Home > News > News in Brief: 3 September 2007

News in Brief: 3 September 2007

A brief list of news for the day:

China to report military data to UN. China says it will provide the United Nations with information on its military spending and arms deals for the first time in more than a decade. The move appears to be a response to international calls for greater transparency on its defence spending and operations. (Al Jazeera)

Britain pulls troops out of Iraq’s Basra city. After four and a half inconclusive years of fighting, British forces during the night slipped out of their last base in the Iraqi oil port of Basra, handing control on Monday to their Iraqi comrades. The move comes amid heightened tensions between the United States and Britain, its closest ally in Iraq, over their policy in the war-torn nation. (AFP)

Pentagon won’t make surge recommendation to Bush. In a sign that top commanders are divided over what course to pursue in Iraq, the Pentagon said Wednesday that it won’t make a single, unified recommendation to President Bush during next month’s strategy assessment, but instead will allow top commanders to make individual presentations. “Consensus is not the goal of the process,” Geoff Morrell, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters. “If there are differences, the president will hear them.” Military analysts called the move unusual for an institution that ordinarily does not air its differences in public, especially while its troops are deployed in combat. (McClatchy)

Pyongyang’s nuclear dividend. US says Kim Jong-Il has agreed to dismantle nuclear facilities by end of year as secrecy gives way to beginnings of openness. In the coming days, Japan will discuss the possibility of normalising relations. Next month, Kim Jong-il will meet the South Korean president, Roh Moo-hyun, in only the second cross-border summit since the 1953 armistice. The US has relaxed its financial squeeze and resumed shipments of fuel oil. Even before the nuclear test, it had begun pulling troops from the border and cutting its presence in South Korea from 37,000 to 29,000 personnel. (Guardian)

Taliban Taunt Musharraf by Detaining His Soldiers. The seriousness of the challenge to Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s authority in the remote tribal areas bordering Afghanistan was apparent this week when the Taliban captured 180 soldiers in two separate incidents. On Thursday, the Taliban audaciously abducted more than 150 soldiers in the volatile South Waziristan Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATAs). And on Friday another 30 soldiers who were members of a convoy, were taken prisoner, a local journalist from Wana, South Waziristan. (IPS)

Bangladesh former PM is arrested. The military-backed interim government in Bangladesh has detained former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and her son. Ms Zia was refused bail in a Dhaka court and jailed as she awaits trial, her lawyer said. She faces charges of extortion and corruption. Hours earlier, new corruption charges were made against another former Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, who is already accused of extortion and murder. The interim government has arrested 150 politicians in a corruption crackdown. Bangladesh has been under emergency rule since January, when the interim government cancelled elections. It has banned most political activity. (BBC)

Close election expected as Jamaicans go to polls. Jamaicans head to the polls on Monday in what is expected to be a close election as their Caribbean island heals from a brush with a monster hurricane, warily eyes another and frets over recent political violence. (Reuters)

Zimbabwe: Govt Takes Over U.S. firm. The government has taken over Olivine Holdings following the acquisition of a 49 percent shareholding from H. J. Heinz of the United States by the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe for US$6,8million. The takeover was done through the Industrial Development Corporation. Government already had a 49 percent stake in Olivine while it has shareholdings in both Cottco and the IDC. The deal means Olivine becomes the first company the Government has acquired since it indicated that it would take over companies which stopped production in the wake of the price freeze. (allAfrica)

Palestinians Poorer Than Ever. Poverty in the Palestinian territories has reached “unprecedented levels” because they have been held under an “economic siege” for almost seven years, a United Nations body has found. During 2006 the number of Palestinians living in ‘deep poverty’ almost doubled to more than 1 million. Some 46 percent of public sector employees do not have enough food to meet their basic needs, with 53 percent of households in the Gaza reporting that their incomes declined in the last year by more than half. This data is contained in a report, released Aug. 30, by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). (IPS)

Bush’s $50B Plan Surprises DoD, Congress. Word that the White House plans to ask for an extra $50 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan “came as a surprise to us,” an aide to a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee said. Although members of Congress and Pentagon officials expected there would be a request for more money, they did not expect it to be for so much. President George W. Bush has already asked Congress for $147 billion to fund the wars in 2008. An extra $50 billion would push the total to $197 billion. War costs for 2007 total $173 billion, according to the Congressional Research Service. The extra $50 billion likely signals Bush intends to maintain the surge of 30,000 extra troops in Iraq well into next spring, said P.J. Crowley, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. (Defense News)

Russia To Deploy More New Ballistic Missiles: IFAX. Russia will carry out a second deployment of new intercontinental ballistic missiles in December as part of President Vladimir Putin’s program to modernize nuclear defences, local media reported Sept. 1. The deployments come at a time of strained relations between Russia and NATO over U.S. plans for a missile defense shield in eastern Europe. Moscow argues this would threaten its security while Washington insists it is designed only to defend against attack by what it sees as ‘rogue nations’, such as Iran. (Defense News/Reuters)

UN chief visits Sudan to prepare ground for Darfur relief mission. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon arrives in Sudan today for talks with President Omar al-Bashir, as aid agencies and diplomats warn that the situation in Darfur is deteriorating. As well as trying to smooth the way for a speedy deployment of a joint UN/African Union force of 26,000 personnel, Mr Ban is planning to press the Sudanese leader to sit down again with the Darfur rebels, now that the numerous factions have agreed a common negotiating position. (The Independent)

Lebanese troops seize camp from Islamists. Lebanese troops seized control on Sunday of a Palestinian refugee camp from die-hard Islamists, achieving what Prime Minister Fuad Siniora called their ”biggest victory over terrorists.” Following a siege of more than three months, Nahr Al Bared fell to a mass assault after troops killed at least 37 Islamist militants making a desperate pre-dawn attempt to break the siege, army and security sources said. (Khaleej Times/AFP)

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