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Monthly Archives: June 2010

PM Netanyahu Urges Russia to Pressure Hamas for Gilad Shalit Release

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – JUNE 27: In this handout image provided by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO), Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyau (R) meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov June 27, 2010 in Jerusalem, Israel.


Photostream : Israeli Soldier Gilad Shalit Still Alive: http://wp.me/pL1vT-1sO

PM Netanyahu : My heart is with Shalit, family. : http://wp.me/pL1vT-1t2

Medvedev to Mashaal: Free Gilad Schalit

Junw 29, 2010

(San Francisco Sentinel.Com)   Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday asked Russia to exert influence on Hamas to bring about the immediate release of captured Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit.

In talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Netanyahu asked Moscow to take advantage of its relations with the Islamist group to push for a prisoner swap deal that would free Shalit after four years in captivity.

The family of the abducted soldier, seized by Palestinian militants in a 2006 cross-border raid from the Gaza Strip, arrived in the Haifa area on Tuesday with some 3,000 supporters on the third day of a protest march to the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem.

Marchers aim to reach Jerusalem on Friday after setting out on Sunday from the Shalit family home in the Galilee town of Mitzpeh Hila.

Shalit’s parents, Noam and Aviva, said last week that they would remain in a protest tent outside Netanyahu’s residence until their son was released and could go home with them.

Also on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said following his meeting with Lavrov that there was “absolutely no chance of reaching a Palestinian state before the year 2012″.

Lieberman reportedly told Lavrov, who arrived in Israel on an official visit, that Israel opposed Russia’s recent advances toward Hamas. Lavrov responded that it was impossible to ignore the Islamist organization’s popularity amongst Palestinians, particularly in Gaza.

The reported closed-door disagreement quickly became a public one, as the Russian minister openly defended his country’s Middle East policy.

“Russia is doing the right thing by contacting Hamas,” adding that “doing nothing would help no one,” Lavrov said in a joint press conference with Lieberman. “In all our talks with Hamas we have tried to convince them to switch to the political track, and support the Arab peace initiative.”

Lieberman, in turn, dismissed the disagreement, saying that the fact that the two nations were conducting dialogue in the matter was no secret.

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PM Netanyahu Urges Russia to Pressure Hamas for Gilad Shalit Release

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – JUNE 27: In this handout image provided by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO), Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyau (R) meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov June 27, 2010 in Jerusalem, Israel.


Photostream : Israeli Soldier Gilad Shalit Still Alive: http://wp.me/pL1vT-1sO

PM Netanyahu : My heart is with Shalit, family. : http://wp.me/pL1vT-1t2

Medvedev to Mashaal: Free Gilad Schalit

Junw 29, 2010

(San Francisco Sentinel.Com)   Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday asked Russia to exert influence on Hamas to bring about the immediate release of captured Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit.

In talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Netanyahu asked Moscow to take advantage of its relations with the Islamist group to push for a prisoner swap deal that would free Shalit after four years in captivity.

The family of the abducted soldier, seized by Palestinian militants in a 2006 cross-border raid from the Gaza Strip, arrived in the Haifa area on Tuesday with some 3,000 supporters on the third day of a protest march to the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem.

Marchers aim to reach Jerusalem on Friday after setting out on Sunday from the Shalit family home in the Galilee town of Mitzpeh Hila.

Shalit’s parents, Noam and Aviva, said last week that they would remain in a protest tent outside Netanyahu’s residence until their son was released and could go home with them.

Also on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said following his meeting with Lavrov that there was “absolutely no chance of reaching a Palestinian state before the year 2012″.

Lieberman reportedly told Lavrov, who arrived in Israel on an official visit, that Israel opposed Russia’s recent advances toward Hamas. Lavrov responded that it was impossible to ignore the Islamist organization’s popularity amongst Palestinians, particularly in Gaza.

The reported closed-door disagreement quickly became a public one, as the Russian minister openly defended his country’s Middle East policy.

“Russia is doing the right thing by contacting Hamas,” adding that “doing nothing would help no one,” Lavrov said in a joint press conference with Lieberman. “In all our talks with Hamas we have tried to convince them to switch to the political track, and support the Arab peace initiative.”

Lieberman, in turn, dismissed the disagreement, saying that the fact that the two nations were conducting dialogue in the matter was no secret.

PM Netanyahu to Lavrov: Pressure Hamas

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – JUNE 27: In this handout image provided by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO), Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyau (R) meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov June 27, 2010 in Jerusalem, Israel.

Photostream : Israeli Soldier Gilad Shalit Still Alive: http://wp.me/pL1vT-1sO

PM Netanyahu : My heart is with Shalit, family. : http://wp.me/pL1vT-1t2

Medvedev to Mashaal: Free Gilad Schalit

June 29, 2010

(JERUSALEM POST)  Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Tuesday afternoon, and asked him to “put heavy pressure on Hamas.”

Netanyahu asked Lavrov to use Russia’s ties with the terror organization to help free captive soldier Gilad Schalit.

Lavrov had met with Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman earlier Tuesday, who criticized the Russian FM for his country’s continued ties to Hamas.

Lavrov plans to continue to Ramallah and Cairo on his trip to the Middle East.

The latest appeal from Netanyahu comes on the third day of the continuing “Freedom March” in solidarity with Schalit. The soldier’s mother, Aviva Schalit, said that the Israeli government had failed a number of times in negotiating her son’s release.

PM Netanyahu to Lavrov: Pressure Hamas

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – JUNE 27: In this handout image provided by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO), Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyau (R) meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov June 27, 2010 in Jerusalem, Israel.

