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Daily Archives: March 2, 2011

PM Bibi Netanyahu Meets Chilean Miners, Talks about Gilad Shalit

Richard Villarroel (R), one of the 33 Chilean miners, who survived a grueling 69-day ordeal trapped in a caved-in gold and copper mine in Chile, pose with his wife and baby for a picture with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting in his Jerusalem office on March 2,2011 as the miners finish a week long visit to the Christian holy sites in Israel and Palestinian territories. (Photo by MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

 

 

JERUSALEM, March 2, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Wednesday with the Chilean miners who are visiting Israel after their rescue in October from a collapsed mine, Israel National News reported on Wednesday (3/2/2011).

Netanyahu spoke to the miners about the plight of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, who was snatched by Gaza terrorists in 2006 and has not been granted visits from international observers.


The Chilean miners, who survived a grueling 69-day ordeal trapped in a caved-in gold and copper mine in Chile, hold their national flag and pose for a picture with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) at his office in Jerusalem on March 2,2011 as the miners finish a week long visit to the Christian holy sites in Israel and Palestinian territories. (Photo by MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

 

 

“Our goal is to free him from the depths of the earth, to bring Gilad home,” Netanyahu said. Israel makes efforts to secure Shalit’s freedom every day, he added.

When asked if he believes that Shalit will be freed during his term, the prime minister said, “I hope so.”   (*)

 
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General David Petraeus apologises over Afghan civilian deaths

US General David Petraeus -- the commander of international troops in Afghanistan -- has said he is "deeply sorry" for the deaths of nine civilians in a coalition air strike in Kunar province. (AFP/File/Odd Andersen)

 

 

ASADABAD, Afghanistan, March 2, 2011  (KATAKAMI.COM / AFP) – The commander of international troops in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, said Wednesday he was “deeply sorry” for the deaths of nine civilians in a coalition air strike, AFP reported on Wednesday.

Petraeus’s personal apology came hours after President Hamid Karzai issued an angry statement saying nine young children died in Tuesday’s strike as they collected firewood in Darah-Ye Pech district of northeastern Kunar province.

Accidental civilian casualties in foreign military operations against the Taliban have been high on Afghanistan’s political agenda recently, highlighting tensions between Karzai and the West before a planned limited withdrawal of foreign troops from July.

The Afghan army and police are due to take control of security in their own country from 2014.

“We are deeply sorry for this tragedy and apologise to the members of the Afghan government, the people of Afghanistan and most importantly, the surviving family members of those killed by our actions,” Petraeus said in a statement.

“These deaths should have never happened and I will personally apologise to President Karzai when he returns from his trip to London this week.”

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) statement made no reference to the age of those who died in the attack.

The incident happened after an insurgent rocket attack on a military base prompted coalition forces to return fire, including with air power, it said.

Petraeus has now ordered all helicopter crews to be re-briefed on the need to keep civilian casualties “to the absolute minimum” and troops could face disciplinary action over the attack, it added.

Karzai had earlier criticised foreign forces on civilian deaths, saying they would face “huge problems” if the “daily killing of innocent civilians” did not stop.

About 150 people demonstrated Wednesday in the town of Asadabad, the capital of Kunar, over the deaths, shouting anti-American slogans, witnesses said.

Earlier this week, an official delegation appointed by Karzai accused international forces of killing 65 civilians in recent, separate operations elsewhere in Kunar.

In that case, though, ISAF said there were only a handful of civilian injuries.

Civilian casualties during international military operations against insurgents are a source of friction between the Kabul government and its Western backers.

Karzai argues that such incidents risk draining support away from his administration and towards the Taliban.

In his statement Wednesday, Karzai stressed that “Afghan villages are not the bases and havens of terrorism.”

The Afghan president has long insisted that international forces deployed to his war-torn country should focus their efforts on militant hideouts across the border in neighbouring Pakistan.

