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Daily Archives: 10/17/2010

Ahmadinejad: Iran ready for talks, won’t yield nuclear rights

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned his country won't yield any international rights to peaceful nuclear energy development. (CNN)

October 17, 2010 (KATAKAMI / CNN) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is taking a hard line ahead of nuclear talks scheduled for next month with world powers skeptical of his government’s intentions, local media reported Sunday.

Ahmadinejad said that Iran is ready to hold talks, but warned that his country won’t yield any of its international rights to peaceful nuclear energy development, according to the reports.

“Holding talks with Iran is the best choice for you,” Ahmadinejad was quoted by state-run Press TV as saying at a rally in Ardebil in northwestern Iran Sunday. “You have no other option. All the other ways are closed. You know the fact very well,”

The United States and other world powers fear Iran is developing a nuclear program for military purposes. Iran has denied those allegations.

“You should make it clear that what is your aim of negotiations, friendship or hostility? Do you want to follow logic or law or issue resolution and make threat?” the semi-official Iran Student’s News Agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying. He added that Western powers should also pressure Israel over its undeclared but widely-suspected nuclear capability, ISNA said.

Last month, Ahmadinejad said an Iranian representative would meet with the “P5 plus one” group. The group is made up of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia — along with Germany.

Nuclear talks between Iran and the six powers have been stalled since October 1, 2009, when the two groups last met in Geneva.

The EU has proposed the two sides meet again in mid-November back in Geneva. Manouchehr Mottaki, Iranian foreign minister, said Saturday that November 15 had been suggested for a meeting date.

It may be a sign that Tehran is feeling the bite of increased sanctions imposed in recent months to pressure a return to talks.

Iran is now subject to four sets of U.N. sanctions, while the United States and the EU have also imposed separate penalties on Iran over its refusal to stop enriching uranium.

Still, Ahmadinejad said Iran is not weakening in its resolve, “They thought they can weaken the Iranian nation through imposing sanctions and posing threats, but Iranians have showed integrity, convergence and strength,” he told Press TV.

Iran’s semi-official FARS news agency also released figures claiming that trade with the P5 plus one economies had actually jumped 12 percent despite new sanctions aimed at reining in Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

It claimed that during the six months since March 21, trade had climbed to $9.3 billion. China accounted for most of Tehran’s trade with the group.

Imports fell sharply from the United States, but exports to America more than doubled to $77 million, leaving Iran with a small trade surplus with the world’s largest economy.

Distraught relatives gather outside Chinese mine as rescuers battle deadly coal dust in bid to free 11 trapped miners

 

October 17, 2010. (KATAKAMI / DAILY MAIL.CO.UK) — Dozens of anxious relatives and friends of 11 miners trapped underground by an explosion in central China gathered outside the site today as rescuers battled tons of coal dust in a bid to reach them.

The number of miners confirmed dead rose by five to 26, state media said.

China’s crisis happened as the world was still celebrating Chile’s successful rescue of 33 miners trapped for more than two months.


Distraught: Relatives of the dead and trapped miners in China’s Henan province gathered outside the mine today as rescuers battled tons of coal dust in an effort to rescue them


Deadly: China’s mines are the most dangerous in the world. 195 people died in mining accidents in Henan in August alone

Chinese media had detailed coverage as the Chilean men emerged to cheers.

Some in China asked whether their own officials would make as much of an effort in a similar disaster and be just as open about the progress of rescue efforts.

Yesterday’s blast at the Pingyu Coal & Electric mine occurred as workers were drilling a hole to release pressure from a gas build-up to decrease the risk of explosions, the state work safety administration said.


Guarded: Two dozen police officers were stationed outside the mine’s main gate, preventing anyone from entering the site without authorisation

 

State media said 70 rescuers had been sent to the site in Henan province after the early-morning explosion.

But hopes of rescuing the remaining trapped workers were fading as they were buried under coal and it could take three or four days to try to find them, said a report by China National Radio.

Rescuers also faced dangerous gas levels and the risk of falling rocks as they worked their way into the mine pit.

The explosion unleashed more than 2,500 tons of coal dust, an engineer for one of the mine’s parent companies, Du Bo, told the state-run Xinhua News Agency.

A rescue spokesman told Xinhua that workers had located the trapped miners, but must clear tons of coal dust from the mine shaft to reach them.


Emergency: Rescuers prepare to descend into a mine in central China after an explosion yesterday killed 26 workers and trapped a further 11 underground

Today two dozen police officers were stationed outside the mine’s main gate, preventing anyone from entering the site without authorisation.

About 50 of the trapped miners’ friends and relatives quietly waited outside.

The Chinese government has shut down more than 1,600 small, illegal coal mines this year as part of an effort to improve safety standards, the state-backed People’s Daily newspaper reported on Thursday.

However, an unknown number of illegal mines still exist to profit from the fast-growing economy’s huge appetite for power.


Relief goods: Workers carry supplies into the entrance of the Pingyu No.4 Coal mine in Yuzhou, Henan province

Another gas blast at the same mine two years ago killed 23 people, state media said.