Photostream : Israeli Soldier Gilad Shalit Still Alive: http://wp.me/pL1vT-1sO

PM Netanyahu : My heart is with Shalit, family. : http://wp.me/pL1vT-1t2

Medvedev to Mashaal: Free Gilad Schalit

June 29, 2010

(JERUSALEM POST)  Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Tuesday afternoon, and asked him to “put heavy pressure on Hamas.”

Netanyahu asked Lavrov to use Russia’s ties with the terror organization to help free captive soldier Gilad Schalit.

Lavrov had met with Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman earlier Tuesday, who criticized the Russian FM for his country’s continued ties to Hamas.

Lavrov plans to continue to Ramallah and Cairo on his trip to the Middle East.

The latest appeal from Netanyahu comes on the third day of the continuing “Freedom March” in solidarity with Schalit. The soldier’s mother, Aviva Schalit, said that the Israeli government had failed a number of times in negotiating her son’s release.

Photostream : Israeli Soldier Gilad Shalit Still Alive

https://i2.wp.com/cache.daylife.com/imageserve/0c3ld2j5DYbMJ/610x.jpg

Noam and Aviva, the parents of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit wearing white T-shirts with the slogan: ‘Gilad is still alive,’ leave their home on June 27, 2010 in Mitzpe Hila as they set off with other family members and thousands of supporters on a 200-kilometre (120-mile) trek, which is expected to take around 12 days, in a solemn protest march from their hometown near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon to the Jerusalem residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to mark four years since their son was captured by Palestinian militants in Gaza in June 2006. (Photo : Getty)

https://i2.wp.com/cache.daylife.com/imageserve/0fMweoV8TFbA9/610x.jpg

Motorcyclists join the family of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, and thousands of supporters as they set off on June 27, 2010 on a 200-kilometre (120-mile) trek, which is expected to take around 12 days, in a solemn protest march from their hometown Mitzpe Hila nearIsrael’s northern border with Lebanon to the Jerusalem residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to mark four years since their son was captured by Palestinian militants in Gaza in June 2006.

https://i0.wp.com/cache.daylife.com/imageserve/0aLygvd9TA4ml/610x.jpg

The family of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, sets off with thousands of supporters on June 27, 2010 on a 200-kilometre (120-mile) trek, which is expected to take around 12 days, in a solemn protest march from their hometown Mitzpe Hila near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon to the Jerusalem residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to mark four years since their son was captured by Palestinian militants in Gaza in June 2006.

https://i1.wp.com/cache.daylife.com/imageserve/07Ebb9i66Q7hL/x610.jpg

Noam and Aviva Schalit , parents of captured Israeli soldier Gilad, march near their home in Mitzpe Hila, northern Israel, Sunday, June 27, 2010. The family of a captured Israeli soldier is setting out on a 12-day march from Schalit’s home to Jerusalem to press Israeli leaders to make a deal with his Hamas captors to free him. Sgt. Gilad Schalit was taken captive four years ago during a cross-border raid by militants from the Gaza Strip. (Photo : Getty)

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Noam (2nd L), the father of captive soldier Gilad Shalit, sets off on June 27, 2010 with other family members, wearing white T-shirts with the slogan: ‘Gilad is still alive,’ on a 200-kilometre (120-mile) trek, which is expected to take around 12 days, in a solemn protest march from their hometown Mitzpe Hila near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon to the Jerusalem residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to mark four years since their son was captured by Palestinian militants in Gaza in June 2006. (Photo : Getty)

https://i0.wp.com/cache.daylife.com/imageserve/091q2Te86BgPJ/610x.jpg

Noam (R) and Aviva (C), the parents of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, set off on June 27, 2010 with other family members and thousands of supporters, many wearing white T-shirts with the slogan: ‘Gilad is still alive,’ on a 200-kilometre (120-mile) trek, which is expected to take around 12 days, in a solemn protest march from their hometown Mitzpe Hila near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon to the Jerusalem residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to mark four years since their son was captured by Palestinian militants in Gaza in June 2006. (Photo : Getty)

https://i2.wp.com/cache.daylife.com/imageserve/0d9dbdk69v3jh/610x.jpg

The family of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, sets off with thousands of supporters on June 27, 2010 on a 200-kilometre (120-mile) trek, which is expected to take around 12 days, in a solemn protest march from their hometown Mitzpe Hila near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon to the Jerusalem residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to mark four years since their son was captured by Palestinian militants in Gaza in June 2006.

https://i2.wp.com/cache.daylife.com/imageserve/0eag9G739N5lH/x610.jpg

Supporters of the family of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit join them on June 27, 2010 on a 200-kilometre (120-mile) trek, which is expected to take around 12 days, in a solemn protest march from their hometown Mitzpe Hila near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon to the Jerusalem residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to mark four years since their son was captured by Palestinian militants in Gaza in June 2006. (Photo : Getty)

https://i2.wp.com/cache.daylife.com/imageserve/0bOmbeI7W4b3X/610x.jpg

Young Israelis join the family of captive soldier Gilad Shalit on June 27, 2010 on a 200-kilometre (120-mile) trek, which is expected to take around 12 days, in a solemn protest march from their hometown Mitzpe Hila near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon to the Jerusalem residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to mark four years since their son was captured by Palestinian militants in Gaza in June 2006.  (Photo : Getty)

https://i1.wp.com/cache.daylife.com/imageserve/0gNd4M13PS6WQ/610x.jpg

The family of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit (portraits), sets off with thousands of supporters on June 27, 2010 on a 200-kilometre (120-mile) trek, which is expected to take around 12 days, in a solemn protest march from their hometown Mitzpe Hila near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon to the Jerusalem residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to mark four years since their son was captured by Palestinian militants in Gaza in June 2006.  (Photo : Getty)

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Israelis hold a banner with an illustration of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit at Beit Kama junction near Kibbutz Beit Kama June 26, 2010. Shalit was captured by Palestinian militants four years ago in a cross-border raid.  (Photo : Getty)

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Captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is seen in a video broadcast by an Israeli news channel on October 2, 2009. Israel freed 19 Palestinian women prisoners in a swap for two minutes and 40 seconds of footage showing soldier Gilad Shalit looking healthy after more than three years in captivity at the hands of Gaza militants.

