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CURRENT AFFAIRS FOR I.A.S. (PRE.) 2011

INTERNATIONAL EVENTS
Belgium ban veils in public
Belgium has moved to the forefront of a campaign to restrict the wearing of the Muslim veil by women when a key vote left it on track to become the first European country to ban the burqa and niqab in public.

Russia offered nuclear help to Venezuela


Russia has agreed to help Venezuela draw up plans for a nuclear power plant, said President Hugo Chavez Russia and Venezuela also launched a joint business to tap vast oil deposits in eastern Venezuela, and Mr. Chavez said Moscow has offered to help Venezuela set up its own space industry including a satellite launch site. Mr. Putin also pledged to keep selling arms to Venezuela. Mr. Chavezs government has already bought more than $4 billion in Russian weapons since 2005, including helicopters, fighter jets and 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles.

Mekong basin countries have fears over Chinas projects


Chinas dam-building spree along the Mekong river in south-western Yunnan province has raised fears among several of its neighbours, who say the dams have led to shrinking levels of water downstream. Officials from Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, countries which lie in the Mekong basin, voice their concerns over eight dams that China is building along the Mekong, in talks with Chinese officials in Thailand. The four countries in 1995 set up the Mekong River Commission (MRC) to facilitate joint management and water-sharing in the Mekong region, though China and Myanmar have so far refused to formally join the body. The Mekong runs almost half of its 4,400 km course in Chinas south-west, where it is known as the Lancang, before entering Myanmar and Laos. The MRCs concerns closely echo those voiced by India in the past over Chinas plans to build dams along the Brahmaputra, or the Yarlung Tsangpo as it is known in Tibet. An estimated 60 million people depend on the Mekong river in the five countries that lie downstream. China has already built three dams in Yunnan. Five more are in the works, including the massive $4-billion Xiaowan dam, scheduled to open in 2012, which is the worlds highest dam. (Locate in Atlas)

Anti Government Protest in Bangkok


Amid the escalating anti-government protest in Bangkok, an official spokesman said massive disruption of traffic and road blockages may not be considered a peaceful demonstration as permissible under Constitution. The protesters, whose numbers have varied from 60,000 to 1,00,000 in most unofficial estimates, have been demanding genuine democracy and arguing that Mr. Abhisit, portrayed as a proxy of the military bloc, had come to power without a popular mandate. The protest is being encouraged by the former Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, now a fugitive abroad, through exhortations over video links from his bases in self-imposed exile. He was overthrown in a bloodless military coup in 2006, and Thailand has experienced varying degrees of political crisis since then.
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United States Pledged to not use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear State
The United States administration pledged to not use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear State that complied with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), as per the latest Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). Announcing some of the key results of the first unclassified NPR in its totality at the Pentagon, Secretary of Defence, Robert Gates said, If a nonnuclear State is in compliance with the NPT and its obligations, the U.S. pledges not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against it.

Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala, whose ministry made the agreement with India, has been asked for clarification by the Public Accounts Committee of the Legislature Parliament. Even the Prime Minister has been asked to clarify on giving the contract to India without announcing a tender. Among other things, the rate to which Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited has agreed $4 a copy has been controversial as other companies are reportedly offering lower rates.

Russia supports new Kyrgyz regime


Russia has signalled support for the interim coalition government formed in Kyrgyzstan in the wake of two days of large-scale riots that left 75 people dead. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin promised help and support t o i nt eri m govern ment head Roza Otunbayeva in a phone call.

Obama and Medvedev sign nuclear arms pact


Presidents Barack Obama of the United States and Dmitry Medvedev of Russia signed a Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty which will reduce their nuclear weapons stockpiles by a third of their present stock piles. The START deal, which will last for 10 years, was signed at a meeting in Prague, where Mr. Obama outlined his vision for nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation about a year ago. The agreement succeeds the 1991 START, which expired in December. It will have to be ratified by the U.S. Senate and the Russian Parliament. The new treaty limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550 about a third less than the 2,200 currently allowed. It also mandates a combined limit of 800 deployed and non-deployed Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile launchers, Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile launchers and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments; and a separate limit of 700 deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs and deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments. The warhead limit itself is 74 per cent lower than the limit of the 1991 treaty and 30 per cent lower than the deployed strategic warhead limit of the 2002 Moscow Treaty, a White House statement added

Pakistan National Assembly of Pakistan passes 18th Amendment Bill


The National Assembly passed the 18th Amendment Bill that seeks to bring back the 1973 Constitution by removing the distortions that had shorn it of its democratic components over the past 37 years. The Bill which proposes 102 amendments to the Constitution was passed by a two-thirds majority after the House rejected the amendments moved by some members on the abolition of the concurrent list, renaming the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), and removal of the provision for intra-party elections.

Rajapaksa-led ruling alliance has recorded an emphatic victory in the parliamentary


President Mahinda Rajapaksa-led ruling alliance in Sri Lanka, the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA), has recorded an emphatic victory in the parliamentary. Of the results of 180 seats declared so far, the alliance has won in 120 constituencies. The outcome of the elections to the 225-member House shows that there is no change in the public mood since the January 26 Presidential election in which Mr. Rajapaksa secured a second tenure by nearly 18 percentage points over the candidate backed by the entire Opposition.
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Nepal governments decision to issue Machine Readable Passports produced in India has sparked a controversy
The Supreme Court of Nepal has asked the government not to implement the deal with the Indian company until April 12 as two petitions have been filed against the decision. Deputy Prime Minister and

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CURRENT AFFAIRS FOR I.A.S. (PRE.) 2011

International Events

Russia has launched the construction of a new In 1986, he became the first person to reach the North Pole alone. gas pipeline to Europe Russia has launched the construction of a new gas Obama warns of threat from nuclear terrorism
pipeline to Europe that will strengthen its dominant positions in the European energy markets. The $12-billion Nord Stream pipeline would carry up to 55 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas a year from Siberian gas fields 900 km over land and 1,200 km under the Baltic Sea from Vyborg in Russia to Greifswald in Germany. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who flagged off the seabed construction, said the new pipeline would ensure stable Russian gas supplies to Europe and help avoid transit problems. Russia supplies about 150 bcm of gas to Europe, meeting a quarter of its needs. The new pipeline will give Russia a stronger hold over Europes energy supplies and reduce dependence on the transit countries, Ukraine and Belarus. Russias Gazprom monopoly has teamed up with Germanys BASF, E.ON and Dutch Gasunie to build the pipeline. (Locate In Atlas) Kicking off the first plenary session on the second day of the Nuclear Security Summit, in Washington U.S. President Barack Obama underscored the gravity of the threat of nuclear terrorism, arguing that just the smallest amount of plutonium, about the size of an apple, could kill and injure hundreds of thousands of innocent people ... Terrorist networks such as al Qaeda have tried to acquire the material for a nuclear weapon. Assuring the delegates of the 47 attending countries that Al-Qaeda would surely use nuclear materials as a weapon if they ever succeeded in obtaining it.

Three-km scar on Australias Great Barrier Reef


A Chinese coal carrier that ran aground and leaked oil on Australias Great Barrier Reef cut a three-kilometrelong scar into the shoal and may have smeared paint that will prevent marine life from growing back, the reefs chief scientist said. Even if severe toxic contamination was not found at the site, initial assessments by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority indicate it could take 20 years for the worlds largest coral reef to recover, said scientist David Wachenfeld. The 230-metre Shen Neng 1 ground into large parts of the shoal, leaving a scar three km long and up to 250 metres wide. (Locate In Atlas)

Sudan gears up for its first multi party Election


Sudan geared up for its first multi-party elections in 24 years, with a 16-million-strong electorate eligible to vote for President, MPs and local representatives.

Polish President killed in plane crash in Russia


Polish President Lech Kaczynski and a high-level delegation were killed when a plane carrying 97 people crashed in thick fog as it was approaching a Russian airport . Minutes earlier, the control tower redirected a Russian IL-76 transport aircraft from Smolensk to another airport. But the Polish pilot insisted on landing in Smolensk. Mr. Kaczynski, 60, was on his way to a memorial service at Katyn, near Smolensk, where Polish army officers were executed on the orders of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin 70 years ago during World War Two. (Locate In Atlas)

Volcano erupts again in Iceland


A volcano under a glacier in Iceland rumbled back to life, melting ice, shooting smoke and steam into the air and forcing hundreds of people to leave their homes. Emergency officials evacuated 800 residents from around the Eyjafjallajokull glacier as rivers rose by up to three metres and flooded a sparsely populated area, The volcano, 120 km east of Reykjavik, erupted March 20 after almost 200 years of silence..The last time there was an eruption near the 160-square-km Eyjafjallajokull glacier was in 1821. A bigger worry is the nearby and much larger Katla volcano, which in the past has erupted in tandem with Eyjafjallajokull. Katla is located under the vast Myrdalsjokull ice cap
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First Arctic by balloon crossing


A French explorers team says he has made the first Arctic crossing by balloon, landing in the tundra of eastern Siberia five days after taking off in Norway. Jean-Louis Etienne travelled 3,130 km in his special balloon, sailing over the Arctic Circle.

