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Showing posts from May 6, 2013

North Korea Sets Conditions for Reopening Kaesong

North Korea has set conditions for the revival of the jointly-run Kaesong industrial park, which has suspended operations amid escalating tensions.

The North's official Korean Central News Agency quoted a spokesman from the powerful National Defense Commission Sunday as saying that South Korea should stop all hostile acts and military provocation if it is truly worried about Kaesong's future.

The spokesman cited anti-Pyongyang leaflets sent across the border by defectors and the South's preparations for an annual military exercise with the U.S. scheduled for August.

Pyongyang pulled its 53,000 workers and blocked South Korean entry to the facility last month as part of its angry reaction to expanded U.N. sanctions against its latest nuclear test.

Last month, Seoul announced it was removing its nationals from Kaesong after Pyongyang rejected an offer to hold talks on restarting the complex.

The last seven South Korean workers left the complex Friday, ending the final peaceful ti…

Libya bans ex-Gaddafi officials from office

New "political isolation" law, passed under duress, could unseat the prime minister and other top officials.

Libya's parliament has voted to ban anyone who held a senior position during Muammar Gaddafi's 42-year rule from government, a move which could unseat the prime minister and other top officials regardless of their part in toppling the dictator.

Politicians debated the draft law for months, but the issue came to a head this week when heavily armed groups took control of two ministries and stormed other institutions including the state broadcaster.

The decision to hold the vote under duress could embolden the armed groups to use force again to assert their will over parliament.

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, a diplomat under Gaddafi who defected to the exiled opposition in 1980, could be among those barred from office, although this remained unclear and a parliament spokesman said it would be decided by a committee charged with implementing the law.

"Being unjust t…

Syria warns Israel after 'latest air raids'

Alleged attacks "open the door to all possibilities", Syria's information minister says, as Arab League urges UN action.

Syria's information minister has warned that Israeli air raids against three targets on the outskirts of Damascus "open the door to all possibilities".

Omran al-Zoubie's comments in Damascus on Sunday came after an emergency cabinet meeting organised to respond to what a Western source said was a new attack on Iranian missiles bound for Lebanon's Hezbollah.

Although Zoubie did not hint at a concrete course of action, he said it was Syria's duty to protect the state from any "domestic or foreign attack through all available means".

He claimed the Israeli attacks are evidence of the country's links with "Islamic extremist groups" trying to the Syrian government.

Israel declined to confirm the attack so as not to pressure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad into serious retaliation, according to a confidant of Be…

Egypt police: Men fire birdshot at PM's convoy

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian police officials say five men in a pick-up truck fired birdshot at the prime minister's convoy during a traffic argument, not knowing he was inside.

They say Prime Minister Hesham Kandil's three-car convoy was on a Cairo bridge late Sunday when it encountered the speeding truck, and fired warning shots in the air to get it to move.

The men fired birdshot at the convoy. They later told police they didn't realize the prime minister was inside one of the tinted-windowed cars.

The men were promptly arrested. Police said they had apparently been racing to their home neighborhood after getting into a fight with people elsewhere.

Police officials, who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to speak to the press, say the incident was not politically motivated.

UN chief voices concern at Israeli air strikes on Syria

United Nations, May 6, 2013 (IANS)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has voiced "grave concern" at reported Israeli air strikes on Syria, and called on all sides to "exercise maximum calm and restraint".

"The secretary-general expresses grave concern over reports of air strikes in Syria by the Israeli Air Force," Xinhua quoted a statement issued by Ban's spokesman as saying.
"At this time, the United Nations does not have details of the reported incidents," the statement said.

"Nor is the United Nations in a position to independently verify what has occurred," it added.

Media reports said Syria has deployed missile defence batteries towards Israel in response to the Israeli attack that targeted a Syrian army facility in the capital city of Damascus Sunday.

Syria's state media accused Israel of trying to give a boost to the Syrian rebels. The Israeli government has so far made no official comment on the reported attack.

The UN statement…

UN Has Testimony That Syrian Rebels Used Sarin Gas - Investigator

By Reuters

May 06, 2013  -"Reuters" - May 5 (Reuters) - U.N. human rights investigators have gathered testimony from casualties of Syria's civil war and medical staff indicating that rebel forces have used the nerve agent sarin, one of the lead investigators said on Sunday.

The United Nations independent commission of inquiry on Syria has not yet seen evidence of government forces having used chemical weapons, which are banned under international law, said commission member Carla Del Ponte.

"Our investigators have been in neighbouring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals and, according to their report of last week which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated," Del Ponte said in an interview with Swiss-Italian television.

"This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities," she added, s…