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Captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit holds up a Gaza newspaper dated September 14, 2009, in a video broadcast by an Israeli news channel on October 2, 2009. Israel freed 19 Palestinian women prisoners in a swap for two minutes and 40 seconds of footage showing soldier Gilad Shalit looking healthy after more than three years in captivity at the hands of Gaza militants.

https://i1.wp.com/bengal-babies.com/images/ROSTAR5.gif

GILAD’S VOICE :

http://www.habanim.org/shalit.mp3

‘I am the soldier Gilad, son of Noam Shalit, who was captured by Izz el-Din al-Qassam. Mom and Dad, sister and brother, my friends in the IDF. I send you my love and I miss you all. It has been a whole year in prison, and still my health is deteriorating.

I am in need of prolonged hospitalization.

I am sorry for the Israeli government’s and IDF’s lack of interest in me and their rejection of the demands of Izz el-Din al-Qassam [the Hamas armed wing]. It is clear that they must accept their demands if they want me to be released from prison, especially since I was part of a military operation under military instruction and not a drug dealer.

And just as I have parents, a mother and a father, the Palestinian prisoners also have mothers and fathers – and their children must be returned to them. I have great confidence in my government that they will focus more on my issue and accept the demands of my captors.  Corporal Gilad Shalit.’

https://i1.wp.com/bengal-babies.com/images/ROSTAR5.gif

Photostream : Israeli Soldier Gilad Shalit Still Alive

https://i2.wp.com/cache.daylife.com/imageserve/0c3ld2j5DYbMJ/610x.jpg

Noam and Aviva, the parents of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit wearing white T-shirts with the slogan: ‘Gilad is still alive,’ leave their home on June 27, 2010 in Mitzpe Hila as they set off with other family members and thousands of supporters on a 200-kilometre (120-mile) trek, which is expected to take around 12 days, in a solemn protest march from their hometown near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon to the Jerusalem residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to mark four years since their son was captured by Palestinian militants in Gaza in June 2006. (Photo : Getty)

https://i2.wp.com/cache.daylife.com/imageserve/0fMweoV8TFbA9/610x.jpg

Motorcyclists join the family of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, and thousands of supporters as they set off on June 27, 2010 on a 200-kilometre (120-mile) trek, which is expected to take around 12 days, in a solemn protest march from their hometown Mitzpe Hila nearIsrael’s northern border with Lebanon to the Jerusalem residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to mark four years since their son was captured by Palestinian militants in Gaza in June 2006.

https://i0.wp.com/cache.daylife.com/imageserve/0aLygvd9TA4ml/610x.jpg

The family of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, sets off with thousands of supporters on June 27, 2010 on a 200-kilometre (120-mile) trek, which is expected to take around 12 days, in a solemn protest march from their hometown Mitzpe Hila near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon to the Jerusalem residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to mark four years since their son was captured by Palestinian militants in Gaza in June 2006.

https://i1.wp.com/cache.daylife.com/imageserve/07Ebb9i66Q7hL/x610.jpg

Noam and Aviva Schalit , parents of captured Israeli soldier Gilad, march near their home in Mitzpe Hila, northern Israel, Sunday, June 27, 2010. The family of a captured Israeli soldier is setting out on a 12-day march from Schalit’s home to Jerusalem to press Israeli leaders to make a deal with his Hamas captors to free him. Sgt. Gilad Schalit was taken captive four years ago during a cross-border raid by militants from the Gaza Strip. (Photo : Getty)

https://i2.wp.com/cache.daylife.com/imageserve/05FS9c7bqI3Nt/610x.jpg

Noam (2nd L), the father of captive soldier Gilad Shalit, sets off on June 27, 2010 with other family members, wearing white T-shirts with the slogan: ‘Gilad is still alive,’ on a 200-kilometre (120-mile) trek, which is expected to take around 12 days, in a solemn protest march from their hometown Mitzpe Hila near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon to the Jerusalem residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to mark four years since their son was captured by Palestinian militants in Gaza in June 2006. (Photo : Getty)

https://i0.wp.com/cache.daylife.com/imageserve/091q2Te86BgPJ/610x.jpg

Noam (R) and Aviva (C), the parents of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, set off on June 27, 2010 with other family members and thousands of supporters, many wearing white T-shirts with the slogan: ‘Gilad is still alive,’ on a 200-kilometre (120-mile) trek, which is expected to take around 12 days, in a solemn protest march from their hometown Mitzpe Hila near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon to the Jerusalem residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to mark four years since their son was captured by Palestinian militants in Gaza in June 2006. (Photo : Getty)

https://i2.wp.com/cache.daylife.com/imageserve/0d9dbdk69v3jh/610x.jpg

The family of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, sets off with thousands of supporters on June 27, 2010 on a 200-kilometre (120-mile) trek, which is expected to take around 12 days, in a solemn protest march from their hometown Mitzpe Hila near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon to the Jerusalem residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to mark four years since their son was captured by Palestinian militants in Gaza in June 2006.