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Airports across Britain looked like ghost towns as, in an unprecedented move, British airspace was completely sealed and not a single flight was allowed either to take off or land anywhere, including military airstrips, because of safety fears after a volcanic eruption in Iceland set off a massive cloud of ash drifting towards the U.K. (Locate In Atlas)

and led on the United States side by Todd Stern, Special Envoy for climate. The 17 major-economy members of the Forum are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, UK. and the U.S.

Plutonium reactor was shutdown by Russia


Russia shut its last weapons-grade plutonium reactor in line with a pledge President Dmitry Medvedev made at the U.S. nuclear safety summit in Washington earlier this week. The ADE-2 reactor near the Siberian town of Zheleznogorsk was started in 1964 and holds the world record as the longest operating plutonium reactor. It was also the last remaining weapons-grade plutonium reactor in the world. Two other reactors at the Mining and Chemical Combine in Zhelezgogorsk were decommissioned in 1992, as Russia no longer needed to produce weapons-grade plutonium following the end of the Cold War.

G 20 Nation Meet in U.S. to discuss job crisis


Labour and Employment Ministers of the G-20 nations will meet in Washington to assess how the global economic crisis has affected employment, according to the United States Department of Labour (DoL). It said the G20 nations accounted for 85 per cent of the economy and more than two thirds of the worlds population. This meeting was therefore an unprecedented opportunity to tackle one of the worst legacies of the global economic crisis: the loss of millions of jobs. The DoL said while a few economic vital signs were improving, global unemployment has surged by 34 million, reaching a record 212 million in 2009. Even where economies were growing, unemployment remained high and was likely to rise. The 2009 G20 Summit was held in Pittsburgh.

Yellow Shirts warn Reds shirts in Thailand


Thailands elite-backed Yellow Shirts vowed to take action if the government fails to deal with red-clad protesters within a week, raising fears of clashes. The Red Shirts, who mainly support ex-Premier Thaksin Shinawatra, have occupied the capital for over a month with their anti-government campaign, which led to clashes with security forces last weekend leaving 25 people dead. Thailand is largely split between the poor and rural Reds and the pro-establishment Yellows, who hit the streets ahead of a 2006 coup that ousted their enemy Thaksin and again to see off his allies in 2008. The Yellows had remained largely silent since the Reds began mass rallies in mid-March demanding immediate elections, but they held a meeting of 3,000 to 5,000 supporters to discuss a response to the crisis.

Iran began a major three-day military exercise in Persian Gulf waters


Iran began a major three-day military exercise in Persian Gulf waters but preceded the manoeuvres by offering an olive branch to neighbouring Arab countries, many of whom are close American allies. Iran invited several regional countries to participate in the military exercises in the future. The exercise code-named Payambar-e Azam 5 (The Great Prophet 5), in which all three services are participating, is aimed at preserving the security of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, as the worlds key economic and energy routes. The indigenously built sonar-evading vessel, Ya Mahdi, participated in the drill. The Ya Mahdi vessels are apparently remote-controlled and can launch highintensity rockets. More than 300 vessels are participating in the major exercise, which coincides with the thirty-first anniversary of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)
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Stage set for Cancun on climate change


The Major Economies Forum, a platform for ministerial discussions on energy and climate issues, wrapped up in Washington after two days of meetings focussing on preparing for the summit on climate change in Cancun in November 2010. The Forum was chaired by National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs Michael Froman

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CURRENT AFFAIRS FOR I.A.S. (PRE.) 2011

International Events force, a military official said, as suspicion increasingly falls on North Korea. The Cheonan sank and was split in half after a mystery blast on March 26 close to the disputed border of the two Koreas, leaving 40 sailors confirmed dead and six others still unaccounted for. Seoul has been careful not to point the finger directly at the North over the incident in the Yellow Sea, which has stoked already tense ties, and Pyongyang has denied it was to blame. The disputed Yellow Sea border was the scene of deadly naval clashes between the North and South in 1999 and 2002 and of a fire-fight last November that left a North Korean patrol boat in flames. (Locate In Atlas)

France determined to ban the burqa


Despite a negative opinion given by Frances highest administrative court, the Conseil detat, to the effect that banning the burqa, the niqab or other full facial covering would violate the Constitution, the French government is determined to push ahead with legislation outlawing the garment.

Ukraine extends naval base lease to Russia


Ukraine has agreed to extend the Russian lease of the biggest naval base in the Black Sea by 25 years in a move that is bound to consolidate Russias strategic hold on the region. A breakthrough agreement to extend the stay of the Russian Navy in Sevastopol till 2042, with a possible five-year extension, was signed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Ukraines President Viktor Yanukovych during their meeting in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. Under the current agreement, signed in 1997, the Russian lease of the former Soviet base expires in 2017. Russia pays an annual rent of nearly $90 million for the base. Ukraines former President Viktor Yushchenko had fought hard to evict the Russian Navy from the base even before the expiry deadline, as its presence on Ukrainian territory was an obstacle to his plan to join NATO. Mr. Yanukovich, who won the presidential elections earlier this year, ruled out Ukraines NATO membership and moved to improve relations with Russia. Moscow in return has agreed to supply its natural gas to Ukraine at a 30-per cent discount, which will add up to $40 billion over the next decade. This money will be used to pay for the Russian lease of the Sevastopol base. The Russian-Ukrainian naval base agreement is a setback to U.S. efforts to establish control of the Black Sea, which is a gateway to Russia and the Caucasus. During the five-day war with Georgia in 2008, Russian warships based in Sevastopol sank a Georgian missile gunboat and played a key role in ferrying marines and weapons to the war zone. (Locate In Atlas)

Cyber-racism summit held in Australia


Leaders from the anti-discrimination and Internet communities will join forces to tackle online racism in Australia. The Australian Human Rights Commission said instances of cyber-racism, which included racist websites, images, blogs, videos and comments on website forums, were on the rise. In a bid to solve the problem, the commission has teamed up with the Internet Industry Association to co-host the summit.

Chinese will export reactor to Pakistan reactor deal


Chinas biggest operator of nuclear power plants has confirmed that it will export two 340 MW nuclear power reactors to Pakistan in a $2.375-billion agreement, in a controversial deal that analysts say goes against internationally-mandated guidelines governing the transfer of nuclear technology. The China National Nuclear Corporation, which has already set up two civilian nuclear power reactors in Pakistan, has now signed construction contracts to build two more. The two governments had in principle agreed on the deal during President Hu Jintaos visit to Islamabad in 2006. But they are yet to publicly formalise the deal. The CNNC has already agreed to build two power reactors in Pakistan, the 325 MW Chashma-1, which started operating in 2000, and Chashma-2, which will be completed next year. The statement said the two new reactors are 2x340 MW. Chashma-2 will be a benchmark for C-3 and C-4 projects,
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S. Korean warship cheonan sank in yellow sea


First inspections of the bow of a South Korean warship show it was hit by an outside impact of considerable

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The deal goes against the guidelines of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), of which China has been a member since 2004. The NSG does not allow the sale of nuclear equipment to countries that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and do not have a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. When India signed the civilian nuclear agreement with the United States, this requirement was waived.

The government looks forward to the final report of Justice Majors Commission of Inquiry into the Investigation of the Bombing of Air India Flight 182. Its findings and recommendations of Justice John Major Commission should assist our continuing efforts to protect Canadians from terrorist acts.

Chinas soft power on show in shanghai Expo


The buildings along the banks of the Huangpu river, which runs right through the middle of Shanghai, have always been powerful symbols. If the Olympics marked a display of Chinas political power, the Shanghai Expo, which was formally kicked off, is being seen as an opportunity for China to showcase its soft power to the 189 countries who will attend the event.(Locate In Atlas)

Greece vows deeper defence cuts


Greeces Defence Minister promised colossal cuts in military operating costs to help the debt-ridden country emerge from its financial crisis and speed up plans to modernise the armed forces. Greece remains at odds with neighbour and NATO ally Turkey over the divided island of Cyprus and boundaries in the Aegean Sea but has improved ties over the past decade. Athens is currently in talks with the European Union and IMF for a rescue package worth 45 billion ($60 billion) this year, and more for the following two years, to cope with its acute financing crisis that has brought it to the brink of default. (Locate In Atlas)

BP to blame for spill, says U.S.


On the rapidly worsening oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, U.S. President Barack Obama said: British Petroleum [BP] is ultimately responsible under the law for paying the costs of response and cleanup operations. The Deepwater Horizon rig, operated by BP, sank on April 22 following an explosion that killed 11 workers. It has reportedly been leaking nearly 5,000 barrels a day, prompting fears that it could equal the environmentally devastating Exxon Valdez spill near Alaska in 1989.

