Home > News > News in Brief: 18 December 2007

News in Brief: 18 December 2007

A brief list of news of the day:

U.S. Helps Turkey Hit Rebel Kurds In Iraq. The United States is providing Turkey with real-time intelligence that has helped the Turkish military target a series of attacks this month against Kurdish separatists holed up in northern Iraq, including a large airstrike on Sunday, according to Pentagon officials. The United States is “essentially handing them their targets,” one U.S. military official said. The Turkish military then decides whether to act on the information and notifies the United States, the official said. (Washington Post)

Turkish troops move into northern Iraq. A group of 300 Turkish soldiers have crossed the border into Iraq, days after warplanes bombed Kurdish villages in the north of the country. The troops moved around 3km into the mountainous Gali Rash area on Monday night, but there have so far been no reports of clashes. (Gulf News)

India: IAEA alone should probe Tehran’s nuclear case. Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon has held crucial talks with the Iranian Foreign Minister and the head of the National Security Council, signalling New Delhi’s intent to reengage with Tehran. Mr. Menon said Tehran’s nuclear case should be investigated “only” by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported. According to IRNA, Mr. Menon said Iran was a factor of “stability and security” in the region. The Iranian daily Tehran Times quoted the Foreign Secretary as saying: “New Delhi is prepared to develop its relations with Iran not only in Southwest Asia but also in all other important and strategic areas.” India “is interested in establishing a strategic partnership with Iran in the areas of energy, transport, and security.” Mr. Menon’s trip precedes the visit to Tehran by a Pakistan delegation, which would discuss the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project. (The Hindu)

India, Vietnam Bolster Defense Ties. India has greatly improved defense ties with Vietnam during the Dec. 16-18 visit by Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony to Vietnam, Indian officials said. A.K. Antony announced at the meeting with his counterpart, Gen. Phung Quang Thanh in Hanoi, that New Delhi will transfer 5,000 spare parts to help make Vietnam’s aging Petya-class ships operational, the statement said. Indian Defence Ministry officials say New Delhi also has accepted Hanoi’s request to train their 50 naval dockyard personnel at Mazagon Docks, where they will learn advanced warship-building and repair skills. India is also considering selling an unspecified number of offshore patrol vessels and fast-attack craft at discount rates to Vietnam. (Defense News)

ECB pumps in extra €170bn. Emergency help for financial markets has entered new territory with the European Central Bank pumping-in almost €170bn extra liquidity at below market interest rates in a special operation to head off a year-end liquidity crisis. (FT)

Russia wants more clarity on U.S. anti-missile plan. Russia wants more concrete reasons from Washington as to why it plans to build an anti-missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday. The United States has announced plans for a missile defense system in Central Europe. It wants to station interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic. (Reuters)

Czech Republic: More Loyal Than… A report by U.S. intelligence services minimising the Iranian threat has meant another embarrassment for Czech politicians supportive of U.S. plans to set up a radar base in Central-Eastern Europe. The radar system — which Washington claims will protect the West from missile attacks by “rogue states” such as Iran and North Korea — would consist of a radar in the Czech Republic and an anti-missile base in Poland. (IPS)

Japan tests anti-missile system. Japan has for the first time shot down a ballistic missile, testing a defence system aimed at warding off potential missile threats from its neighbours. (BBC)

Putin says he will become Prime Minister if Medvedev wins. Russian President Vladimir Putin says he will accept the post of Prime Minister if his protoge Dmitry Medvedev wins the 2008 presidential election. (Gulf News)

Ailing Castro hints at retirement. Cuba’s ailing leader, Fidel Castro, has hinted at possible retirement, saying he does not want to “cling” to power. (Guardian)

South Africa: Counting the Cost of Polokwane. Alarming inflation figures and a hotly contested leadership battle within the African National Congress (ANC) might unnerve local markets this week, adding to pressure from global credit jitters. The South African markets were shut yesterday. However, offshore traders say investors have now priced in the assumption that Zuma will assume leadership of the party, putting him on course to become SA’s next president. This means that, barring any shock news from Polokwane, figures confirming that both consumer and factory inflation rose last month are likely to take precedence this week. (allAfrica)

South Africa: Food Security Hobbles Biofuel Strategy. Worried that it may be seen as insensitive to the food needs of Africa, the South African government, which is facing a general election in 2009, has chosen food security in framing a biofuel policy. After months of dilly-dallying, a strategy for the biofuel sector was accepted by the cabinet last week. But the Thabo Mbeki government excluded maize, a life-saving export during times of recurring drought in Southern Africa. By 2014, 30 percent of farm land has to be in the hands of black owners. But the transfer process has been very slow, sparking fears that the restive masses could resort to largescale takeover of agricultural holdings belonging to white farmers, as in neighbouring Zimbabwe. (IPS)

UK Guantanamo detainee near suicide after years of torture, doctors warn. A British resident being held in Guantanamo Bay may be close to suicide after five years of captivity and torture at the hands of the Americans, the Foreign Secretary David Miliband has been warned in a medical report sent to the Government this week. (The Independent)

Chávez supporters denounce corruption. After suffering a defeat on proposed constitutional reforms, President Hugo Chávez’s administration will face a new battle: the growing denouncements made by chavistas about official corruption in Venezuela. This week, a group of councilmen from the municipality of Sucre in the city of Petare, who are members of the Fifth Republic Movement (MVR) that supports Chávez, denounced that $18 million that came from tax collection had vanished from the municipal coffers. (McClatchy)

Hungary first in EU to ratify Lisbon Treaty. Hungary has become the first European Union country to ratify the EU’s new charter, the Lisbon Treaty. The treaty is a stripped-down version of the European Constitution. The remaining EU member states are scheduled to ratify the treaty by June 2009. Ireland will hold a referendum while the rest of the member states will let their parliaments decide. (Deutche-Welle)

New York millionaires guilty in ‘modern day slavery’ case. A jury yesterday convicted a millionaire couple of enslaving two Indonesian women they brought to their New York mansion to work as housekeepers, subjecting them to repeated psychological and physical abuse and forcing them to work 18 hours or more a day. (The Independent)

$5.1B Proposed in Sales, Upgrades, Weapons for Pakistan’s F-16s. On June 28/06, the US DSCA notified Congress via a series of releases of its intention to provide Pakistan with a $5.1 billion Foreign Military Sales package to upgrade the F-16s that serve as the PAF’s top of the line fighters. (Defense Industry Daily)

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