https://i2.wp.com/cache.daylife.com/imageserve/0eag9G739N5lH/x610.jpg

Supporters of the family of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit join them on June 27, 2010 on a 200-kilometre (120-mile) trek, which is expected to take around 12 days, in a solemn protest march from their hometown Mitzpe Hila near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon to the Jerusalem residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to mark four years since their son was captured by Palestinian militants in Gaza in June 2006. (Photo : Getty)

https://i2.wp.com/cache.daylife.com/imageserve/0bOmbeI7W4b3X/610x.jpg

Young Israelis join the family of captive soldier Gilad Shalit on June 27, 2010 on a 200-kilometre (120-mile) trek, which is expected to take around 12 days, in a solemn protest march from their hometown Mitzpe Hila near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon to the Jerusalem residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to mark four years since their son was captured by Palestinian militants in Gaza in June 2006.  (Photo : Getty)

https://i1.wp.com/cache.daylife.com/imageserve/0gNd4M13PS6WQ/610x.jpg

The family of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit (portraits), sets off with thousands of supporters on June 27, 2010 on a 200-kilometre (120-mile) trek, which is expected to take around 12 days, in a solemn protest march from their hometown Mitzpe Hila near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon to the Jerusalem residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to mark four years since their son was captured by Palestinian militants in Gaza in June 2006.  (Photo : Getty)

https://i0.wp.com/cache.daylife.com/imageserve/05Sz4ZP9mBatN/610x.jpg

Israelis hold a banner with an illustration of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit at Beit Kama junction near Kibbutz Beit Kama June 26, 2010. Shalit was captured by Palestinian militants four years ago in a cross-border raid.  (Photo : Getty)

https://i2.wp.com/cache.daylife.com/imageserve/07UV6BncCN1j0/610x.jpg

Captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is seen in a video broadcast by an Israeli news channel on October 2, 2009. Israel freed 19 Palestinian women prisoners in a swap for two minutes and 40 seconds of footage showing soldier Gilad Shalit looking healthy after more than three years in captivity at the hands of Gaza militants.

https://i0.wp.com/cache.daylife.com/imageserve/09x5aFIcPF3CB/610x.jpg

Captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit holds up a Gaza newspaper dated September 14, 2009, in a video broadcast by an Israeli news channel on October 2, 2009. Israel freed 19 Palestinian women prisoners in a swap for two minutes and 40 seconds of footage showing soldier Gilad Shalit looking healthy after more than three years in captivity at the hands of Gaza militants.

https://i1.wp.com/bengal-babies.com/images/ROSTAR5.gif

GILAD’S VOICE :

http://www.habanim.org/shalit.mp3

‘I am the soldier Gilad, son of Noam Shalit, who was captured by Izz el-Din al-Qassam. Mom and Dad, sister and brother, my friends in the IDF. I send you my love and I miss you all. It has been a whole year in prison, and still my health is deteriorating.

I am in need of prolonged hospitalization.

I am sorry for the Israeli government’s and IDF’s lack of interest in me and their rejection of the demands of Izz el-Din al-Qassam [the Hamas armed wing]. It is clear that they must accept their demands if they want me to be released from prison, especially since I was part of a military operation under military instruction and not a drug dealer.

And just as I have parents, a mother and a father, the Palestinian prisoners also have mothers and fathers – and their children must be returned to them. I have great confidence in my government that they will focus more on my issue and accept the demands of my captors.  Corporal Gilad Shalit.’

https://i1.wp.com/bengal-babies.com/images/ROSTAR5.gif

Obama, Saudi king discuss Israel, Palestinians

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June 29, 2010

(MSNBC / REUTERS)  WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama and Saudi Arabian King Abdullah on Tuesday stressed the importance of a two-state solution to Middle East peace that secured a Palestinian homeland alongside a strong Israel.

Arab leaders are disappointed that Obama has not made more progress in pressuring Israel to give ground in U.S.-mediated peace talks. Obama will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on July 6.

Obama said his lunch with King Abdullah ranged over various strategic issues, including Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as “the importance of moving forward in a significant and bold way in securing a Palestinian homeland that can live side by side with a secure and prosperous Israeli state.”

Netanyahu began indirect talks with the Palestinians in May but has imposed strict conditions for accepting their demand for statehood.

In addition, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said earlier on Tuesday that problems with the talks, and divisions among the Palestinians, meant no Palestinian state would be founded by 2012. This was an apparent reference to a call by the Quarter — the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia — for an accord by that time.

Obama and King Abdullah “expressed their hope that proximity talks between Israelis and Palestinians will lead to the resumption of direct talks with the aim of two states living side-by-side in peace,” the White House said.

King Abdullah only spoke briefly after their meeting, thanking Obama for his hospitality and praising the friendship between their two countries.

“We appreciate all that you personally have done to further broaden and deepen and strengthen this relationship,” he said, speaking through in interpreter in the Oval Office.

Analysts say the Saudis want Obama to lean on Netanyahu over stalled peace talks with the Palestinians and on freezing Jewish settlements on occupied Arab land.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the King had assured Obama of his continued support for the Arab Middle East peace initiative.

This is the 2002 plan originated by King Abdullah offering Israel recognition in exchange for returning occupied territories and allowing a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Last year Obama revived a long-standing U.S. request for Saudi Arabia to make gestures toward normalizing relations with Israel as an incentive to the Jewish state to take up serious negotiations over establishing a Palestinian state.