Oil leak in Gulf of Maxico more than eared


A BP executive agreed with a U.S. government estimate that the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico could be pumping up to 5,000 barrels a day of crude into the ocean, far more than previously thought. British energy giant BP, which leases the rig and has been leading the response to the disaster along with the U.S. Coast Guard, had earlier said they believed the flow of oil at 1,000 barrels, or 42,000 gallons, a day. (Locate In Atlas)

Iran, Syria Discussed for The Formation of regional economic bloc


Iran and Syria have discussed at length the formation of a regional economic bloc with Turkey and Iraq as their key partners. The two sides felt the move would yield economic benefits and impart political stability and security to the region. The two also discussed the construction of a pipeline for exporting Iranian gas to Syria via Turkey, as part of an effort to promote regional ties. They also considered possible tie-ups in transportation, water supply and petrochemicals. Tehran and Damascus,both countries supported the Palestinian Hamas and the Lebanese Hizbollah against Israel. The Gaza winter war of 2008-09 also enabled Turkey to share its common political concerns with Iran and Syria.(Locate In Atlas)
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Canadas assurance on separatism


Canada has said it takes very seriously the concerns raised by India about rising activities of Si kh sepa rat ist s affil iat ed t o t he Khal ist an movement in the country. Describing the Kanishka bombing as a terrible tr agedy an d the worst t er ror ist i nci den t in Canadian history, Mr. MacDougall said: It is a reminder to all Canadians that we are not immune to the threat of terrorism.

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CURRENT AFFAIRS FOR I.A.S. (PRE.) 2011

International Events

Explosive device found in New York

Pakistan tests two surface to surface nuclearPolice averted a very deadly event when they capable ballistic missiles
discovered an explosive device in a car in the bustling Times Square in New York City. Pakistan said it had successfully tested two surfaceto-surface missiles capable of carrying both nuclear and conventional warheads and ensured the operational readiness of the Strategic Missile Groups equipped with Ghaznavi and Shaheen missile systems.

Building up nuclear Stockpiling is shameful, says Ahmadinejad

Speaking at the start of the four-week nuclear Non- The successful training launch of the Short Range Ballistic Missile Hatf III (Ghaznavi) and Medium Range Proliferation Treaty Review Conference at the United Ballistic Missile Hatf IV (Shaheen 1) was announced Nations in New York, Iranian President Mahmoud by Inter-Services Public Relations Ahmadinejad described the policy of building up nuclear stockpiles for the purposes of deterrent as Ghaznavi can carry warheads up to 290 km, Shaheens range was in the vicinity of 650 km. disgusting and shameful, and not a source of pride. Conservation leader David Cameron is new In a reference to the recently announced U.S. Nuclear British Prime Minister Posture Review, Mr. Ahmadinejad called for states Britains first post-war coalition government, with that threaten to use atomic weapons to be punished. Conservative leader David Cameron as Prime Minister He further described as hazardous the production and his Liberal Democrat counterpart Nick Clegg as and stockpiling of nuclear weapons by world powers, Deputy Prime Minister, took office, promising to give and made a reference to a 2007 episode in the United the country a historic new direction as the sun set States when an aircraft mistakenly transported six on the 13-year Labour rule with Gordon Browns dramatic resignation. nuclear-tipped cruise missiles within U.S. territory. William Hague, a right-wing Conservative with a hard line on Europe, is the new Foreign Secretary; George Osborne, a close ally of Mr. Cameron, the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and Liberal Democrat Vince Cable, who famously predicted the banking crisis, the Business Secretary. At 43, Mr. Cameron is the youngest Prime Minister since 1812. His elitist background having been the son of a stockbroker and educated at Eton and Oxford University was sought to be made into an election issue by the Labour Party, which argued that he was not in touch with the ordinary people. Like him, Mr. Clegg, also 43, has a whiff of class baggage. Son of a banker with an aristocratic RussianGerman lineage, he was privately educated and then he went to Cambridge.

Faisal Shahzad a Pakistan-born man held for Times Square bomb


Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistan-born citizen of the United States, was arrested in connection with the Times Square bomb incident, even as he tried to board a flight from New Yorks John F. Kennedy International Airport to Dubai, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

North Korea Will work with Beijing on N-talks


North Koreas leader Kim Jong-il ended his four-day secretive visit to China, telling his hosts he was willing to help revive stalled negotiations over his countrys controversial nuclear programme. Mr. Kim held extensive meetings with Mr. Hu, and also met Premier Wen Jiabao and the seven other top leaders of the ruling Communist Party

Mr. Kim as saying he was willing to create favourable conditions to resume the stalled six-party talks the dialogue framework with South Korea, the United States, Japan and Russia over the Norths controversial nuclear programme. North Korea quit the talks after the United Nations imposed sanctions following a nuclear test conducted last April 2009.

Moist Chief Prachanda ready to disband guerilla army


As Nepals political parties struggled to reach a compromise to end the standoff between the government and the former rebels, Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda has said he is ready to dissolve the partys paramilitary organisation and facilitate the integration of its combatants with the Army.
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Trilateral meet on Irans nuclear programme


Turkey, Brazil and Iran are set to hold trilateral talks that could help defuse tensions surrounding Irans nuclear programme. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrive in Tehran for talks with his host, Irans President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the Brazilian President. Mr. da Silva arrive on May 17 to participate in the G-15 summit, which also attended by External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna. The talks achieve a breakthrough on a nuclear swap deal between Iran and the global powers. Analysts say significant progress on a swap arrangement that would allow Iran to import nuclear fuel for its medical reactor in Tehran, in return for the export of domestically produced low enriched uranium, could diminish chances of Iran being subjected to fresh international sanctions. Iran was also looking forward to follow-up discussions in Turkey with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany. The Turks have suggested that Irans top negotiator on the nuclear issue, Saeed Jalili should hold direct talks with Catherine Ashton, the European Union foreign policy head, who would represent the global powers.

upstream countries. Though the Nile waters are divided by means of an agreement that dates back to 1929, Egypt and Sudan being upstream countries insist that the old agreement still holds. Four of the seven upstream countries signed a new agreement in Uganda to set up a body to overlook the distribution of Nile waters in a different way against the will of both Egypt and Sudan. Despite strong opposition from their northern neighbours, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia signed the agreement. While Kenya, Burundi and the DR Congo were expected to sign it within the 12 months allowed by the accord. Egypt has expressed vehement objection to the agreement signed by a number of Nile Basin countries changing the way the Nile Waters are shared. (Locate In Atlas)

Iran agrees to uranium swap in Turkey


Iran agreed to swap a major part of its low enriched uranium stocks on Turkish soil for an equivalent amount of uranium enriched to 19.75 per cent, potentially ending a stand-off with the U.S. and Europe that threatened to spiral into sanctions. Iran needs the higher grade enriched uranium to fuel the Tehran Research Reactor, used by it to produce medical isotopes. The deal was reached after 18 hours of negotiations ending 4 a.m. among Iran, Turkey and Brazil, leaving Washington and its allies red-faced. The U.S. and Europe are pressing for the punitive route and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had predicted that the Brazilian-Turkish attempt at mediation would fail.

IMF loan gave $1.3 billion to Pakistan


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved immediate disbursement of $1.3 billion of financial assistance to Pakistan, as it noted that the countrys vulnerability remains high. A decision in this regard was taken by the IMF Executive Board following the completion of fourth review of Pakistans economic performance under a programme supported by a Stand-By Arrangement (SBA). With this, the total disbursement to Pakistan so far has been $7.27 billion.

Noam Chomsky accused Israel of acting like a totalitarian state


Noam Chomsky accused Israel of acting like a totalitarian state after an Israeli government decision banning him from entering the West Bank. Mr. Chomsky (81), a Jewish-American professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a strong critic of Israel, had been invited to lecture at the Palestinian Birzeit University, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah. Speaking over the phone from Amman, Jordan, to a press conference in Ramallah, Mr. Chomsky said he was held up for five hours at the Israeli-controlled Allenby Crossing between Jordan and the West Bank, only to be told later that he would not be allowed through.
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Egypt objects to Nile basin pact signed by in Nile Basin Countries


Egypt objected to an agreement signed by four Nile Basin countries in Uganda for changing the way the river waters are shared, even as the deal created a permanent body to manage it. Nile river stretches more than 6,600 km from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean. The Nile is a vital water and energy source for the nine countries through which it flows. The original colonial-era agreement gives Cairo the power to veto dams and other water projects in

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CURRENT AFFAIRS FOR I.A.S. (PRE.) 2011

International Events water flows while the first was about differences over technical issues of the project. (Locate In Atlas)

Thai security forces storm Red Shirt bastion, crush protest


Thailands military and civilian leaders assumed full control of the situation after crushing a two-month protest and imposing an overnight curfew in the capital, Bangkok, and over 20 provinces. Bangkok and most of these provinces were already in a state of emergency for several weeks. The latest phase of the protest movement by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) first began on March 12. The UDD is an umbrella group of pro-democracy activists and loyalists of Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed in a military coup in 2006 and is now a proclaimed fugitive living in self-imposed exile. Nearly 60 people were killed in intermittent cla shes between the UDD a ctivists and the military and other security forces during this prolonged crisis. T h e Red Sh i r t UD D pr ot est er s h a ve been demanding immediate dissolution of the House of Representatives and a snap general election. Military-backed Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who set a November 14 timeline for a fresh poll, about a year ahead of schedule, later withdrew the offer, citing its rejection by the UDD leaders.