Human rights watchdog the Afghanistan Rights Monitor said last month that 2010 was the deadliest year for Afghan civilians since the US-led invasion in 2001.

At least 2,421 were killed, it said, blaming the Taliban and other insurgents for more than 60 percent of the dead. At least 217 died in air strikes by international forces, it added.

Karzai is currently in London, where he was due Wednesday to visit injured British soldiers who served in Afghanistan.  (*)

 
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US warships head for Libya as West pressures Gaddafi

US Navy's USS Kearsarge amphibious assault ( File photo from Press TV.IR )

TRIPOLI, March 2, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / AFP) – Two US warships were heading towards Libya on Wednesday as the West started flexing its military muscle and rebels fighting Moamer Kadhafi’s regime began organising the trappings of parallel government.

The UN refugee agency said the situation on the Libya-Tunisia border was reaching crisis point as desperate expatriate workers pour across, fearful of a bloody rearguard action by diehard regime elements.

More than 100,000 people have already left Libya to escape a vicious crackdown by Kadhafi loyalists which has left at least 1,000 dead, according to conservative UN estimates.

The USS Kearsarge and the USS Ponce carrying marines and equipment entered the Suez Canal early Wednesday, an Egyptian canal authority official said. The warships are expected to enter the Mediterranean by evening.

The Kearsarge amphibious ready group, with about 800 marines, a fleet of helicopters and medical facilities, could support humanitarian efforts as well as military operations.

“We’re certainly moving assets to be closer (to Libya),” a US defence official told AFP in Washington on Tuesday. “A ship like the Kearsarge is capable of many types of missions.”

Western powers are arguing over imposing a proposed no-fly zone over Libya to support rebels fighting Kadhafi’s regime. Some opposition figures in Libya have begun calling for air strikes.

Protesters against Kadhafi’s four-decade rule have seized control of most of the country despite a bloody fightback by his forces. Tripoli remains under his control and largely peaceful. Key oil fields in the east have fallen to the opposition.

Anger at authoritarian Arab regimes in the Middle East and North Africa raged from Algeria to Yemen and has spread to the previously unaffected Gulf states of Kuwait and Oman, unnerving financial markets around the world.

New York crude prices again breached $100 a barrel in Asian trade Wednesday and Wall Street shares slumped, after Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke warned that high oil prices could spark inflation and hamper economic recovery.

Huge crowds poured into the centre of Yemen’s capital Sanaa on Tuesday to protest at President AliAbdullah, in power since 1978.

Saleh dismissed the demonstrations across the Middle East as “a storm orchestrated from Tel Aviv and under Washington’s supervision”.

Diplomatic manoeuvring on Libya stepped up with the United Nations on Tuesday suspending the oil-rich state from its main human rights body, but the UN Security Council is split on the crisis.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Libya was at a crossroads between progress to a “peaceful democracy” or “protracted civil war.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron, a leading advocate of the no-fly option, said it was unacceptable for Kadhafi to “be murdering his own people, using aeroplanes and helicopter gunships and the like”.

London said a no-fly zone did not necessarily require UN approval, but new French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe ruled out military action without a clear UN mandate, and Russia appears sceptical.

NATO intervention in Libya might be “extremely counter-productive” in the eyes of Arab public opinion, Juppe said, while top US military officials stressed the lack of international unanimity and logistical problems.

Although Kadhafi’s military is badly outgunned by US and NATO aircraft, the regime has dozens of surface-to-air missiles that could target invading warplanes.

“We also have to think about frankly the use of the US military in another country in the Middle East,” US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said.

Rebels in Benghazi said they had formed a military council in the eastern Libyan city, the hotbed of the uprising against Kadhafi’s four-decade iron rule.

The council will liaise with similar groups in other eastern cities, the rebels said, but it was not immediately clear if there were plans for a regional command.

Salwa Bughaighi, a member of the coalition trying to run Benghazi, said they would seek a no-fly zone to prevent Kadhafi from reinforcing his strongholds in Tripoli and Sirte.