Photostream : Saudi king visits White House

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U.S. President Barack Obama (R) meets with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington June 29, 2010. (Photo : Getty)

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WASHINGTON – JUNE 29: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Saudi Arabian King Abdullah Bin-Abd-al-Aziz Al Saud speak to the media after their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House June 29, 2010 in Washington, DC. Obama and Abdullah spoke about the peace process in the Middle East.

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WASHINGTON – JUNE 29: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Saudi Arabian King Abdullah Bin-Abd-al-Aziz Al Saud laugh as they speak to the media after their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House June 29, 2010 in Washington, DC. Obama and Abdullah spoke about the peace process in the Middle East.

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WASHINGTON – JUNE 29: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Saudi Arabian King Abdullah Bin-Abd-al-Aziz Al Saud shake hands after their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House June 29, 2010 in Washington, DC. Obama and Abdullah spoke about the peace process in the Middle East. Photo : Getty)

Gen. Petraeus : Progress in Afghanistan, but Tough Times Ahead

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June 29, 2010

(VOA)  The U.S. Army General who President Barack Obama wants to send to lead American and coalition forces in Afghanistan told members of the Senate on Tuesday that there are already signs of success from the new strategy and troop surge the president announced in December.  General David Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the effort to establish security and develop Afghanistan’s government and security forces will continue to be difficult, but he said he believes it can succeed.

General Petraeus appeared irritated with some senators and other observers who see slower-than-expected progress in southern Afghanistan, and rising allied and Afghan military casualties, as indications the new strategy is failing.  He noted that the president only announced the new approach in December and that all of the additional U.S. and allied forces have not yet arrived.

“My sense is that the tough fighting will continue,” said Petraeus.  “Indeed, it may get more intense in the next few months.  As we take away the enemy’s safe havens and reduce the enemy’s freedom of action, the insurgents will fight back.  In the face of the tough fighting, however, we must remember that progress is possible in Afghanistan because we have already seen a fair amount of it in a variety of different forms beyond the recent security gains.”

Petraeus cited increases in the number of children attending schools, the number of markets doing business and the number of roads repaired and built to facilitate commerce.  He indicated he will continue to pursue the implementation plan developed by his predecessor, Army General Stanley McChrystal, whose resignation President Obama accepted last week following the publication of derisive comments by the general and members of his staff.

As McChrystal’s immediate superior, General Petraeus participated in developing the campaign plan and approved it.  The plan calls for securing more parts of the country, starting with key areas in the South, developing the Afghan security forces and promoting reconciliation and economic development.

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General David Petraeus testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to be confirmed as President Obama’s choice to take control of forces in Afghanistan, 29 Jun 2010

“Focusing on securing the people does not, however, mean that we don’t go after the enemy,” he added.  “In fact, protecting the population inevitably requires killing, capturing or turning the insurgents.”

Petraeus welcomed the reintegration plan announced by Afghan President Hamid Karzai Tuesday, but he said many Taliban fighters will not be interested in laying down their arms and reconciling with the Afghan government unless the coalition and Afghan forces put military pressure on them.  Petraeus said he may make small changes in the campaign plan, as any commander would, but that the overall thrust will not change.

Specifically, he said he will continue the emphasis on protecting Afghan civilians, including rules for coalition troops that limit their ability to use lethal force.  But the general also indicated he is sensitive to complaints from some troops that the rules go too far, and put them in too much danger.

“I see it as a moral imperative to bring all assets to bear to protect our men and women in uniform and the Afghan security forces with whom ISAF [i.e., International Security Assistance Force] troopers are fighting shoulder-to-shoulder.  Those on the ground must have all the support they need when they are in a tough situation,” he explained.

General Petraeus said he has discussed that with President Karzai and other senior Afghan officials, and that they agree the troops must be able to protect themselves and understand that there inevitably will be some civilian casualties.

The general also defended President Obama’s July 2011 deadline for beginning the withdrawal of U.S. forces and the transition to full Afghan government control.  He said the deadline creates a constructive sense of urgency among all parties involved.  But Petraeus emphasized that the pace of the withdrawal will be determined by the situation on the ground, and that U.S. forces and civilians will maintain a long-term commitment to Afghanistan.

“The commitment to Afghanistan is necessarily, therefore, an enduring one,” he noted.  “And neither the Taliban nor Afghan and Pakistani partners should doubt that.”

Although some senators expressed concerns about the deadline and other aspects of the president’s strategy, none had any criticism for General Petraeus, who is widely credited with engineering the turnaround in Iraq as the allied commander there in 2007 and 2008.  The senate is expected to confirm the general’s nomination by the end of the week, and he could be in Kabul to assume his new command by early next week.

PM Cameron ‘agrees torture inquiry terms’

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June 29, 2010

(BBC)   David Cameron has agreed the terms of a judge-led inquiry into claims British agents were complicit in the torture of terror suspects, the BBC understands.

The PM is understood to have agreed it could offer compensation if it shows they were tortured and UK agents knew.

The Tories and Lib Dems have long urged an inquiry into UK resident Binyam Mohamed’s claims that security services were aware of his torture.

The former Labour government insisted the UK did not use or condone torture.

British security services say they do not collude in torture.

Foreign Secretary William Hague confirmed in May there would be a “judge-led” inquiry to the allegations.

Details could be announced as early as this week, the BBC understands.

Binyam Mohamed

Binyam Mohamed: An MI5 officer faces investigation over his case

‘Re-establish reputation’

It is understood that the inquiry will offer compensation to people found to have been victims of torture carried out by foreign security services, but with the knowledge of British intelligence officials.

The prime minister’s spokesman would only say an announcement would be made “in due course”.