South Korea accused North Korea of firing a torpedo that sank a naval warship
Tensions deepened on the Korean peninsula as South Korea accused North Korea of firing a torpedo that sank a naval warship, killing 46 sailors in the countrys worst military disaster since the Korean War. North Korea called the results a fabrication, and warned that any retaliation would trigger war. It continued to deny involvement in the sinking of the warship Cheonan. An international civilian-military investigation team said evidence overwhelmingly proved a North Korean submarine fired a homing torpedo that caused a massive underwater blast that tore the Cheonan apart. While 58 sailors were rescued from the frigid Yellow Sea waters, 46 died. Since the 1950-53 war on the Korean peninsula ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty, the two Koreas remain locked in a state of war and divided by the worlds most heavily armed border. (Locate In Atlas)

Obama announce a Panel on oil spill


President Barack Obama announced the establishment of a bipartisan National Commission to investigate the oil spill from British Petroleums Deepwater Horizon rig. The rig exploded on April 20 and has since been spewing massive amounts of oil into the Gulf of Mexico seriously endangering its marine life and the coastlands of Louisiana. As per an executive order signed by the President the Commission, which will also closely examine the activities the offshore drilling industry, will be cochaired by former two-term Florida Governor and former Senator Bob Graham and also former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency William Reilly

Pakistan has sent a note verbale to India on May 17 on the disputed Kishanganga project
Pakistan has sent a note verbale to India on May 17 on the disputed Kishanganga project, clearly indicating its intention to set up a Court of Arbitration as provided in the dispute settlement mechanism under the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT). The first one was sent on April 9 where it informed India of its decision to invoke Article IX of the IWT to seek World Bank arbitration. India till date has not responded to Pakistans first note verbale in which Islamabad has asked New Delhi to decide on its two negotiators for the arbitration process and also inform the World Bank about the need to appoint a neutral expert as the t wo coun tr i es h a ve been un able to r esolve differences within the Permanent Indus Waters Commission. The second note verbale, according to Foreign Office officials, has to do with disputes relating to

SCOs approved draft rule for new admissions


In a historic decision, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) has approved draft rules for admitting new members into the six-member regional security grouping. The new rules were endorsed by the SCO Foreign Ministers at their meeting in Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan,. The rules are expected to be finally approved by the Heads of State of the SCO at a summit meeting in Tashkent.
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The decision signals the lifting of a moratorium on the admission of new members the SCO introduced shortly after its establishment in 2001. The SCO comprises Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The nations which have observer status India Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan would be prime candidates for full membership. Iran will not immediately be able to enrol as the rules lock out nations that are under U.N. Security Council sanctions, a Russian diplomat said. (Locate In Atlas)

controllability and gradual progress, said Mr. Hu, suggesting China would, in the near-term, ignore U.S. calls for its appreciation.

Russia has denounced the deployment of U.S. Patriot missiles in Poland


Russia has denounced the deployment of U.S. Patriot missiles in Poland as detrimental to regional security and trust. Such military activity does not help to strengthen our mutual security, to develop relations of trust and predictability in this region, said the Foreign Ministry . A battery of U.S. Patriot air defence missiles, to be manned by up to 150 U.S. troops, arrived in Morag, a small town in north-eastern Poland just 60 km from the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. It is the first deployment of U.S. surface-to-air missiles so close to Russias borders. The missiles will be able to shoot down aircraft and missiles over the entire Kaliningrad region, according to Russias NATO envoy Dmitry Rogozin. The Pentagon said the main purpose of the temporary deployment is to teach the Polish military to operate the advanced guided missile system. However, in 2012 the Patriot base will become permanent. Under President Barack Obamas reconfigured missile defence plan for Europe, Poland is also expected by 2018 to host SM-3 missile interceptors capable of shooting down Russian ballistic missiles. (Locate In Atlas)

Japan P.M. Hatoyama apologises over U-urn on U.S. base


Ja pa n ese Pr i m e Mi n ist er Yuki o Ha t oya m a apologised for breaking his election pledge to move an unpopular U.S. military base off Okinawa, also receiving a public dressing-down from local officials. Mr. Hatoyamas initial plan had caused friction with close ally Washington and his perceived dithering on the issue since followed by his U-turn has badly hurt his approval ratings. Okinawa, which hosts more than half the 47,000 U.S. troops in Japan, has long sought to remove the bases, which are locally unpopular mainly because of noise, pollution and the risk of accidents and crimes. Relations between Japan and the United States have been strained since the centre-left Premier took power last September after a landslide poll victory, pledging to move the base off Okinawa, scrapping a 2006 deal between the previous conservative government and Washington. The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama had urged Mr. Hatoyama to stay with the original pact, arguing a strong U.S military presence is crucial for the defence of Japan and stability in the wider Asia-Pacific region. (Locate In Atlas)

Pakistan, Iran to sign gas pipeline deal


Two months after Pakistan and Iran signed a deal for the construction of a pipeline that would allow Iranian gas to be pumped into Balochistan and Sindh, the two countries will sign a sovereign guarantee for constructing the much delayed project that was envisaged as a peace pipeline extending right into India. The sovereign guarantee for the $ 7.6 billion project will be signed by representatives of the National Iranian Oil Company and Pakistans Petroleum Ministry. The two countries had inked the deal on March 17 this year in Turkey as per which a pipeline will connect Irans South Pars gas field with Pakistans southern Balochistan and Sindh provinces.
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China, U.S. discuss to reform Chins exchange rate mechanism


Chinese President Hu Jintao pledged to reform Chinas exchange-rate mechanism, but gave no commitment to revaluing his countrys currency at the start of a two-day dialogue with the United States. Chinas valuation of the Yuan, which the U.S. says has been kept artificially low, would only be decided under the principles of independent decision-making,

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CURRENT AFFAIRS FOR I.A.S. (PRE.) 2011

International Events The conference also decided on scheduling a meeting in 2012 to discuss the creation of a Middle East (West Asia) Nuclear Free Zone.

As part of the project, gas will be pumped directly into energy-hungry Pakistan daily from Iran by the middle of the next decade.

The pipeline will begin from Irans Assalouyeh Energy The NPT Review Conference is held every five years Zone in the South and stretch over 1,100 km through to assess the progress in reaching the goals set out the country before it enters Pakistan. The initial in the 1970 treaty to disarm and stop the spread of capacity of the pipeline will be 22 billion cubic meters nuclear weapons. India, Pakistan and Israel did not of natural gas per annum. It is expected to be later attend. raised to 55 billion cubic metres. The U.S. took exception to the fact that Israel had Security considerations and inability to come to an been singled out in the text a key demand of the understanding with Pakistan over transmission Arab states. charges saw India vacillate over joining the project. U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed the accord Finally, Iran and Pakistan decided to enter into a but strongly opposed singling Israel out over talks bilateral agreement though the former has continued on a nuclear weapons-free West Asia. to maintain that India was welcome to join the project. U.S. Will supports Sri Lankan truth panel (Locate In Atlas) The United States has expressed the hope that the Reconciliation Commission established by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to study events from 2002 till the military defeat of the LTTE would be given broad enough mandate.

Nepal political parties agree to extend term of Constituent Assembly

Nepal political parties agreed to extend the term of the Constituent Assembly by one year as part of a crucial deal under which Prime Minister Madhav Israeli commandos attacked a high-profile Kumar Nepal agreed to step down. The deal was struck by top leaders of the UCPNMaoist, the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML with just hours left for the expiry of term of the Constituent Assembly. Nepals ruling coalition introduced a bill in the 601- Assembly to extend the term of the House by one year so that it could finish the task of framing a new constitution. The CPN-Maoist party, with nearly 35 per cent of the parliamentary seats, had refused to cooperate in extending the term of the Assembly till Prime Minister Nepal quits. The Maoists, having 229 parliamentary seats, had refused to vote for the bill to extend the term of the 601-member Constituent Assembly unless the Prime Minister stands down.

Gaza-bound aid flotilla, killing up to 19 people


Israeli commandos attacked a high-profile Gaza-bound aid flotilla, killing up to 19 people and triggering in its wake a wave of outrage across the globe. The convoy of six ships was assaulted in the early hours after commandos slithered down from helicopters and confronted passengers on board, mostly pro-Palestinian activists. The ships comprising the flotilla arrived from Britain, Ireland, Algeria, Kuwait, Greece and Turkey. Insani Yardim Vakfi (Humanitarian Aid Association), a Turkish, non-governmental organisation had coordinated the relief mission. The 700 passengers on board included a Nobel laureate and several European parliamentarians, concerns about whose safety and wellbeing have caught the attention of the European Union. The convoy was ferrying 10,000 tonnes of humanitarian relief supplies for Gaza residents who have been reeling under a blockade since the end of Israels winter war with Hamas in Gaza in 2009.