Other people privy to rebel discussions in Benghazi said they were losing hope that the popular uprising could topple Kadhafi and were inclined to ask for foreign air strikes, perhaps under a UN mandate, on strategic targets.

The no-fly option received backing from the exiled crown prince of Libya, Mohammed el-Senussi, who said military action should go no further than that.

“Let me be clear. There is a difference between a no-fly zone and military intervention, and the Libyan people do not seek external military involvement on the ground,” he said in London.

“That will not bring about the peace and freedom that we crave.”

Libya’s deputy UN ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi, who has defected to the opposition, said a transitional government would start work in Benghazi even as Kadhafi stays entrenched in Tripoli.

But as local councils wrestle with how to get public services running, many protesters fear their disorganised forces will be outgunned by Kadhafi’s militias if they try to strike out to the west from their eastern stronghold.

On Monday, pro-Kadhafi militiamen were repulsed after attempting to retake Zawiyah, a middle-class dormitory town just 60 kilometres (40 miles) west of Tripoli where several of the leader’s lieutenants have homes, residents said.

But rebels in Zintan, 145 kilometres (90 miles) southwest of Tripoli, were bracing for an assault by Kadhafi forces to retake the city, the first in western Libya to throw off his rule.

General Sultan Yehia, in charge of a group of men with mismatched uniforms in Ajdabiya, the westernmost town fully controlled by opposition forces, said finishing off Kadhafi’s forces was not an option.

“We are preparing ourselves to defend but not to go on the attack,” said the moustachioed old soldier, who finds himself on the frontline of an anti-regime movement that has spread far and wide through the Arab world.   (*)

 
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Iran to US: Stop military interference

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

March 2, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / PRESS TV.IR/ IRNA ) —- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has warned the United States and its allies against their “military” interference in North Africa and the Middle East, urging them to stop their moves, Press TV reported on Wednesday.

“If you have military interference in North Africa and the Middle East once again, regional nations will stand up and dig graves for your soldiers,” IRNA quoted President Ahmadinejad as speaking in Iran’s western province of Lorestan on Wednesday.

The Iranian chief executive added that the present time differs from 10 years ago and the time of former US President George W. Bush “that you attacked Iraq and Afghanistan under the pretext of September 11.”

He said the US and its “plundering allies” are the “most hated governments among nations” and emphasized that they are hatching plots to prepare ground for their military intervention in certain countries.

President Ahmadinejad warned certain powers, who falsely claim to defend human rights, against their deceitful plots, saying, “No one accepts your claims about supporting nations because you are the main culprits behind the ongoing crimes in the world.”

He pointed out that the US leaders currently claim to defend rights of nations and confront dictators, stressing, “All people across the world should know that the dictatorship is supported by the US government.”

President Ahmadinejad said new plots by the United States and its allies are aimed at overcoming oil and gas resources in North Africa and certain countries in the Middle East.  (*)
 
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PM Netanyahu mulls Palestinian state with temporary borders as part of interim peace deal

FILE PICTURE : Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speak during an event about the Middle East peace talks in the East Room at the White House in Washington September 1, 2010. REUTERS/Jim Young

JERUSALEM, March 2, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) — Apparent move is a step back from the Prime Minister’s previous statement, according to which Netanyahu wants to attempt to reach a final-status agreement within a year, Haaretz reported on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering a plan to cooperate with the Palestinians on the establishment of a Palestinian state with temporary borders, as part of an interim peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority that would be implemented immediately, sources in the Prime Minister’s Office said on Tuesday.

Netanyahu’s decision to consider changing his strategy, which he said in recent consultations with advisers was spurred by the recent anti-government protests in the Arab world, is a step back from his previous statement that he wants to attempt to reach a final-status agreement within a year.

“The Palestinians aren’t ready to reach a final-status agreement to end the conflict, in light of the instability in the region,” Netanyahu reportedly said.

