南京夜网

Kashmir projects stir old border tensions

NEW DELHI: In a simmering spat with China involving border disputes, long-standing mistrust and domestic electoral politics, India’s Foreign Ministry has called on Beijing to halt work on all projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.The demand followed an announcement on Tuesday by the leaders of China and Pakistan that their nations would upgrade a cross-border highway and that China would lend support to a hydroelectric venture. Both projects are in the Pakistan-occupied portion of Kashmir, which India claims.India and China have eyed each other warily since at least 1962, when they fought a month-long border war. China has long been allied with Pakistan, which in turn has fought three wars with India over the past six decades.The latest Indian salvo followed a protest on Tuesday by China after India’s Prime Minister visited the state of Arunachal Pradesh, portions of which China claims, and allegations that Chinese troops fired into India and crossed the border, leaving ”China” painted in red ink on rock faces.China has begun issuing visas to Indian citizens from Arunachal Pradesh and disputed Jammu and Kashmir on paper separate from their passports. New Delhi has threatened to tighten visa rules for Chinese working in India and to discontinue granting them business visas in favour of more restrictive work visas.The Chinese construction projects and the visit of India’s Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, to Arunachal Pradesh were anticipated and hardly surprising. In fact, given that there were mechanisms to address the border disputes, the protests might be a bit of posturing on both sides for domestic consumption, analysts said.”I don’t think it will have any long-term impact,” said Rukmani Gupta, a research fellow at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies in New Delhi. ”Still, these escalating protests are hardly conducive to the dialogue process.”Mr Singh’s visit focused on shoring up his governing Congress Party’s position in the lead-up to elections on Tuesday in Arunachal Pradesh and two other states.”Congress has to keep winning state elections; there’s no international objectives,” said R.Hariharan, a retired military intelligence specialist. ”They [the Chinese] don’t really understand that on the other side. They have no elections.”The two nations have held 13 rounds of talks over the past three decades to try to resolve their border disputes. These stem in part from the 1962 war but, more fundamentally, from demarcations made during the British empire that India recognises but China does not.Another factor in recent tensions, analysts said, was the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader living in northern India. He plans to travel to Arunachal Pradesh next month to visit a site revered by Tibetan Buddhists.Los Angeles Times
Nanjing Night Net

南京夜网

Republicans use icy attack on renegade

WASHINGTON: Conservative Republicans have begun sending bags of salt to Olympia Snowe’s Maine office as part of a protest at her decision to break ranks and vote for a compromise version of Barack Obama’s health-care scheme.Salt is used on US roads to melt snow.”Olympia Snowe has sold out the country. Having been banished to our world after Aslan chased her out of Narnia, Snowe is intent on corrupting this place too. So we should melt her,” said one of the organisers of the rock salt protest.At this stage, Senator Snowe is the only Republican to support the bill but the other Maine senator, Susan Collins, may join her, depending on what emerges from the next several weeks of negotiations among the authors of the five versions now in existence.The Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, called for weeks of debate on such an important bill, noting that the Senate had spent seven weeks on education legislation and a month on the farm bill.Initially there had been hopes the bill might be passed before the December recess but most strategists now believe early next year is more realistic.Meanwhile, lawmakers are bracing for a massive campaign from all sides of the debate, from insurers, doctors, patient groups, unions, senior citizens’ groups and drug companies.According to estimates, more than $US120 million ($130 million) has already been spent on TV advertisements lobbying for or against reform but that could easily double before the legislative process is complete.Meanwhile, the Democrat Senate leader, Harry Reid, will have his work cut out convincing some conservative Democrats to support even the compromise bill.”There are many competing views on how best to reform health care within my caucus,” he said. ”I know this isn’t going to be easy.”But the former president Bill Clinton expressed optimism that health-care reform – something that eluded him – would get through this time.”Republicans can’t filibuster in the Senate,” he said.”If there were 45 Republicans in the Senate, Senator Snowe’s vote wouldn’t matter … This time the numbers are different. We have Snowe and if we don’t lose any Democrats … then ‘Katy, bar the door!’ ” he said.
Nanjing Night Net

南京夜网

Aid given to Sri Lanka to stem people smuggling

AUSTRALIA is preparing to provide police assistance to Sri Lanka to help combat people smuggling, including training for local officers. The Government is also paying Indonesia to hold more asylum seekers in Indonesia.The Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O’Connor, said yesterday that he had discussed measures with the Sri Lankan Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, at an Interpol meeting in Singapore this week. Thousands of refugees have fled Sri Lanka since a military campaign against Tamil separatists this year, and many remain in refugee camps.Mr O’Connor said the Australian Federal Police could support training for Sri Lankan police officers and provide logistical aid, such as computers, cameras and evidence collection kits.A spokesman for Mr O’Connor said: ”This was an especially productive meeting … Australia will provide the Sri Lankan Government much needed resources to assist Sri Lankan authorities to combat people smuggling.”The AFP is setting up a liaison post in Sri Lanka as part of a $48 million people-smuggling program announced this year.Over the next four years Australia will pay Indonesia more than $14 million to help stop asylum seekers coming here, including $1 million to ”enhance capacity” at its two detention centres and $5 million for community housing.The funding adds to at least $70 million poured into the partnership over the past 10 years.In the past, Australia has refurbished two detention centres in Jakarta and Tanjung Pinang at a cost of $7.7 million. That was in 2007. It has also funded a range of border staff to study English and take post-graduate courses in Australia, an upgrade of the nation’s border alert system and training for officials to identify false documents.Another $1 million over the next two years would help Indonesia ”enhance its detention capacity”, a spokesman for the Immigration Department said.A further $5 million would provide community housing for intercepted irregular migrants in Indonesia, he said. Another $8 million, announced earlier, would support outreach offices around Indonesia, near the main people smuggling routes.Yesterday the Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, said he was confident Indonesia would treat asylum seekers humanely. He acknowledged Australia could not meet the demand of people seeking safe haven worldwide. ”The numbers are huge. They come in around 11 million people, and the reality is we’ve got to find durable solutions in home countries or in transit countries.”The Opposition Leader, Malcolm Turnbull, said the Government’s policies had filled Christmas Island to overflowing.
Nanjing Night Net

