Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Seeking Saudi cooperation on Afghanistan and Pakistan

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saudiPrime Minister Manmohan Singh is making the first visit to Saudi Arabia by an Indian leader since 1982, seeking to build economic ties and to enlist the kingdom's help in improving regional security. While much of the focus is likely to be on securing oil supplies for India's growing economy, the visit is also part of the complex manoeuvres by regional players jostling for position on Afghanistan and beyond.

Singh told Saudi journalists ahead of the visit that he would discuss with Saudi King Abdullah how to promote greater stability and security in the region.  "Both King Abdullah and I reject the notion that any cause justifies wanton violence against innocent people. We are strong allies against the scourge of extremism and terrorism that affects global peace and security," he said.

Junior Foreign Minister Shashi Tharoor also said India could seek Saudi support in persuading Pakistan to act against Pakistan-based Islamist militant groups -- later adding however this did not mean looking for Saudi mediation (anathema to India which sees no room for third party involvement in its relationship with Pakistan).

"Saudi Arabia of course has a long and close relationship with Pakistan but that makes Saudi Arabia all the more a valuable interlocutor for us," he said. "When we tell them about our experience, Saudi Arabia listens as somebody who is not anyway an enemy of Pakistan but rather as a friend of Pakistan, and therefore I am sure listens with sympathy and concern to a matter of this nature."

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan, India and the Kabul attack

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kabulAs discussed in my last post, the place to watch for developments on relations between India and Pakistan right now is more likely to be Kabul than Kashmir. That may have been graphically illustrated when Taliban fighters attacked Kabul on Friday, killing 16 people, including up to nine Indians.

It is too early to say whether the attack specifically targetted Indian interests or whether it was aimed at foreigners more generally. But India has blamed earlier attacks on its interests in Afghanistan on Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency -- its embassy in Kabul has been bombed twice.

U.N. official clarifies ‘elation’ at Haiti rape reports

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The deputy head of the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, Anthony Banbury, raised some eyebrows this week when he told journalists that reports of only three recent rapes in the impoverished Caribbean nation “almost elates me” — ostensibly because the situation could be much worse.

A day later Banbury issued a statement clarifying his views on the issue:
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“My remarks make clear my strong commitment to human rights protection issues, and my conviction that three rapes is ‘far too many’. I said that reports of only three rapes ‘almost elates me’ because of deep concern – by myself and human rights protection experts – that the large numbers of people who are living in cramped and onerous conditions in displaced persons camps could lead to serious protection issues, especially with regard to sexual violence against women and children. If the total number of rape cases is indeed three, while ‘far too many’, it would show that efforts by the U.N. and our partners to enhance protection measures for women and children in the camps were working to a large extent, and our worst fears were not materializing. This would be a source of encouragement. I have dedicated many years to protecting the human rights of vulnerable populations, and my career to public service. Far from belittling the crime of rape, my clear intention was to convey a sense of U.N. commitment and concern about human rights protection.”

The comic books that brainwash North Koreans

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By Geoffrey Cain

SEOUL, South Korea — Heinz Insu Fenkl, a literature professor at the State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz, has cracked one secret to understanding the bizarre regime of North Korea: by reading its comic books.

The academic, who refers to himself as an American-Korean, spends hours in his office tucked away in upstate New York, churning out English translations of the rare books (called “gruim-chaek” in North Korea) after he gathers them at shops in China and from colleagues who travel to Pyongyang.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan, India send in their professional diplomats to break the stalemate

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raobashirThe foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan, meeting in New Delhi to end a diplomatic freeze which followed the November 2008 attack on Mumbai, did what they were expected to do -- laid out all the issues which divide the two countries and agreed to "keep in touch".

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, India's top diplomat, focused on what India calls "cross-border terrorism". India also handed three new dossiers of evidence to the Pakistani delegation, including one on Hafez Saeed, the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group, who New Delhi accuses of masterminding the Mumbai attack. Pakistan had said it did not have enough evidence to prosecute Saeed.

Of Greece, the EU and high-stakes financial chicken

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Fitch, one of the big three credit ratings agencies, has made some positive noises on behalf of Greece, briefly bucking the onslaught of negative comment.

Speaking in an interview with Reuters,  a Fitch analyst said there was no reason to cut the country’s credit rating from its current BBB+ just yet,  although he was keeping a very close eye on the situation and maintaining a negative outlook.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Towards a regional settlement in Afghanistan (Redux squared)

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arghandabRegular readers of this blog will know we have been talking for a long time about finding a regional solution to Afghanistan. The argument -- much touted during President Barack Obama's election campaign -- was that you could stabilise the country if you persuaded the many regional players with a stake in Afghanistan -- including Iran, Pakistan, India, Russia and China -- to cooperate rather than compete in finding a political settlement to what was effectively an unwinnable war.

The argument looked at best utopian, at worst a description of the delicate balance of power in the early 20th century that was meant to keep the peace but in reality led to the outbreak of World War One.  It is now resurfacing again as public opinion in western countries -- including in staunch U.S. ally Britain -- turns against the long war in Afghanistan.

from Africa News blog:

What can Nigeria expect now?

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Ambulance.jpgThe return of Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua three months after he left for a Saudi hospital might normally have beeen seen as a sign that a long spell of debilitating uncertainty was over.

But this was no ordinary return for a long absent president with an army band and a red carpet.

Sniping mars EU image and unity

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Herman Van Rompuy

Herman Van Rompuy

The European Union seems to have developed a habit of shooting itself in the foot.

The latest self-inflicted wound was an attack on Wednesday by a euro-sceptic British member of the European Parliament who dismissed Herman Van Rompuy, the new EU president, as a “damp rag” who had no legitimacy and threatened democracy. 

‘Stop me before I bet again in Singapore’

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A performer holds over-sized deck cards in front of the Resorts World Sentosa casino Feb. 14 (REUTERS/Pablo Sanchez)

SINGAPORE-CASINO/At least 264 people in Singapore have asked to be put on a list that would prevent them from entering the city state’s newly opened casino. Except for nine housewives and 19 unemployed people, the rest had jobs and probably families that they did not want to hurt with a gambling problem. Family members who think a relative might have a gambling problem can also apply to have them banned.

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