United Nations has asked India, Pakistan and Israel to join NPT and CTBT

In a departure from tradition of not singling out countries by name, the United Nations has asked India, Pakistan and Israel to join NPT and CTBT Egypt opens border crossing to breach the Gaza blockade without further delay and pre-conditions. The U.N.s call to the three countries to join nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) came at the end of the monthlong 2010 NPT review conference.

A day after the deadly Israeli raid on an aid flotilla that intended to breach the Gaza blockade, Egypt has announced that it has opened its key border crossing with the coastal strip.
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Cairos decision to open the Rafah crossing till further notice follows a mounting international clamour for the lifting of the Gaza siege imposed three years ago by Israel, with Egypts help. The intensity with which a majority of global powers called for Gazas liberation from its economic shackles became visible during Security Council meeting in New York. The ghastly raid is shaking up Israels special relations with several western partners, and influential players in West Asia, including Turkey and Egypt. (Locate In Atlas)

venture with the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom that would give Russia control over its gas transit to Europe. Russia in turn has agreed to slash 30 per cent off its gas price for Ukraine and to extend a $500-million credit to help stabilise the Ukrainian budget.

Naoto Kan is The New Japanese P.M.


Naoto Kan, famous for his lack of political lineage, was elected Japans Prime Minister. He succeeds Yukio Hatoyama, who resigned, citing his failure to stay in step with the peoples wishes. Mr. Kan (63), Deputy Prime Minister under Mr. Hatoyama, gained endorsement by the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors separately. The parallel voting is mandatory, and in case of discrepancy between the two choices, the person elected by the Representatives will be the Prime Minister. Mr. Kans endorsement by Diet (Parliament) followed his election as the president of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the leading constituent of the ruling coalition. The LDPs junior partner, the Peoples New Party, opted to stay with Mr. Kan. The Social Democratic Party, which parted ways with Mr. Hatoyama over his controversial decision to let a deeply unpopular American military base remain in the Okinawa prefecture, did not join Mr. Kans coalition.

Japanese Premier resigns over Okinawa base


Japans centre-left Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama resigned, citing his failure to stay attuned to the peoples wishes. His political stock recently fell below the 20 per cent mark from a one-time high of 70 per cent in the opinion polls. Mr. Hatoyama is the fourth successive Prime Minister to quit after a year or less at the helm. The other three belonged to the Liberal Democratic Party, in opposition since last September.

Ukraine has officially drops NATO membership plans


Ukraine has officially taken NATO membership off its agenda in a volte face on policy ardently pursued by t he pr evi ous Pr esi den t, Vi kt or Yushchenko. The Ukrainian Parliament approved in first reading a Bill that amends a 2003 national security law to exclude the goal of integration into Euro-Atlantic security and membership in NATO. The Bill submitted by President Viktor Yanukovych commits Ukraine to a non-bloc policy which means nonparticipation in military-political alliances. Kiev formally applied to join NATO in 2008, and even though the alliance failed to immediately give the green light to the Ukrainian bid, Mr. Yushchenko vowed to win NATO membership as the only way to safeguard Ukrainian sovereignty. Since coming to power, Mr. Yanukovych has pushed to rebuild the strategic partnership with Russia that was all but destroyed by his predecessor. He has extended for 25 years the Russian lease of the strategic Black Sea naval base at Sevastopol, proposed integrating the aviation and nuclear power industries of the two countries and mulls setting up a joint

Amid restrictions, activists mark The 21st Tiananmen Square protest anniversary
Chinese activists and parents of victims quietly marked the 21st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, amid an increased security presence in the heart of Beijing and persisting restrictions on the media from discussing the sensitive anniversary. On June 4 1989, hundreds of pro-democracy students and ordinary citizens were killed in and around the square and in the streets of Beijing, when Chinas ruling Communist Party ordered the military to crack down and open fire on protesters.

Turkeys ties with Israel plunge to a new low


Turkeys ties with Israel plunge to a new low as Ankara threatened to draw-down its economic and military ties with Tel Aviv in the wake of Israeli attack on the Gaza aid flotilla.
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International Events The surge in Special Operations deployments, along with intensified CIA drone attacks in western Pakistan, is the other side of the national security doctrine of global engagement and domestic values President Obama released. Of about 13,000 US special forces deployed overseas, about 9,000 are evenly divided between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Nine people, most of them Turkish activists were killed when Israeli commandos slithered from helicopters and stormed Mavi Marmara, the lead Gaza bound aid ship of the convoy.

Israel troops takes control of Irish aid ship


Israeli troops took control of an Irish flagged aid ship bound for Gaza and forced it to head for the Israeli port of Ashdod. The ship MV Rachel Corrie, named after a young American woman who was crushed to death in Gaza in 2003 by an Israeli bulldozer, was ferrying hundreds of tonnes to humanitarian aid for besieged Gaza residents.

Abu Dhabis leaning tower beats Italys tower Pisa


An Abu Dhabi tower has been recognised as the furthest-leaning man-made tower in the world by Guinness World Records. The 160-metre Capital Gate tower, developed by the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Company, leans at 18 degrees over four times the angle of Italys famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, Khaleej Times reported. The United Arab Emirates is home to another world record building, the 828-metre Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which is the tallest building in the world. (Locate In Atlas)

U.S., China differ on nuclear posture in The Asian Security Summit


The United States pledged to keep its nuclear umbrellas for its allies in good shape, while China vowed against a nuclear arms race. With the nuclear arms issue figuring in two different plenary sessions of the Asia Security Summit in (SINGAPORE), U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said allies and partners would continue to be covered under the doctrine of extended deterrence. Through conventional and nuclear capabilities, we will extend [into the future] an umbrella of protection over our allies. On Chinas different nuclear posture, Ma Xiaotian, a top executive of the Peoples Liberation Army, said: We have not participated in any nuclear arms race and will never do that in the future. We have the least number of nuclear experiments. Consistent with security interests, nuclear transparency was being observed, said General Ma at the conference being organised by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Iran announces to send two aid ships to Gaza


Iran announced that it was sending two ship loads of aid into Gaza and asserted that its Navy was ready to escort vessels wanting to deliver humanitarian assistance to residents of the besieged coastal strip. Irans assertion coincided with fresh warnings from Turkey and Syria to Israel that it must lift the siege around Gaza. Syria is Irans close ally, while ties between Ankara and Tehran are on the upswing, especially after Turkeys recent involvement in effort to resolve Irans nuclear row with the West.

President Obama nod for surge in secret war


Behind his public rhetoric of global engagement and diplomacy, U.S. President Barack Obama has secretly sanctioned the deployment of U.S. special forces to 75 countries as part of a secret war against Al-Qaeda and other radical groups. American troops are now operating in 75 countries compared with about 60 at the beginning of last year, the Washington Post reported. Mr. Obama has asked for a 5.7 per cent increase in the Special Operations budget for fiscal 2011, for a total of $6.3 billion, plus an additional $3.5 billion in 2010 contingency funding.

Russian expert undercuts Cheonan sinking theory


Russian experts who carried out a probe into the South Korean warship sinking refused to put the blame on North Korea, military sources said. A team of four submarine and torpedo experts from the Russian Navy returned to Moscow after making an independent assessment of the March 26 sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan, in which 46 sailors were killed. A Russian Navy source said the experts had not found convincing evidence of North Koreas involvement.
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U.N. Imposes fourth round of sanctions on Iran


The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has by a heavy margin imposed a fourth round of sanctions against Iran. Of the 15 members in the Council, 12 voted in favour of sanctions. Turkey and Brazil opposed the sanctions, while Lebanon abstained. Hours before the UNSC vote, Russia, France and the United States responded to the nuclear swap deal that Iran, Turkey and Brazil had signed last month.

Kyrgyz residents. Eyewitnesses said gangs of ethnic Kyrgyz were rampaging Uzbek-populated parts of Osh, indiscriminately killing, looting and setting houses on fire. The government declared emergency in the city of Jalal-Abad as unrest spread to the city 60 km away from Osh. Mr. Otunbayeva blamed ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyevs family for instigating riots in their stronghold in Osh in an attempt to disrupt a constitutional referendum scheduled for late June. Mr. Bakiyev fled Kyrgyzstan after being toppled in a bloody coup in early April. The violence is the worst since 1990 when hundreds of people, mostly Uzbek, were killed in Osh. At that time Kyrgyzstan was part of the Soviet Union, and Moscow sent troops to stop the violence. Experts said for Russia to help today it must get a peacekeeping mandate either from the Commonwealth of Independent States, a loose alliance of post-Soviet states, or the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, the Russia-led defence bloc of seven ex-Soviet states. (Locate In Atlas)

Sri Lanka plans Constitutional reform to the 1978 constitution


The Sri Lankan Cabinet under the chairmanship of Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne has approved a proposal for important amendments to the 1978 Constitution dealing with presidency, procedure and powers of Parliament and the establishment of provincial councils. The proposal assumes significance as there is consensus among political parties that the 1978 Constitution, introduced by the then President, J.R. Jayawardene, has aggravated the ethnic strife. The 1978 Constitution confers absolute powers on t h e Pr esi den t, r educi n g t h e i m port a n ce of Pa rl i a m en t . T he syst em of pr opor t i on a l representation has also been criticised as lopsided.