The PMO sources said that at the same time that Netanyahu would be pursuing an interim peace deal, Israel and the PA would negotiate the principles of a future final-status agreement and the Palestinians would receive guarantees regarding the permanent borders of a Palestinian state.

“We don’t want to evade a final-status agreement, but an interim agreement is the way to get there,” a PMO official said.

The details of the plan Netanyahu is considering are not yet clear. It remains to be seen whether Netanyahu is genuinely interested in moving forward with the peace process or is floating a trial balloon with the expectation that the Palestinians will reject the proposal, bolstering the “no partner” claim.

The PMO proposal appears to be based on plans by the head of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has proposed a long-term interim arrangement under which a Palestinian state would be established with temporary borders on 45 percent to 50 percent of the West Bank.

Mofaz has recommended the establishment of a Palestinian state with temporary borders on 60 percent of the West Bank, along with an Israeli commitment that the borders would eventually be aligned with those that preceded the 1967 Six-Day War.

Representatives of the Quartet for Mideast peace – the European Union, Russia, United Nations and United States – will meet today in Brussels to discuss possible methods of renewing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Israeli and Palestinian officials were invited to the meeting, but Netanyahu has decided not to send any Israeli representatives, reportedly because he views it as an attempt to forcibly impose an international initiative on him.

Saeb Erekat, who recently quit as head of the Palestinian negotiating team, will be representing the Palestinians.

Netanyahu told the Quartet that he would send his envoy for the peace process, Isaac Molho, only if there would be direct talks between Molho and Erekat, but the Palestinians would only agree to indirect talks.

Netanyahu tried to receive guarantees from the Obama administration about the meeting’s objectives and the statement that would be released afterward, but didn’t get anywhere. He was about to announce that he was boycotting the summit altogether, but Quartet representatives said in a last-minute compromise that they would come to Jerusalem next week and meet with Molho there.

“The moment there were no direct talks, there was no reason to fly out there,” said a source in the PMO.

 

Diplomat retires in protest


Longtime diplomat Ilan Baruch, who recently served as Israel’s ambassador to South Africa, has taken early retirement to protest the government’s policies, specifically those of Lieberman.

“In the last two years, diplomatic and political messages have been made clearer to the leaders of the country, messages that outrage me and don’t give me rest,” Baruch wrote in his resignation letter. “I find it difficult to represent and explain them with integrity.”   (*)

 

 
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Photostream : Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu visits a school in Nazareth

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, visits a school in the town of Nazareth, northern Israel, Tuesday, March 1, 2011. Netanyahu on Tuesday called for strong international action against the regimes of Libya and Iran. Netanyahu said the world needs to send a message to the people of Libya that they have support in their struggle against ruler Moammar Gadhafi, a message that would be heard in Iran.(AP Photo/Hagai Frid, Haaretz, Pool)

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits a school in the town of Nazareth, northern Israel, Tuesday, March 1, 2011. Netanyahu on Tuesday called for strong international action against the regimes of Libya and Iran. Netanyahu said the world needs to send a message to the people of Libya that they have support in their struggle against ruler Moammar Gadhafi, a message that would be heard in Iran.(AP Photo / Hagai Frid, Haaretz, Pool)

 
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Moscow allocates over $480 million for police pay

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has pledged that law enforcement officers in the capital will receive a competitive salary.

 

MOSCOW, Wednesday March 2, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / RIA NOVOSTI ) — Moscow city authorities said on Wednesday they had allocated 14 billion rubles ($486.6 million) to provide for a pay increase for officers of law enforcement agencies responsible for security in the capital, as reported by RIA NOVOSTI.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has pledged that law enforcement officers in the capital will receive a competitive salary.

A draft federal law on Russia’s police reform came into effect on March 1. It includes changing the name of Russian law enforcers from “militia” to the internationally accepted word “police,” and cutting the number of policemen by 20%, while increasing salaries for those who remain.

A city representative said that the extra payments will be financed from Moscow budget.  (*)

 

 

 
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