It was not clear if the miners were alive or how far underground they were trapped in the mine in the city of Yuzhou, about 430 miles south of Beijing.

China Central Television’s news channel had an excited live broadcast from the mine yesterday, but it later did not mention the accident on the main TV evening news.

The gas level inside the mine was 40 per cent, far higher than the normal level of about 1 per cent, state media said.

The gas was not specified, but methane is a common cause of mine blasts and coal dust is explosive.

China celebrated its own stunning mine rescue earlier this year, when 115 miners were pulled from a flooded mine in the northern province of Shanxi after more than a week underground.


Rescuers prepare to go underground, where they are battling dangerous levels of gas and the risk of falling coal as they work to free the trapped miners

The miners survived by eating sawdust, tree bark, paper and even coal. Some strapped themselves to the walls of the shafts with their belts to avoid drowning while they slept.

But it was a rare bright spot. At least 195 people were killed in mining accidents during August in Henan this year, according to the provincial coal mine safety bureau.

China’s mines had 6,995 fatalities in 2002, the deadliest year on record whilst about 2,600 people were killed in accidents last years year.

Photostream : Pope Benedict XVI canonises six new saints

Pope Benedict XVI waves as he arrives to lead a solemn mass for the canonisation of Stanislaw Soltys, Andre Bessette, Candida Marï¿?ï¿?ï¿?de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola, Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Giulia Salzano, Battista Varano in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican October 17, 2010. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Tony Gentile )

Pope Benedict XVI attends a Canonisation ceremony in St Peter's square, on October 17, 2010 in Vatican City, Vatican. The pontiff today named six new Saints; Stanislaw Soltys, Andre Bessette, Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola of Spain, Mary of the Cross (Mary Helen) MacKillop, Giulia Salzano and Battista Camilla da Varano. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

In this picture made available by the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI shakes hands with Australia's Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd inside St. Peter's Basilica, at Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010. The Pontiff gave Australia its first saint on Sunday, canonizing a 19th-century nun and also declaring five other saints in a Mass attended by tens of thousands of people. (Getty Images / AP Photo/Osservatore Romano, HO)

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd (R) and deputy opposition leader Julie Bishop (L) attend the Canonisation ceremony of Australia's first Saint sister Mary MacKillop celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI in St.Peter's square on October 17, 2010 in Vatican City, Vatican. The pontiff today named six new Saints; Stanislaw Soltys, Andre Bessette, Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola of Spain, Mary of the Cross (Mary Helen) MacKillop, Giulia Salzano and Battista Camilla da Varano. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

Archbishop of Australia Cardinal George Pell (C) arrives for a canonisation ceremony includes Australia's first Saint, Sister Mary MacKillo, celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Square on October 17, 2010 in Vatican City, Vatican. The pontiff named today six new Saints; Stanislaw Soltys, Andre Bessette, Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola of Spain, Mary of the Cross (Mary Helen) MacKillop, Giulia Salzano and Battista Camilla da Varano. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

Pilgrims hold pictures of new saints, Australian Mary of the Cross MacKillop (L) and Canadian Andre Bessette, as Pope Benedict XVI leads a solemn mass for the canonisation of six new saints in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican October 17, 2010. ( REUTERS/Tony Gentile )

Australian pilgrims hold banners featuring the portrait of Australia's first Saint Sister Mary MacKillo during a canonisation ceremony celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Square on October 17, 2010 in Vatican City, Vatican. The pontiff named today six new Saints; Stanislaw Soltys, Andre Bessette, Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola of Spain, Mary of the Cross (Mary Helen) MacKillop, Giulia Salzano and Battista Camilla da Varano. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images )

A tapestry showing new Canadian Saint Andre Bessette hangs from Saint Peter's Basilica as Pope Benedict XVI leads a solemn mass for the canonisation of six new saints in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican October 17, 2010. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Tony Gentile )

No date set for Moscow mayor vote – City Duma speaker

 

Sergei Sobyanin

 

October 17, 2010 (KATAKAMI / RIA NOVOSTI) — No date has yet been set for a vote in Moscow city parliament on the nomination by President Dmitry Medvedev of Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Sobyanin as Moscow mayor, the City Duma speaker said on Sunday.

Media reports earlier said the vote, which is widely expected to be little more than a rubber-stamping, would take place on Thursday.

“No final decision has been taken yet on the issue,” Vladimir Platonov told RIA Novosti.

He also said that a City Duma committee would choose the date at a meeting on Monday. However, he added that “Thursday is a convenient date for an extraordinary session.”

Medvedev proposed Sobyanin on Friday as the Russian capital’s new mayor.

Medvedev sacked long-serving mayor Yury Luzhkov on September 28, citing a “loss of trust.” State media had previously accused him and his businesswoman wife of massive corruption.

Analysts say there is little doubt that the Moscow Duma will approve 52-year-old Sobyanin, who was head of the presidential administration under first Vladimir Putin and then Medvedev from 2005-2008 and ran Medvedev’s presidential election campaign in 2008.

Direct elections for Moscow mayor and governors across Russia were scrapped in 2004.