Myanmar denies links to N. Korea for developing nuclear Weapons


Military-ruled Myanmar has asserted that none of its agencies is engaged in developing nuclear weapons. As a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Treaty on Southeast Asia NuclearWeapons-Free Zone, Myanmar emphasised how it has been actively participating in the United Nations Conference on Disarmament in Geneva as a founding member.

China offers $200 million to Sri Lankas Hambantota Port


Beijing has offered $200 million to Colombo for the second phase of the Hambantota Port. Lanka $3.06 billion in financial assistance for various projects. Among the major development projects underway with Chinese assistance are the ColomboKatunayake expressway project, Norochcholai power plant, Hambantota port development project, tank fa rm pr oject at Hambant ot a, an d t he road infrastructure project. (Locate In Atlas)

Russia posts Kyrgyz plea to defence bloc of exSince 2006, the Chinese government has provided Sri soviet States
Even as large-scale rioting continued in Kyrgyzstan , Russia has sidestepped Kyrgyzstans request for military help, redirecting the plea to the defence bloc of ex-Soviet states. More than 100 people have been killed and over 1,000 wounded according to local health officials, with Kyrgyz mobs burning Uzbek neighbourhoods and slaughtering their residents in Osh, Kyrgyzstans second largest city in the countrys south. Interim President Roza Otunbayeva asked Russia for military help, but the Kremlin passed on the request to the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), to which both Russia and Kyrgyzstan belong.
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Kyrgyzstan appealed for Russian troops


Kyrgyzstans interim government has appealed to Russia to send troops to quell growing ethnic violence in the southern city of Osh. Ethnic Uzbek account for half of the 250,000-strong population in Osh and are generally better off than

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International Events Afghanistan has so much of the metal that it could become the Saudi Arabia of lithium, according to an internal Pentagon memo quoted by the New York Times. The iron and copper deposits are also large enough to make Afghanistan one of the worlds top producers.

The other member-states are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, as the rotating president of the CSTO, called a meeting of the defence blocs security chiefs to discuss the crisis. (Locate In Atlas)

Deadlock in Belgium after The legislative Polls Iran executed Jundallah chief Abdol malek Rigi
Belgium has a fresh crisis on its hands, with legislative polls yet again throwing up two distinct and mutually hostile political blocs. The country, which has been mired in political instability caused by linguistic quarrels between the Dutch-speaking Flems and the French-speaking Wallons has been unable to come out of a political deadlock. About 60 per cent of Belgiums 10.6 million people speak Dutch, the rest French. A small number also speak German. The New Flemish Alliance (NVA) a nationalist and separatist party emerged triumphant in the northern Flemish-speaking regions, while the Socialist Party did well in the French speaking districts. This has raised the spectre of the countrys outright break up or the creation of a loose federation between the Flemish and French-speaking Wallon regions. Belgium is to take over the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union on the 1st of July 2010 but it now looks highly unlikely that a government will be in place by then. Elections were called after Prime Minister Yves Leterme tendered his resignation in April following disputes over the areas surrounding Brussels, the capital, a Frenchspeaking enclave in Flemish territory. Iran executed Abdolmalek Rigi, leader of the Pakistanbased Jundallah group, which has taken responsibility for several violent attacks inside Iran. The head of the armed counter-revolutionary group in the east of the country ... was responsible for armed robbery, assassination attempts, armed attacks on the Army and police and on ordinary people, and murder. The court statement said Jundallah was responsible for the killing of 154 members of security forces and other innocent people and wounding of 320 people since 2003. It added that the Jundallah was linked to members of foreign intelligence services, from the U.S. and Israel under the cover of NATO. The group was also connected to the Mujahedeen-e- Khalq Organisation (MKO), which Iran says is responsible for several deadly bombings in the country. In October, Jundallah claimed responsibility for a major strike in Irans Sistan and Baluchistan province which killed 42 people, including Brigadier-General Nourali Shoushtari, a Lieutenant Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC). Rigi was arrested by Irans security forces on February 23 after his flight from Dubai to Bishkek was forced to land at a location in eastern Iran.

Afghanistan has nearly one trillion dollars in mineral deposits


Afghanistan has nearly one trillion dollars in mineral deposits, according to a U.S. study, but there are doubts the war-torn and graft-prone country can manage the windfall offered by the untapped riches. Afghanistans potential lithium deposits are as large of those of Bolivia, which currently has the worlds largest known reserves of the lightweight metal, the Times said. There is ever-growing demand for lithium, which is used to make batteries for everything from mobile phones and cameras to iPads and laptops. Future growth in electric and hybrid cars could create still more demand.

Mass starvation in West Africa


Starving people in drought-stricken west Africa are being forced to eat leaves and collect grain from ant hills, say aid agencies, warning that 10 million people face starvation across the region. In Niger, which the United Nations classifies as the worlds least developed country, starving families are eating flour mixed with wild leaves and boiled plants. More than 7 million people almost half the population face food insecurity in the country, making it the hardest hit by the crisis. According to U.N. agencies, 2,00,000 children need treatment for malnutrition in Niger alone.
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McChrystal The top US commander in Afganistan caught in a row


The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan has been summoned to Washington to explain derogatory comments about President Barack Obama and his colleagues. General Stanley McChrystal, who publicly apologised for using poor judgment in an interview in Rolling Stone magazine, has been ordered to attend the monthly White House meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan in person . The article in Rolling Stone depicts General McChrystal as a lone wolf on the outs with many important figures in the Obama administration and unable to persuade even some of his own soldiers that his strategy can win the war.

Ban Ki-moon to advice him on matters related to accountability and alleged human rights violations in the last phase of the war between the island nations security forces and the LTTE.

CSTO team a block of former Soviet States heads for Kyrgyzstan


A high-powered team of the Russia-led defence bloc of former Soviet states is heading for violence-torn Kyrgyzstan even as a senior Russian official called for setting up a second Russian military base in the region. A delegation of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) led by its Secretary-General Nikolai Bordyuzha will be going to Kyrgyzstan to assess the situation in the countrys south following four days of bloody inter-ethnic riots last week. In the wake of the Kyrgyz riots CSTO promised to supply helicopters and other hardware, but declined to send peacekeepers requested by Kyrgyzstans interim government. (Locate In Atlas)

Julia Gillard Sworn in as Australias first woman Prime Minister


Julia Gillard was sworn in as Australias first woman Prime Minister, after she toppled Kevin Rudd as leader of the ruling Labour party in what was seen across the region as a political coup at the speed of thought. Ms. Gillard was Deputy Prime Minister under Mr. Rudd who had led Labour to a remarkable victory in the last federal election in November 2007.

Guinea a West African country to vote in first free polls since 1958
Guineas historic election will not be perfect, analysts say, but a strong turnout is expected from among four million voters keen to put an end to half a century of dictatorship rule. The West African country is holding in its first free election since independence in 1958. Guineas father of independence turned President-for-life Ahmed Sekou Toure ruled repressively for 26 years and his sudden death in 1984 was quickly followed by a coup which led to 24 years of military rule by General Lansana Conte. After Contes death in 2008, another military junta led by Captain Musa Dadis Camara, promising elections, the happiness of the people and a fight against corruption, quickly led the country into disaster. This election is taking place nine months after an army massacre left at least 156 of Camaras opponents brutally murdered. Since then Guineans were delivered a transition government. (Locate In Atlas)

Sri Lanka rejects EU offer


The Sri Lankan government rejected the conditional offer made by the European Union (EU) for extension of GSP+ tariff concessions for a limited period and said that the conditions imposed by the EU amounted to interference into the internal affairs of the island nation. Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris maintained that 15 conditions imposed by the EU on GSP+ tariff concessions amounting to $150 million undermined the sovereignty of Sri Lanka and were not acceptable. The European Commission had said earlier that it was ready to propose to the European Council to maintain GSP+ preferences for Sri Lanka for a limited additional period, subject to a clear and written commitment by the government of Sri Lanka to undertake a well defined number of human rights related actions within a six-month period beginning in July. The Sri Lanka governments rejection of the EUs offer came a day after it denounced the appointment of a three-member experts panel by U.N. Secretary-General

Kyrgyzstan votes for new constitution


Many Kyrgyz voters turned out for a national referendum on a new Constitution despite a recent flare-up of ethnic violence in the south. If approved, the Constitution would transform Kyrgyzstan from a presidential to a parliamentary
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International Events Speaking in Toronto, Canada, after attending the G-8 and G-20 summits the Russian leader warned that Kyrgyzstan faced the threat of breaking up. To avoid such a scenario you need strong, well-organised government, said Mr. Medvedev.

republ ic, wit h m ai n power s shi ft ed fr om a nationally elected President to a Prime Minister c h os en by P a r l i a m en t . T h i s woul d m a k e Kyrgyzstan the first parliamentary democracy in for mer Soviet Cen tr al Asia . Par li a ment ar y elections are planned in Kyrgyzstan in October. (Locate In Atlas)

Iran to go ahead with swap talks


Iran has clarified that it does not plan to interrupt its dialogue with the West on the proposed nuclear fuel deal but talks on its uranium enrichment programme have been stalled for another two months. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Iran was preparing its response to questions raised by the U.S., Russia and France, also called the Vienna group, about an agreement on a nuclear swap that Tehran had reached with Turkey and Brazil last month. Iran, Turkey and Brazil had on May 17 signed the Tehran Declaration, under which Iran is to transfer 1,200 kg of its domestically produced stocks of lightly enriched uranium to Turkey. In return, it would receive 20 per cent-enriched uranium fuel for use in a Tehran based medical reactor that is engaged in producing nuclear medicine. The Vienna group, which had first proposed a nuclear fuel deal in October, has responded in writing to the Tehran Declaration, opening the possibility of further talks in the coming days.