Ethiopian-born Mr Mohamed says he was tortured after being held in Pakistan in 2002, and subsequently moved to Morocco and Afghanistan.

Continue reading the main story

Our officers are as committed to the values and the human rights values of liberal democracy as anybody else

Sir John Scarlett Former MI6 chief ‘Publish terror guidelines’ call

He says agents from the UK’s MI5 knew about this and fed questions to his interrogators through the CIA.

Mr Mohamed was transferred to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba in 2004 and was freed last year, after charges of involvement in terrorist plots were dropped. He says the only evidence against him was obtained through torture.

The government’s reviewer of terrorism legislation, Lord Carlile, told the BBC: “I think a judge-led inquiry will have the advantage of a rigorous investigation of allegations that are made, the protection of national security and the award of compensation to anyone who’s able to prove on the balance of probability that they have been tortured or otherwise subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment.”

But he said an inquiry could not take place until criminal investigations already under way had been completed.

The Metropolitan Police are investigating the role played by a number of British security agents in Mr Mohamed’s interrogation, after a request by former Attorney General Lady Scotland.

Lord Carlile also said he hoped the judge would be assisted by people with experience of the security services world and would not expect the entire inquiry to be held in public, for national security reasons.

‘Values’

On Tuesday the Human Rights Watch group demanded that guidance given to UK intelligence officers interrogating suspects overseas be published “without delay”.

But, speaking to the BBC last year, the then head of MI6 Sir John Scarlett said there was no torture and “no complicity in torture” by the British secret service.

“Our officers are as committed to the values and the human rights values of liberal democracy as anybody else,” he said.

“They also have the responsibility of protecting the country against terrorism and these issues need to be debated and understood in that context.”

The chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on extraordinary rendition, Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie, said: “This inquiry can only be of lasting benefit if its remit is wide enough to include not only complicity in the torture of terrorist suspects, but also allegations of complicity in extraordinary rendition.

“Its reach must also be broader than just the security services and must include other government officials.”

Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights group Liberty, said: “This investigation must be independent, judge-led and have broad powers to call evidence and make as much as possible publicly available.

“Only this kind of inquiry can end the slow bleed of embarrassing revelation and expensive litigation and draw a line under this shameful business once and for all.”  (*)

British and German Defence Ministers meet

Dr Karl-Theodor Freiherr zu Guttenberg, Minister of Defence of the Federal Republic of Germany (left), meets Secretary of State for Defence, Dr Liam Fox
[Picture: Harland Quarrington, Crown Copyright/MOD 2010]

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June 29, 2010

The two ministers discussed a range of issues including the Afghan training mission and the need for further progress before transition to the Afghan authorities can take place.

With almost 4,500 troops deployed in Afghanistan, Germany is the third largest contributor to the ISAF mission.

Dr Fox said:

“NATO forces are making progress in Afghanistan and, as lead nation in Regional Command (North), Germany’s contribution to ISAF is extremely important in ensuring this continues.

“Dr zu Guttenberg and I had an extremely productive meeting here today; as key members of NATO and leading military nations in Europe, a strong German-UK defence relationship is important for both our countries’ security and stability in the wider world.”

Germany recently revised its rules of engagement, which has seen them engaging further in countering the insurgency in northern Afghanistan. Welcoming the progress that the German troops have made, Dr Fox said:

“Progress in Afghanistan is essential for the local population and all the coalition allies. All ISAF partners are working hard to ensure that the security conditions are in place to allow the Afghan Government to take responsibility for their own security.”

The Defence Ministers were asked about a timetable for withdrawal. Dr Fox responded:

“We are in agreement on the importance of setting aspirations. They provide the momentum to make further progress. By degrading the threats and increasing the capability of the Afghan forces, the conditions will be in place to enable us to bring our forces home without leaving behind a security vacuum.”

In addition to their combat role, the German Armed Forces are heavily involved with training the Afghan National Security Forces. They currently contribute seven Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams and two of the five Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Regional Command (North) where Germany is the lead nation.

Following the meeting Dr Fox said:

“Dr zu Guttenberg and I discussed many issues, including, of course, Afghanistan, but also NATO and Europe. We were both agreed on the importance of NATO working together to improve ways in which it delivers capability and the need to deliver major operations like Afghanistan in the future.

“I have found our meeting to be one of the most informative and productive since I have taken up the post and I look forward to working closely together in future.”

Israel hopes Russian leader will visit this year

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (left) and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov talk to the press after their meeting in Jerusalem on June 29. Lieberman said after a meeting with Moscow's top diplomat that he hoped Russia's president or prime minister would visit the Jewish state in 2010.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (left) and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov talk to the press after their meeting in Jerusalem on June 29. Lieberman said after a meeting with Moscow’s top diplomat that he hoped Russia’s president or prime minister would visit the Jewish state in 2010.

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June 29, 2010

( FRANCE 24 / AFP )  – Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Tuesday after a meeting with Moscow’s top diplomat that he hoped Russia’s president or prime minister would visit the Jewish state in 2010.

“I hope that by the end of the year there will be a visit by President Dmitry Medvedev or Prime Minister Vladimir Putin,” Lieberman said at a press conference with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Lieberman, an immigrant from Moldova whose mother tongue is Russian, said they had discussed the two countries’ “close bilateral relations and the situation in the Middle East,” without providing further details.

Lavrov said he hoped for the renewal of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians following the launch of indirect US-brokered negotiations in May.

He also welcomed Israel’s recent decision to allow more goods into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip while calling for the complete lifting of its four-year blockade of the impoverished territory.

Meanwhile, Lavrov requested an explanation from Washington regarding the arrest of an alleged spy ring, which came at a time of rapidly warming ties between the two countries.