南京夜网

Estrada promises presidential encore

MANILA: The former Philippine leader Joseph Estrada, ousted in a popular uprising in 2001 and later convicted of corruption, says he will stand again for president in next year’s elections.”Yes, I will run,” Mr Estrada, 72, said when asked to confirm press reports of his decision.The former action-movie star said he had chosen Jejomar Binay, the popular Mayor of Manila’s Makati financial district and a leader of the political opposition, as his vice-presidential candidate.Mr Estrada said he would make a formal announcement of his decision at the Santo Nino church in the impoverished Manila district of Tondo next Wednesday.Tondo was the setting of many of his past movies, in which he gained enormous national popularity by playing tough-guy roles as a defender of the poor and downtrodden.Mr Estrada represents the United Opposition, a coalition of two influential parties that have been critical of the President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.However, there are two strong opposition contenders representing other parties in next year’s elections: Benigno Aquino, the son of the late democracy icon and former president Corazon Aquino, and a billionaire property developer, Manny Villar.The Defence Secretary, Gilberto Teodoro, will represent Ms Arroyo’s ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD coalition.Mr Estrada said he was confident of victory in the election due in May 2010. ”I will not run for the presidency if I’m not sure I’ll win.’Mr Estrada said his edge would be his experience, having climbed the political ladder first as a town mayor, a senator and a vice-president before a landslide victory as the country’s 13th president in 1998.His term, however, was cut short by a military-backed popular revolt in 2001, amid accusations he amassed wealth from illegal gambling kickbacks and shady deals amounting to tens of millions of dollars.He was convicted of large-scale graft and sentenced to life in jail in 2007.But Ms Arroyo, who played a key role in deposing him when she served as his vice-president, pardoned him six weeks later.Agence France-Presse
Nanjing Night Net

南京夜网

We were wrong on Gaza war report, says Palestine PM

RAMALLAH: The Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, has conceded that his Government’s mishandling of a United Nations report on the war in Gaza has strengthened its political rival, Hamas.Under pressure from the US, the Palestinian leadership refused to endorse the Goldstone report, sparking furious protests across the West Bank and Gaza Strip.The severity of the backlash forced the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, to reverse the decision. The report was highly critical of Israel’s bombardment and invasion of Gaza in December and January, saying actions by it – and by Hamas – amounted to war crimes.The UN Human Rights Council is due to begin debate today on a move to censure Israel over the Gaza war.The Palestinians are also calling on the Human Rights Council to condemn Israel’s recent closure of the Haram al-Sharif, or Temple Mount, area and demand that UN institutions oblige Israel to end the siege of the Gaza Strip.”There is no question that [our handling of the Goldstone Report] has caused major weakness for the Palestinian Authority,” Mr Fayyad told a foreign press briefing in Ramallah yesterday. “That is obvious. That is what we all witnessed.”The perception we had not done everything to safeguard the interests of the Palestinian people has also strengthened the hand of those who do not subscribe to our point of view of adherence to international law, and negotiation through a peaceful process.”Mr Fayyad said he expected the report to be passed up through normal channels of the UN. “We would like to see the report go through due process, as is normal in the operations of the Human Rights Council under international law.”He also strongly backed the US President’s handling of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.Asked if he had lost confidence in Barack Obama, Mr Fayyad said: “No. Obviously we haven’t and we will not. US leadership is essential to making this happen, as is the direct and strong involvement of the European Union, and the Quartet [the US, UN, EU and Russia].”We are disappointed that we are not seeing the process move faster, but that is not to say that we have lost hope.”Mr Fayyad repeatedly emphasised that the Palestinian Authority remained committed to the principles of a sovereign, independent Palestinian state as laid out under the terms of the ”road map” for peace.”We have implemented our obligations under the road map. Israel on the other hand cannot even fulfil its obligation to offer unequivocal support for an independent, sovereign Palestinian state.”Israel was yesterday preparing a vigorous diplomatic campaign to stymie attempts by the Human Rights Council to censure it over the war in Gaza.The Israeli public relations campaign will chiefly be divided between four people: the President, Shimon Peres; the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu; the Defence Minister, Ehud Barak; and the Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman.Each of them has received a list with a number of heads of state with whom he will talk and ask them not to support the Goldstone report.Israel will warn that adopting the report means ending the peace process, because it will not agree to wage a legal-diplomatic battle at the same time as it is conducting a peace process.
Nanjing Night Net