Life affected in Bangladesh because of hartal


Bangladesh experienced the first anti-government countrywide dawn-to-dusk hartal enforced by the main opposition BNP partially affecting major cities including Dhaka. The former Premier, Khaleda Zia, called the shutdown to protest against the governments failure to resolve gas, electricity and water crises. It also demanded an end to tender manipulation, extortion and politicisation of the administration and judiciary. Ms. Khaleda Zia also demanded scrapping of all treaties signed with India and resignation of the Election Commissio.

Landmark euthanasia ruling in Germany


In a ruling that expands the right of dying people to refuse life-prolonging treatment, Germanys top court has acquitted a lawyer of attemptedeuthanasia charges. Germany has very strict rules against allowing terminally-ill people to die, partly in response to the mass killing of disabled people under the Nazi regime. The ruling still does not permit mercy killing. The Federal High Court overturned the conviction and suspended a 9-month prison sentence on th e l awyer, who specia lises in medical law. He had advised a client by phone to sever a feeding tube to her nearly comatose mother s stomach to hasten her death. In a referendum, 91 per cent of voters approved the new Constitution of Kyrgyzstan, the countrys election commission said after counting votes from 90 per cent of the polling stations. The Constitution approved would devolve power from the President to Parliament. This will make Kyrgyzstan the first state in Central Asia with a parliamentary form of government. Kyrgyzstan will adopt the new political system this year itself after elections to Parliament are held within the next few months.

U.N. Forum to create new body on gender equality


The United Nations General Assembly has voted unanimously to create a new body for accelerating gender equality and womens empowerment, br in gi n g t o a cl ose four yea r s of t ough negotiations, according to a U.N. statement. The body, to be known as UN Women (UNW), will bring the four existing U.N. bodies dealing with gender issues under a single umbrella. The resolution also called for the appointment of an Under-Secretary-General to head UNW, and the establishment of an executive board to provide intergovernmental support to and supervision of its operational activities. Mr. Ban named Deputy Secretary-General, AshaRose Migiro, to guide the transition process that would entail the dissolution of the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the International Resea r ch a n d Tr a i n in g In st i t ute for t h e Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), and merge
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their mandates and functions with those of the Division for the Advancement of Women and the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, to create the UNW. Mr. Ban said the UNW would be operational by January 1, 2011

For the first time in Russias modern history the military exercises involve warships of three fleets the Black Sea, Pacific and Northern Fleets. In another first, Sukhoi Su-24M frontline bombers and Su-34 multi-role fighters were redeployed from bases in the European part of Russia 8,000 km away in nonstop flights with two in-flight refuelling. It was also for the first time that mechanised infantry airlifted from the Urals Mountains used heavy weapons stored for them at reserve depots set up near the Chinese border. (Locate In Atlas)

First women President in Kyrgyz President sworn in


The first woman President in Central Asia was sworn in Kyrgyzstan after bloody ethnic violence in the countrys southern regions claimed hundreds of lives. Speaking at an inauguration ceremony in the capital Bishkek Ms. Rosa Otunbayeva (59), promised that thousands of people whose houses had been torched during last months riots will be provided with new housing before winter comes. Ms. Otunbayeva came to power during a popular revolt that overthrew President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in early April in what was a second violent change of government in the small Central Asian state in five years. Under the new Constitution overwhelmingly approved in a referendum, Ms. Otunbayeva will preside over a political reform that will transform Kyrgyzstan to a parliamentary republic. She will act as President for 18 months, and will not be able to run for office in new elections scheduled for the end of 2011. She faces the challenge of healing the wounds of the June 10-14 violence against ethnic Uzbeks. Ms. Otunbayeva, a former Foreign Minister and Ambassador to Britain and the United Nations, was one of the leaders of the Tulip Revolution that overthrew President Askar Akayev in 2005.

The British government announced controversial plans for a major shake-up of the countrys electoral system
The British government announced controversial plans for a major shake-up of the countrys electoral system that could see the traditional first-past-thepost elections replaced by proportional voting if people say yes to the proposed change in a referendum to be called next year. Other proposals include reducing the size of the House of Commons from 650 to 600, redrawing parliamentary constituencies to equalise their size, and a fixed five-year term taking away the traditional power of the Prime Minister to decide when to call a general election. The most contentious move is to switch from the current voting system to Alternative Voting (AV) which would require voters to rank candidates in order of preference. A candidate getting more than 50 per cent in the first round would be elected. If no one gets more than 50 per cent in the first round, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and voters second choices are allocated to those remaining. The process would continue until a winner emerges.

Komorowski wins Polish presidential election


Bronislaw Komorowski won Polands runoff presidential elections, the state election commission said Mr. Komorowski, of the centre-right Civic Platform party, gained 53.01 per cent of the vote, said the commission.

The military displayed their power in the largest war games ever staged in the Russian Far East
President Dmitry Medvedev called on the Russian armed forces to guarantee the countrys security in the Asia-Pacific region in the face of existing challenges as the military displayed their power in the largest war games ever staged in the Russian Far East. More than 20,000 troops, 70 combat planes and 30 warships are taking part in the Vostok-2010 war games underway in several regions bordering China and Mongolia from June 29 to July 8.

EU cuts GSP+ concessions for Sri Lanka


The European Union (EU) announced that Sri Lanka would temporarily lose its General Services Preferential (GSP) + tariff concessions, mainly to the apparel sector, from August 15 following the decision of the island nation to reject a conditional offer by the Union.
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CURRENT AFFAIRS FOR I.A.S. (PRE.) 2011

International Events The Chinese leadership reiterated its support to Pakistan on fighting terrorism. China has, in the past, called on Pakistan to do more to shut down training camps which Beijing has linked to terrorist groups in its western Xinjiang region, such as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). But in a show of unity, the two countries are holding a joint antiterror drill to coincide with Mr. Zardaris visit.

The EU had set July 1 as the deadline for Sri Lanka to accept 15 specific conditions to be fulfilled within a time-frame of six months. Colombo rejected the offer saying it amounted to interference in the internal affairs of the country and asserted it was not prepared to barter its sovereignty for the sake of EU concessions to the tune of $150 million.

Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus launch customs UN recalls Neil Buhne a top envoy to Sri Lanka union a first step towards broder economic The United Nations recalled Neil Buhne, its top envoy alliance to Sri Lanka, and closed down an office in Colombo
After years of discussions Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus have launched a customs union as a first step towards forming a broader EU-type economic alliance of former Soviet states. Meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan, the leaders of the three nations signed a declaration stating that the customs union comes into effect on July 6. The meeting was held on the sidelines of a summit of the Eurasian Economic Community (Eurasec). Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the three ex-Soviet states would now move on to a monetary union. (Locate In Atlas) following angry protests against a UN panel that was set up to probe allegations of war crimes during the countrys civil war.

Iran for investment protection pact with India


Iran has once again broached the possibility of signing a Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement (BIPA) with India, which could increase bilateral trade to $30 billions. The 16th India-Iran Joint Commission meeting, which began in NEW DELHI, also touched on beginning a trilateral dialogue with Afghanistan on trade routes. The issue of a BIPA and Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement have been on the table since the 14th Joint Commission meeting, with both sides agreeing that these pacts would encourage greater flow of capital and technology between the two countries and give greater confidence to investors. The trilateral dialogue with Afghanistan could give an impetus to plans to activate the Chabar port and build a link to the Zaranj-Delaram road, built by India in Afghanistan. This route would allow Indian goods to enter Afghanistan as well as transit to Central Asian countries.

Sarkozy and his labour minister is linked to LOreal scandal


French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his Labour Minister Eric Woerth, who doubles up as the ruling right-wing partys treasurer, are alleged to have received cash payments from Lilian Bettencourt, Europes wealthiest woman who owns the cosmetics giant LOreal. Mr. Sarkozys office denied the charges and Mr. Woerth declared he would not be forced out of office on trumped up charges.

China and Pakistan agreed to reaffirm ties during Zardari visit


China and Pakistan agreed to deepen cooperation on fighting terrorism and economic issues, but were silent on their controversial plans to expand nuclear engagement which have stirred debate. The China National Nuclear Corporation recently announced China would set up two power reactors in Pakistan, a move that some countries say goes against Chinas non-proliferation commitments as a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). China has already set up two power reactors in Chashma, under an agreement which predated its joining of the NSG in 2004.