“They did not explain what the matter is about. I hope they will,” he said, referring to US authorities.

“The moment when it was done has been chosen with a special finesse,” he said with apparent sarcasm.

Medvedev and US leader Barack Obama met in Washington earlier this month to underscore warming ties between the two Cold War adversaries.

But on Monday US authorities said they had cracked open a massive alleged spy ring, announcing the arrest of 10 “deep-cover” suspects after unravelling a mission secretly monitored by the FBI for more than a decade.

Israel hopes Russian leader will visit this year

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (left) and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov talk to the press after their meeting in Jerusalem on June 29. Lieberman said after a meeting with Moscow's top diplomat that he hoped Russia's president or prime minister would visit the Jewish state in 2010.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (left) and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov talk to the press after their meeting in Jerusalem on June 29. Lieberman said after a meeting with Moscow’s top diplomat that he hoped Russia’s president or prime minister would visit the Jewish state in 2010.

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June 29, 2010

( FRANCE 24 / AFP )  – Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Tuesday after a meeting with Moscow’s top diplomat that he hoped Russia’s president or prime minister would visit the Jewish state in 2010.

“I hope that by the end of the year there will be a visit by President Dmitry Medvedev or Prime Minister Vladimir Putin,” Lieberman said at a press conference with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Lieberman, an immigrant from Moldova whose mother tongue is Russian, said they had discussed the two countries’ “close bilateral relations and the situation in the Middle East,” without providing further details.

Lavrov said he hoped for the renewal of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians following the launch of indirect US-brokered negotiations in May.

He also welcomed Israel’s recent decision to allow more goods into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip while calling for the complete lifting of its four-year blockade of the impoverished territory.

Meanwhile, Lavrov requested an explanation from Washington regarding the arrest of an alleged spy ring, which came at a time of rapidly warming ties between the two countries.

“They did not explain what the matter is about. I hope they will,” he said, referring to US authorities.

“The moment when it was done has been chosen with a special finesse,” he said with apparent sarcasm.

Medvedev and US leader Barack Obama met in Washington earlier this month to underscore warming ties between the two Cold War adversaries.

But on Monday US authorities said they had cracked open a massive alleged spy ring, announcing the arrest of 10 “deep-cover” suspects after unravelling a mission secretly monitored by the FBI for more than a decade.

Russia says spying charges are Cold War throwback

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev speaks to the Cabinet at a meeting, in Moscow’s Kremlin, Tuesday, June 29, 2010. Russia angrily denounced the U.S. arrest of 10 alleged Russian spies as an unjustified throwback to the Cold War, and senior lawmakers said some in the U.S. government may be trying to undercut President Barack Obama’s warming relations with Moscow.

June 29, 2010

(Los Angeles Times / AP) Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that the arrest of 10 alleged Russian spies in the United States is a throwback to the Cold War.

The ministry said in a statement that the U.S. actions are unfounded and pursued “unseemly” goals. It voiced regret that the arrests came even though President Obama has moved to “reset” U.S. relations with Russia.

The FBI has arrested 10 people who allegedly spied for Russia for up to a decade — posing as civilians while trying to infiltrate U.S. policymaking circles. An 11th defendant — a man accused of delivering money to the agents — remains at large.

Two senior lawmakers said earlier that some in the U.S. government may be trying to undermine President Barack Obama’s warming relations with Russia.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted that U.S. authorities announced the arrest days after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited the United States.

“They haven’t explained to us what this is about,” Lavrov said at a news conference during a visit to Jerusalem. “I hope they will. The only thing I can say today is that the moment for doing that has been chosen with special elegance.”

Medvedev met with Obama at the White House last week after the Russian leader visited high-tech firms in California’s Silicon Valley. The two presidents went out for cheeseburgers, exchanged jokes and walked together in the park in a show of easy camaraderie underlining that efforts to “reset” ties have taken deep root.

The series of arrests of purported deep cover agents followed a multiyear FBI investigation.

The FBI has arrested 10 people who allegedly spied for Russia for up to a decade, posing as innocent civilians while trying to infiltrate U.S. policymaking circles and learn about U.S. weapons, diplomatic strategy and politics. An 11th defendant, a man accused of delivering money to the agents, remains at large.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Igor Lyakin-Frolov told The Associated Press that the information given by U.S. authorities looks “contradictory.” He wouldn’t comment further. The main Russian spy agency, the Foreign Intelligence Service, known by its Russian acronym SVR, refused to comment on the arrests.

Alexander Torshin, a deputy speaker of the Russian parliament’s upper house, sought to downplay the arrests and said they are unlikely to derail efforts to improve Russian-U.S. ties.

“It’s not a return to the Cold War, and I’m sure that this incident won’t develop into a large-scale spy scandal,” Torshin said, according to the state RIA Novosti news agency.

He said agreements reached during Medvedev’s visit to the United States last week signaled that relations between Moscow and Washington have reached a new higher level.

But another senior lawmaker, a deputy chairman of the security affairs committee in the lower house of parliament, Vladimir Kolesnikov, told RIA Novosti the arrests signaled that some quarters in the U.S. government oppose warmer ties with Russia.

“Regrettably, there are people in America burdened by the legacy of the Cold War, the legacy of double standards,” he said. “And they react improperly to the warming of relations spearheaded by the presidents. It’s a blow to President Obama.”

Kolesnikov, a former deputy prosecutor general, said “U.S. secret agents are continuing to work” in Russia and suggested that Russia could respond tit-for-tat.

“Previously we have quietly evicted some of them,” he said. “Now I think we should more actively apply criminal legislation against them.”

