law”, adding that “of course that does not mean we have come to the end of it”....
Jul 21 2016 | Posted in : | No Comment | read more...
New Delhi-Urging all parties to work together for the good of the country, PM Narendra Modi today led the government’s outreach effort by personally greeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the Lok Sabha as it assembled for the first day of the Monsoon Session. Before the LS adjourned for the day after paying homage to sitting member Dalpat Singh and six former MPs who died recently, Modi introduced his new ministers in keeping with the parliamentary tradition. There was a visible effort on part of government leaders to build bridges with the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, principally with the Congress that is yet to come on board on the pending GST Bill. That explained External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s gesture of walking over to Sonia to greet her in the LS this morning, followed by a similar move by newly appointed MoS Parliamentary Affairs SS Ahluwalia, who paid courtesies to all Opposition leaders, including Sonia, SP chief Mulayam Singh and TMC leader Kalyan Banerjee. The move was significant considering past bad blood between the government and the Congress whose leaders were cross with the BJP for targeting Sonia and her son Rahul through the National Herald first and the AgustaWestland deal case later. On these counts, winter and Budget sessions of Parliament were mostly lost to disruptions and the GST could not be taken up. However, the government has come determined to build bridges this time. A Congress leader said, “Replacement of parliamentary affairs team itself has generated congeniality. Former minister M Venkaiah Naidu would mostly end up provoking the Opposition by constantly rubbing in the fact that PM Modi won a huge mandate. Rajeev Pratap Rudy, Naidu’s junior, was also a little combative. The new team has begun well and appears more accommodating of the Opposition.” Signs of government’s intentions to accommodate the Congress were visible on Day 1 with Ghulam Nabi Azad’s notice for discussion on Kashmir being accepted immediately. “This is a good start for consensus building,” said Azad’s deputy in the RS Anand...
Jul 19 2016 | Posted in : | No Comment | read more...
London-British lawmaker Angela Eagle today launched her bid to lead the main opposition party by challenging embattled Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is facing a leadership challenge following post-Brexit fallout. Eagle, 55, who had resigned as business secretary from his shadow cabinet last month, had revealed over the weekend that she would be making her formal bid for leadership after Corbyn lost support of a majority of his party MPs. “These are dark times for Labour. And these are dangerous times for our country. I would not do this if I did not think I could be a good prime minister for Britain,” Eagle said. Highlighting her credentials without any baggage of past Labour party leaders, she added: “I’m not a Blairite. I’m not a Brownite. I’m not a Corbynista. I am my own woman. A strong Labour woman. I am a person who brings people together, I don’t drive them apart. I will unite. I will not divide. I can bring our party together again.” Eagle’s leadership bid comes after as many as 172 Labour MPs out of a total of 230 MPs indicated that they had no confidence in Corbyn in a vote of the Parliamentary Labour Party last month. Corbyn, who is accused of lukewarm campaigning for Britain to stay in the EU, has said he would not “betray” the party members who elected him last year by standing down. Labour’s ruling body, the National Executive Committee, is expected to decide this week if Corbyn needs the backing from 51 MPs and MEPs to stand in a new leadership contest. The 33-member body is made up of representatives of the parliamentary party, trade unions, MEPs, constituency groups, socialist societies and others. Corbyn’s backers say that as leader, he has an automatic right to stand, especially as he won 59% of the membership vote last September. But his opponents say the document’s wording means Corbyn will also require the support of MPs and MEPs to...
Jul 12 2016 | Posted in : | No Comment | read more...