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Daily Archives: December 14, 2010

Photostream : Silvio Berlusconi wins confidence vote

Supporters of Italian prime minister Silvio berlusconi celebrate after a confidence vote at the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house, on December 14, 2010 in Rome. italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi scraped through a crucial confidence vote in the lower house of parliament by 314 votes in favour and 311 against. (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi kisses Secretary of UDC Party Pier Ferdinando Casini during the confidence vote to his government at the Lower house on December 14, 2010 in Rome, Italy. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi faced a vote of no confidence from both the Senate and the Lower House but won both counts. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi waves during a session in parliament in Rome December 14, 2010. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi narrowly survived a no-confidence motion in the lower house of parliament on Tuesday, but the future of his government remained uncertain because of its wafer-thin majority. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi covers his face with his hands during a session in the parliament in Rome December 14, 2010. Berlusconi narrowly survived a no-confidence motion in the lower house of parliament on Tuesday, but the future of his government remained uncertain because of its wafer-thin majority. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

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Posted by on December 14, 2010 in World News

 

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British Foreign & Commonwealth Office : Afghanistan monthly progress report

FILE : Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (2nd R) smiles as he arrives at patrol base 2 between Lashkar Gah and Gereshk in Afghanistan December 6, 2010. Cameron, visiting Afghanistan on an unannounced trip, said troops could start withdrawing from the country as early as next year. Photograph taken December 6, 2010. REUTERS/ Leon Neal/Pool

December 14, 2010 (KATAKAMI / FCO.GOV.UK) — The Foreign Secretary, on behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development, has published a progress report on developments in Afghanistan.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr William Hague):

I wish to inform the House that, today, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, together with the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development, is publishing the first progress report on developments in Afghanistan, which I announced we would publish every month in my statement to the House on 27 October.

The report focuses on key developments during the month of November.

At the NATO Lisbon Summit, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)’s 48 contributing nations reaffirmed their enduring commitment to Afghanistan’s security and stability.  NATO and Afghanistan also agreed the framework of a long-term partnership that looks beyond the end of ISAF’s current mission.  The Summit set out the timetable for transition of lead responsibility for security from international to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.

Transition to Afghan lead security responsibility will be dependent on the conditions in each district and province.  It will see ISAF’s role evolve away from combat towards increased training, mentoring and support.  In Lisbon, ISAF partners joined the UK in pledging additional trainers to help Afghan security forces build capacity and prepare to assume lead responsibility for security, as set out at the Summit.

Pressure on the insurgency is increasing due to ISAF’s operations. The significant uplift in troop numbers has corresponded to an increase in military operations, particularly in those areas where insurgent activity is still strong, although this has not caused a significant increase in civilian casualties.

Progress continues to be made in developing the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police, both of which are on track to meet the targets for trained soldiers and police officers, agreed at the London Conference in January this year, by November 2011. Investment continues in the training of both the army and the police, particularly their leadership.

The results of September’s Parliamentary elections were declared. Whilst by no means free of irregularities or fraud, they were broadly credible, given the circumstances. Approximately 60 percent of Parliamentarians are new to the National Assembly. Female candidates have done well. Both of the two seats in Nimroz Province were won by women – the first time any Afghan woman has won a seat not reserved for a female candidate.

The Afghan Government reported progress on the commitments made at the Kabul Conference in July on security, anti-corruption, human rights and public financial management.

An important example of the region’s commitment to supporting Afghanistan was the fourth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA), held in Istanbul, Turkey on 2-3 November.  The UK was central to establishing the RECCA process in 2005, and this year funded the establishment of a Centre for Regional Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kabul.

A long awaited Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement was finally signed by Afghanistan and Pakistan on 29 October, enabling cargo trucks to reach Pakistani ports and the border with India.  This will provide a significant boost for Afghan trade.