Kolesnikov is not believed to have close ties to the Kremlin or knowledge of the government’s plans.

Nikolai Kovalyov, the former chief of the main KGB successor agency, the Federal Security Service, said that Russia would reciprocate only “if the American don’t stop at that and risk evicting our diplomats,” the ITAR-Tass news agency reported. He added that it will be unlikely.

Kovalyov, a lawmaker, said that the arrests was an attempt by some “hawkish circles” in the United States to demonstrate the need for a tougher line toward Moscow.

He ridiculed some of the U.S. charges against the alleged spies, saying that some of the charges resembled a “bad spy novel.” “Would you act like that in the 21st century?” he said in a reference to allegations that agents retrieved cash that had been buried in the ground years before.

Kovalyov added that Russian-U.S. ties will continue to improve despite the spy scandal. “Our two great powers must stand together,” he said.

Photostream : Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev and First Lady Svetlana in Toronto

Photostream : G8 Summit

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Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev and his wife Svetlana arrive at the G20 Summit in Toronto, Saturday, June 26, 2010.

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Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev and his wife Svetlana arrive at the G20 Summit in Toronto, June 26, 2010.

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper greets Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during the official dinner at the G20 Summit Saturday, June 26, 2010 in Toronto.

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Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev and his wife Svetlana, left, stand with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen at the G20 Summit in Toronto, June 26, 2010.

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, right, and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi shake hands meeting during the G8 summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada, Saturday, June 26, 2010.

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Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev (L) talks with Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron during a working breakfast at the G8 Summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario June 25, 2010.

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Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev (L) talks with Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon during a working dinner at the G20 Summit in Toronto, June 26, 2010.

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, right, and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan meet during the G8 summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada, Saturday, June 26, 2010.

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Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev (R) speaks with Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron during their meeting at G8 leaders summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, on June 26, 2010. Russia and Britain agreed on the eve to renew ties recently strained by suspicions of murder and spying, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and British Prime Minister David Cameron said. Meeting on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Canada, the leaders agreed to relaunch relations between Moscow and Britain and seek closer cooperation.

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Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev (R) and France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy chat during a coffee break during the G8 summit at the Deerhurst Resort is Huntsville, Ontario, on June 26, 2010. The leaders of the Group of Eight richest nations began summit talks on June 25, 2010, in an exclusive Canadian lakeside resort, with the fragile economic recovery due to top the agenda.

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Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper (L) welcomes Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the G8 summit in Huntsville, Ontario, June 25, 2010.

Kenya Prime Minister Raila Odinga in hospital

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June 29, 2010

(BBC)  Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga has been admitted to hospital for exhaustion, his spokesman says.

Mr Odinga, 65, went to hospital on Monday after a political rally and doctors have confined him to bed.

The BBC’s Peter Greste in Nairobi says Mr Odinga has been one of Kenya’s most energetic politicians.

In recent months, he has been campaigning particularly hard to win support for a new constitution, with no questions about his physical fitness.

So our correspondent says Tuesday’s statement from his press spokesman has come as something of a surprise.

Rather confusingly, the statement quotes doctors as saying he is fit enough to work as usual if he feels. But it then goes on to say they are not allowing that.

Until now, most of the questions about the health of Kenya’s political leaders have been directed at President Mwai Kibaki.

He disappeared from public view shortly after he was first elected in 2002, and rumours persisted that he had suffered a stroke.

His staff however, consistently denied he had suffered anything beyond minor health issues.

Mr Odinga has been prime minister since 2008 under a deal brokered to end months of violence after his supporters claimed he had been cheated of victory by allies of President Kibaki.

Their coalition government remains shaky but both men are campaigning in favour of the new constitution ahead of a referendum due in August.

Aquino Names Philippine Cabinet

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June 29, 2010

MANILA (WSJ) — Philippine President-elect Benigno Aquino III Tuesday introduced members of his cabinet, a mix of old and new hands led by Cesar Purisima, who will serve anew as finance secretary and whose key task is to put the Philippines’ fiscal house in order.

Mr. Aquino said Mr. Purisima’s main role will be to improve the government’s finances “without resorting to new taxes.”

Mr. Aquino named Kim Henares as commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the government’s main tax collection agency, where she previously served as undersecretary. He said the Bureau of Customs’ appointment is still under review.

Mr. Purisima briefly served as finance chief under outgoing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and was one of the architects of her fiscal consolidation plan, the main push of which was to raise the value-added tax and broaden the range of items it covers. He also initiated programs to go after tax evaders and smugglers.

The rest of Mr. Aquino’s appointees are Paquito Ochoa Jr., executive secretary; Florencio Abad, secretary of budget and management; Corazon Soliman, secretary of social welfare and development; Armin Luistro, secretary of education; Leila de Lima, secretary of justice; Alberto Romulo, secretary of foreign affairs; Voltaire Gazmin, secretary of national defense; Proceso Alcala, secretary of agriculture; Rosalinda Baldos, secretary of labor; Enrique Ona, secretary of health; Alberto Lim, secretary of tourism; Gregory Domingo, secretary of trade and industry; Mario Montejo, secretary of science and technology; Jose Rene Almendras, secretary of energy; Virgilio delos Reyes, secretary of agrarian reform; Cayetano Paderanga, economic planning secretary; Rogelio Singson, secretary of public works and highways; Kim Henares, commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue; Eduardo de Mesa, presidential legal adviser; and Edwin Lacierda, presidential spokesman.

Mr. Aquino said he will initially serve as secretary for interior and local governments until the three nominees are reviewed.