MOSCOW, October 17 (RIA Novosti)

Gates: No sensitive info in Wikileaks Afghan papers

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates walks off his plane at Al-Assad Air Base in Iraq September 1, 2010, on a surprise visit as the the U.S. Army officially ends its combat mission in Iraq. Photo : Reuters/Jim Watson/Pool

October 17, 2010 (Katakami / Reuters) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the unauthorized release of some 70,000 classified documents about the Afghanistan war did not reveal sensitive information, but could endanger Afghans who helped the United States, U.S. media reported Sunday.

Gates made his assessment in an August 16 letter to Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, after the website Wikileaks released the documents in July. The New York Times and CNN both were given access to the letter.

“The initial assessment in no way discounts the risk to national security,” Gates wrote. “However, the review to date has not revealed any sensitive intelligence sources and methods compromised by the disclosure.”

Gates also said disclosing the names of cooperating Afghans, who could become targets for the Taliban, could cause “significant harm or damage to national security interests of the United States.”

Wikileaks, which says it is a non-profit organization funded by human rights campaigners, journalists and the general public, came under intense criticism for releasing the Afghan war papers.

Moscow Duma to discuss date of voting on Sobyanin’s candidacy for mayor on Oct.18

Sergei Sobyanin

October 16, 2010 (KATAKAMI/ RIA NOVOSTI) — The Moscow City Duma will discuss on Monday the date of voting on the candidacy of Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Sobyanin for the post of Moscow’s new mayor, the Duma speaker said on Saturday.

“We have received all the necessary documents [on Sobyanin’s candidacy],” Vladimir Platonov said.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday proposed Sobyanin as the Russian capital’s new mayor.

Medvedev sacked long-serving mayor Yury Luzhkov on September 28, citing a “loss of trust.” State media had previously accused him and his businesswoman wife of massive corruption.

Analysts say there is little doubt that the Moscow Duma will approve 52-year-old Sobyanin, who was head of the presidential administration under first Putin and then Medvedev from 2005-2008 and ran Medvedev’s presidential election campaign in 2008.

Direct elections for Moscow mayor and governors across Russia were scrapped in 2004.

MOSCOW, October 16 (RIA Novosti)

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera arrives in UK

Chile's President Sebastian Pinera poses with the 33 rescued miners inside Copiapo Hospital, where the miners are undergoing full medical examinations October 14, 2010. Chile's 33 newly rescued miners recovered from their ordeal on Thursday while also pondering the celebrity status they have gained following a more than two-month entrapment deep under a remote desert. From L-R: (seated) Raul Bustos, Omar Reygadas, Esteban Rojas, Samuel Avalos, Daniel Herrera, Juan Carlos Aguilar, President Pinera, Pedro Cortez, Carlos Barrios, Carlos Bugueno, Carlos Mamani, Alex Vega, Claudia Llanez, Jose Henriquez and Osman Araya; (standing) Victor Zamora, Pablo Rojas, Luis Urzua, Victor Segovia, Mario Gomez, Johnny Barrios, Mario Sepulveda, Jorge Galleguillos, Juan Illanes, Claudio Acuna, Jimmy Sanchez, Ariel Ticona, Dario Segovia, Jose Ojeda, Richard Villarroel, Franklin Lobos (hidden), Renan Avalos, Florencio Avalos and Edison Pena. (Getty Images / REUTERS/Jose Manuel de la Maza/Chilean Presidency/Handout

October 16, 2010 (KATAKAMI / BBC) — Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera has arrived in the UK ahead of a European tour, as his country basks in the rescue of 33 trapped miners.

Mr Pinera brought fragments of rock from the San Jose mine as presents for Prime Minister David Cameron and the Queen.

The billionaire president is due to visit Churchill’s War Rooms in London and hold talks with Mr Cameron.

The rescue of the miners after 69 days has made headlines worldwide.

Thirty-one of the miners have now been released from hospital, with the remaining two being transferred to other hospitals.

One is suffering from a dental infection and the second is suffering from vertigo symptoms.

Mr Pinera, 60, said Churchill’s “blood, toil, tears and sweat” speech had provided inspiration to him during the battle to save the miners.

He also said he ignored political advice to steer clear of the rescue effort.

“Many people thought the rescue was impossible and advised me not to get involved, to keep my distance,” he said.

“I decided to take full responsibility without any political consideration… We made a commitment to look for the miners as if they were our sons.”

Like Mr Cameron, Mr Pinera was only elected this year, and his visit to London is thought to have been planned many months ago.

He is thought to be hoping to persuade more British companies, including mining corporations, to invest in Chile.

Mr Pinera, who greeted the miners with a hug after their rescue, told The Times: “Chile will now be remembered and recognised not for Pinochet but as an example of unity, leadership, courage, faith and success.”

He also told the newspaper he had a “very strong admiration” for Mr Cameron.

Mr Pinera flew in to London’s Heathrow Airport and, after sightseeing in London on Sunday, will meet Mr Cameron and have an audience with the Queen, who has extended an invitation at the last minute following the mine rescue.

He is visiting France and Germany later this week.

Mr Pinera revealed that his father-in-law died only hours before the miners were rescued and he had told the president: “Don’t give up. Keep working to rescue the miners.”