I am placing the Report in the Library of the House. It will also be published on the FCO website, and the HMG UK and Afghanistan website.   (*)

 
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Photostream : South African President Jacob Zuma meets Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos

South African President Jacob Zuma (R) and Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos arrive prior to their meeting in Pretoria on December 14, 2010. Eduardo dos Santos begins his first state visit to South Africa, opening up a new chapter in ties between the continent's oil-producing powerhouse and the economic giant. (Photo by ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images)

South African President Jacob Zuma (R) and Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos arrive prior to their meeting in Pretoria on December 14, 2010. Eduardo dos Santos begins his first state visit to South Africa, opening up a new chapter in ties between the continent's oil-producing powerhouse and the economic giant. (Photo by ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images)

South African President Jacob Zuma (R) confers with Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos in Pretoria on December 14, 2010. Eduardo dos Santos begins his first state visit to South Africa, opening up a new chapter in ties between the continent's oil-producing powerhouse and the economic giant. (Photo by ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images)

South African President Jacob Zuma (R) and Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos arrive prior to their meeting in Pretoria on December 14, 2010. Eduardo dos Santos begins his first state visit to South Africa, opening up a new chapter in ties between the continent's oil-producing powerhouse and the economic giant. (Photo by ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images)

 
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South Korean army chief quits as scale of North's nuclear ambition emerges

General Hwang Eui-don, who has resigned as the head of the South Korean army. Photograph: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

 

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December 14, 2010 (KATAKAMI / GUARDIAN.CO.UK) — The chief of the South Korean army resigned today, two weeks after the defence minister was replaced amid sharp criticism of the country’s response to North Korea‘s attack on Yeonpyeong island.

General Hwang Eui-don’s resignation came as South Korean intelligence officials warned that North Korea has been secretly enriching uranium at as many as four undisclosed locations, potentially giving it access to a new source of fissile material for nuclear weapons.

The enrichment plants are in addition to a similar facility at the regime’s main nuclear facility in Yongbyon, revealed last month, following a visit by the US scientist Siegfried Hecker.

North Korean officials claimed that the Yongbyon plant had more than 1,000 working centrifuges, but insisted they were intended for power generation and not for the production of weapons-grade uranium.

“The business of peacefully developing nuclear energy and using it is happening in our country, in line with the international trend,” the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of North Korea’s ruling party, said today. “Peaceful nuclear activity is a sovereign right of all nations.”

Hwang is said to have resigned over his involvement in a property investment deal, but his departure will be seen as a further blow to the country’s military so soon after the Yeonpyeong attack, which killed two soldiers and two civilians.

Kim Tae-young resigned as defence minister to take responsibility for what many South Koreans believed was a weak response to the 23 November attack, the first targeting civilians since the 1950-53 Korean war.

The South fired artillery rounds in response but did not order air strikes. It has since vowed to retaliate with much greater force to any further provocations by Pyongyang.

South Korea‘s Yonhap news agency said Hwang, who only took up the post in June, was under pressure over profits from the property deal.

“General Hwang offered to retire following media reports about his property investment, because he judged it was inappropriate for him to stay in the post at a time when he has to lead reform of the army,” Yonhap quoted a defence ministry official as saying.

His resignation comes on the eve of South Korea’s biggest civil defence drill for years. Fighter jets will fly around the country and people will run to thousands of underground shelters as part of a simulation of a North Korean air attack.

News that the North’s uranium enrichment programme may be more widespread than previously thought could add to fears that the regime is seeking to augment its plutonium stockpile.

“The uranium enrichment facility at Yongbyon that the North disclosed to US scientist Siegfried Hecker is not among the three or four South Korea and the US have established to be in existence,” the intelligence official was quoted as saying in the Chosun Ilbo newspaper.

“We have established that the uranium enrichment tests that the North has been conducting for some time are at separate locations.”

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, yesterday voiced “deep concern” about the uranium enrichment programme in a meeting with his North Korean counterpart, Pak Ui-chun.

Lavrov urged Pyongyang to comply with UN security council resolutions banning uranium enrichment and called for a quick resumption of six-party talks on its nuclear programme. Aside from Russia and the two Koreas, the stalled talks involve the US, China and Japan.

The failure to resume multiparty negotiations sparked a new regional diplomatic push that will continue in the coming days.

South Korea’s nuclear envoy was due to meet his Russian counterpart to discuss the shelling and uranium enrichment, while the governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, will begin a four-day, private visit to North Korea on Thursday.  (*)

 
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Ambassador Richard Holbrooke: British Foreign Secretary's message of condolence

FILE : British Foreign Secretary William Hague (L) talks with US envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke prior to the start of a 'Friends of Democratic Pakistan' meeting on October 15,2010 at the EU headquarters in Brussels. Also attending the meeting of 26 countries and international institutions are a slew of foreign ministers and dignitaries, including US envoy for the region, Richard Holbrooke. Pakistan is ready to facilitate talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in the interests of regional peace, the country's foreign minister said today. (Photo by GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images)

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December 14, 2010 (KATAKAMI / FCO.GOV.UK) — Foreign Secretary’s message of condolence on the death of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke

On learning of the death of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said:“I learned with sadness of the death last night of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.

