Home > News > News in Brief: 13 December 2007

News in Brief: 13 December 2007

A brief list of news for the day:

Central banks move on credit crunch. Central banks around the world have made a co-ordinated effort to stem a mounting credit crisis. The US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank on Wednesday joined forces with the central banks of Canada, England and Switzerland to cut interest rates in an attempt to stimulate the world economy by injecting more cash into the market. (Al Jazeera)

Assad: Alliance with Iran will not be shaken. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon conceded Wednesday that the United States had succeeded in achieving one of its key objectives at the climate conference here, blocking a proposal that called on industrialized nations to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 25 to 40 percent by 2020. (Washington Post)

Kosovo independence in ‘a few days’. Kosovo’s president has declared that the province is just “a few days away” from formally declaring independence from Serbia. Kosovo Albanian leaders have been careful not to say precisely when they plan to declare independence, and say that when they do so, it will be in co-ordination with Western supporters. Sejdiu, too, did not give an exact date. The announcement came as a push by Russia for more talks on Kosovo ran into immediate opposition at the UN Security Council from Western countries who say such talks would be pointless and as Serbia said it would hold presidential elections in January. (Al Jazeera)

DRC descends into violent conflict. An escalating conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo threatened to plunge the war-torn area and newly democratic state into turmoil. A conflict with the Congolese army and renegade Gen. Laurent Nkunda hinges on unresolved issues from the Democratic Republic of Congo’s civil war and undermines national efforts at stabilization. (UPI)

U.S. to Cut 10 Percent of Diplomatic Posts Next Year. Diplomatic posts at the State Department and U.S. embassies worldwide will be cut by 10 percent next year because of heavy staffing demands in Iraq and Afghanistan, Director General Harry Thomas informed the foreign service yesterday. The decision to eliminate the positions reflects the reality that State does not have enough people to fill them. Nearly one-quarter of all diplomatic posts are vacant after hundreds of foreign service officers were sent to embassies in Baghdad and Kabul, and Congress has not provided funding for new hires. Many of the unfilled jobs will no longer be listed as vacancies. (Washington Post)

CFE Treaty Frozen but Russia Ready for Talks. Russia on Wednesday implemented its moratorium on participating in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe but is ready for talks in reviving it, the Foreign Ministry said. The treaty places limits on the number of conventional weapons that can be deployed west of the Ural Mountains. President Vladimir Putin called for the suspension because NATO countries have not ratified a revised version of the treaty, which originally was signed in 1990. (Moscow Times)

Probe seeks former CIA chiefs. Former CIA directors George Tenet and Porter Goss will be asked to testify in a probe of the spy agency’s destruction of interrogation videotapes of suspected terrorists. (The Age)

Caribbean Draws Line in the Sand with EU. Barbados is the venue for a new round of talks starting this week that could make or break efforts to forge an agreement between Caribbean nations and the 27-member European Union for a new trade and aid pact that must be concluded by the end of the month in order to comply with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. Negotiations between the two trade blocs for a new Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) to replace the 2001 Cotonou Agreement have hit a dead end over a series of market access issues related to the list of products that will attract customs duties in the new atmosphere of free trade that is supposed to start in January. (IPS)

Russia, Iran agree on completion schedule for Bushehr plant. Russia and Iran have reached agreement on a schedule for completing construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, which plays a central role in the international tensions over Iran’s nuclear program, an official with the plant’s contractor said Thursday. Construction at the plant has been sporadically delayed amid disputes between Iran and Russia over payment, fuel delivery and other issues. But Russia has remained opposed to a U.S.-led push for international sanctions against Iran for allegedly seeking to develop nuclear weapons. (International Herald Tribune)

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