Ambassador Holbrooke was truly one of the best and the brightest of his generation. Whether as a young State Department officer in Vietnam or as Ambassador to Germany and the UN he has served his nation with distinction and integrity.

Ambassador Holbrooke made an enduring peace his goal in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He conceived and led the 1995 Dayton Peace Process, bringing to a halt the most vicious conflict in Europe since the end of the Second World War. In doing so, he exemplified the finest qualities of American and international diplomatic leadership. The principles he established in the Dayton/Paris Accords including on inter-ethnic balance, robust peace-keeping and of regional commitments are a model for others to follow. We will be vigilant in preserving the peace he secured.

Since I started in the job of Foreign Secretary, I have worked closely with Ambassador Holbrooke on Afghanistan and Pakistan where he has played a key role in establishing and developing the international contact group to support stability and peace in the region. His work will continue.

On behalf of the British Government and his many friends here in the UK I send my condolences to Ambassador Holbrooke’s family and to Secretary Clinton and the American people for this sad loss.”  (*)

 

 
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Photostream : Veteran US Diplomat Richard Holbrooke Dies At 69

Special Representative Holbrooke, in New York. Photograph by Brigitte Lacombe

FILE : Indonesia's President Abdurrahman Wahid (R) greets U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Richard Holbrooke in Jakarta in this November 20, 1999 file photo. Holbrooke, who was President Barack Obama's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, died on December 13, 2010, CNN reported citing a senior U.S. official. He was 69. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Supri/Files )

Richard Holbrooke, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, speaks with journalists as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Islamabad for meetings with leaders and officials on July 18, 2010. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Pakistan July 18 for strategic talks aimed at bolstering bilateral ties and securing firmer support for the war in Afghanistan. (Photo by PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. special representative Richard Holbrooke (C) visits the Shah Mansoor camp for internally displaced persons in Swabi in this June 4, 2009 file photo. Holbrooke, who was President Barack Obama's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, died on December 13, 2010, CNN reported citing a senior U.S. official. He was 69. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood/Files )

Afghan President Hamid Karzai (C), US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke (L), and US Central Command chief General David Petraeus (R) arrive for a conference at Kabul International Airport on April 11, 2010. Holbrooke and US Central Command chief General David Petraeus are attending a two-day conference reviewing US civilian and military involvement in Afghanistan for the coming year. The conference, involving US, Afghan and key coalition allies, comes after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in January unveiled a long-term, non-military plan to stabilise the region, including sending more civilian experts to help implement schemes in areas from agriculture to governance. (Photo by SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai (R) talks with U.S. Special Representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke in Kabul in this February 15, 2009 file photo. Holbrooke, who was President Barack Obama's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, died on December 13, 2010, CNN reported citing a senior U.S. official. He was 69. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani/Files

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke (L) listens to Xanana Gusmao, leader of the National Council for Timorese Resistance (CNRT), in Ailue, near Dili, in this November 23, 1999 file photo. Holbrooke, who was President Barack Obama's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, died on December 13, 2010, CNN reported citing a senior U.S. official. He was 69. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside/Files

 

 
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REQUIESCAT IN PACE : Richard Holbrooke Has Died

 

Richard Holbrooke, the US Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan

REQUIESCAT IN PACE :  Richard Charles Albert Holbrooke (April 24, 1941 – December 13, 2010)

 

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December 14, 2010 (KATAKAMI / ABC NEWS) — ABC News has learned that Richard Holbrooke, the US Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, has died.

On Friday, Holbrooke was rushed to the hospital with a torn aorta. He went through more than 20 hours of surgery. Earlier this evening, speaking at the US State Department, President Obama sang Holbrooke’s praises and called him “a tough son of a gun.”

Holbrooke, 69, was a former ambassador to the United Nations and served as chief negotiator at the Dayton Peace Accords, which ended the war in Bosnia.

The New Yorker’s George Packer wrote a nice story about Holbrooke last year, which you can read HERE.  (*)

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2010 in World News