China signs $525-million deal to help Pakistan build two highway projects in PoK
The Chinese government signed a $525-million deal to help Pakistan build two highways in the disputed Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) region. China has agreed to build a 165-km-long highway between Jaglot and Skardu, and a 135-km highway between Thakot and Sazin in the disputed GilgitBaltistan region near Pakistans border with China, according to a Memorandum of Understanding signed during the ongoing visit of President Asif Ali Zardari.
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The official Associated Press of Pakistan reported that the projects would cost Pakistan Rs.45 billion, or $525 million. China has agreed to bear 85 per cent of the cost. During Mr. Zardaris visit, the two countries have also agreed to accelerate plans to build a rail line from Chinas far western Xinjiang autonomous region to Havelian, also through the Gilgit-Baltistan region. The plans have been discussed for almost a decade, but have made little headway since 2004, when a prefeasibility study was conducted. (Locate In Atlas)

The explosions ripped through two bars packed with soccer fans watching the final moments of t h e Wor l d C u p fi n a l on t el e vi s i on i n a n Ethiopian-themed restaurant and at a gathering in a Kampala rugby club. The blasts came two days after a commander with the Somali group, Al-Shabab, called for militants to attack sites in Uganda and Burundi, two nations that contribute troops to the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia. Al-Shabab, whose ranks are swelled by militant veterans of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, h a s l on g t h r ea t en e d t o a t t a c k ou t si d e of Somalias borders, but the bombings are the first time the group has done so. (Locate In Atlas)

Sri Lankan Minister ends fast after president visited him


A Sri Lankan Cabinet Minister who was on a fast unto death outside the United Nations office ended his protest after President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited him. Housing Minister Wimal Weerawansa went on fast demanding scrapping of a three-member panel of experts appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Kimoon to advice him on alleged human rights violations during the war between Sri Lankan forces and the LTTE.

Sudanese President Bashir charged with genocide


The International Criminal Court has charged Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir with three counts of genocide in Darfur. An appeals panel at the worlds first permanent War Crimes Tribunal ruled that judges made an error in law when they refused last year to indict Mr. Bashir on international laws gravest charge. Court prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo accuses Mr. Bashir of keeping 2.5 million refugees from specific ethnic groups in Darfur in camps under genocide conditions, like a gigantic Auschwitz. (Locate In Atlas)

S. Africa holds education summit in Pretoria


Mr. Zuma inugrate the education summit in Pretoria.which was also attended by U.N. and international sporting officials. The summit is the culmination of 1GOAL, a campaign supported by footballs governing body FIFA to use t he at t en t ion t h e Wor ld Cup comm a nds t o publicise the need to get more children into school. An estimated 72 million children arent in school and millions more do not have access to quality education, according to 1GOAL. 1GOAL has brought in luminaries from sports, entertainment and politics to push the campaign Port uguese superstar Cri stiano Ron aldo, Colombian pop star Shakira, Hillary Clinton and others.

M i s s i n g I ra n i an n u c l e ar s ci e n t i s t rea p p ea rs i n Pa k i st a n i e m b a s s y i n Washington
An Iranian nuclear scientist who went missing while on Haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia in June 2009 has reappeared in the Iran Interests section of the Pakistani embassy in Washington. Shahram Amiris resurfacing is the latest twist in a Machiavellian saga at the heart of one of the most complex and potentially explosive areas of international politics the Iran-United States nuclear controversy.

Uganda twin blasts kill 74 while people watching The world cup final
An Al-Qaeda-l inked Somal i m ilit ant group claimed responsibility for twin bombings in Uganda that killed 74 people watching the World Cup final on TV, saying the militants would carry out attacks against our enemy wherever they are.

Findings of Bhutto commission final said BankiMoon


Rejecting Pakistans appeal to reopen the U.N. probe into the assassination of the former Premier, Benazir Bhutto, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said the work of the commission is complete.
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CURRENT AFFAIRS FOR I.A.S. (PRE.) 2011

International Events a mission by the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a Moscow-led military bloc of former Soviet states. OSCE will also work out a package plan aimed at promoting the peace process in Kyrgyzstan.

Benazir Bhutto was killed on December 27, 2007 when a suicide bomber exploded himself close to her car in Rawalpindi while she was campaigning for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in parliamentary and provincial elections.

The inquiry of commission which was set up in 2009 to ascertain the facts and circumstances of Bhuttos Kosovos independence from serbia is legal, death, concluded that the assassination could have rules ICJ been prevented. Kosovos unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia in February 2008 did not violate international The three-member fact finding commission, which was law, said the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in a headed by Chiles former U.N. ambassador Heraldo groundbreaking ruling that could have far-reaching Munoz, presented its report on April 15. implications for separatist movements around the Germany, China ink deals on trade world, as well as for Belgrades stalled EU membership talks. German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged China to ease access to its markets, as the worlds top two exporting nations signed a series of deals reportedly worth several billion dollars. Trade between the export powerhouses has grown rapidly to $91 billion last year, up from $41 billion in 2001, according to Chinese data. However, in the past few years, the trade balance has tipped decisively in Chinas favour, with Chinese exports to Germany totalling $55 billion last year, while trade in the other direction amounted to $36 billion. China overtook Germany last year to become the worlds top exporter, with some $1.2 trillion in merchandise exported, according to World Trade Organisation figures. Germany exported $1.12 trillion of goods in 2009. Chinas foreign exchange reserves, the worlds largest, hit a record $2.454 trillion at the end of June. The long-awaited ruling which the court took up after a complaint to the U.N. from Serbia is now likely to lead to more countries recognising Kosovos independence and move Pristina closer to entry into the U.N. Kosovos statehood is backed by 69 countries but it requires over 100 before it can join the U.N. Though both Belgrade and Pristina had said they were confident of a ruling in their favour, speculation began to emerge a few hours before announcement in the Hague that the decision which is not legally binding had gone Kosovos way. Serbia has continued to demand Kosovo be returned, arguing it has been the cradle of their civilisation and national identity since 1389, when a Christian army led by Serbian Prince Lazar lost an epic battle to invading Ottoman forces. The ruling is expected to have profound ramifications on the wider international stage, bolstering demands for recognition by territories as diverse as Northern Cyprus, Somaliland, Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Transnistria. Kosovo sparked sharp debate worldwide when it seceded from Serbia in 2008, following the bloody 1998-99 war and almost a decade of international administration. The 1998-99 war, triggered by a brutal crackdown by Serb forces against Kosovos separatist ethnic Albanians, left about 10,000 ethnic Albanians dead before ending after a 78-day NATO bombing campaign. Hundreds of Serbs were also killed in retaliatory attacks. (Locate In Atlas)

OSCE police force for Kyrgyzstan


The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will send a 52-strong police force to Kyrgyzstan to help restore order in the countrys southern regions rocked by bloody ethnic clashes last month. The decision to deploy a Police Advisory Group was unanimously adopted at an informal meeting of OSCE Foreign Ministers in Almaty, Kazakhstan, which is holding rotating presidency in the 56-member organisation.

The largely symbolic international police group will be mainly concerned with monitoring the situation Chinas three Gorges Dam faces a tough test and advising the Kyrgyz police, officials said. Seven years ago, the massive Three Gorges Dam was Russia turned down calls from the new Kyrgyz leaders hailed by Chinas official media as being able to to send peacekeeping troops unilaterally or as part of withstand a once in 10,000 year flood.
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The water-level of the Three Gorges Dam reached its peak for this year, to 13.86 metres above its reservoirs water-releasing level. The water-level has now risen to 158.86 metres, only 16.17 metres short of its maximum capacity. The dams construction, which as of 2008 had cost $26.5 billion and displaced more than one million people, has been justified by the government as an essential solution to the Yangtze rivers recurring flooding problems.

by one of Russias oldest biking groups The Night Wolves. The location was not without political significance after Mr. Yanukovychs shock decision to extend the lease of the Black Sea fleet in Crimea by another quarter century rapidly warmed Moscow-Kiev ties. Mr. Putin, who earlier hailed the new atmosphere created in ties by Mr. Yanukovych, then went into talks with the Ukrainian leader at the presidential dacha in the Crimean resort of Foros.

New round of diplomacy on Iran

ASEAN has decided to expand the East Asia Brazils Foreign Minister Celso Amorim is visiting Summit (EAS) to include the United States and Turkey as part of a renewed international diplomatic Russia
effort to resolve the crisis surrounding Irans nuclear programme. Iran had earlier unsuccessfully proposed inclusion of Turkey and Brazil in new negotiations with the six global powers. In May, negotiations among Iran, Brazil and Turkey had resulted in the Tehran Declaration. Under this agreement, Iran would need to export to Turkey the bulk of its domestically produced lightly enriched uranium. In return, it would receive medium enriched uranium needed for its Tehran research reactor engaged in producing isotopes required to treat cancer. The global powers led by the U.S. had then rejected the deal and, instead, pushed for a new round of sanctions, opposed by Ankara and Brasilia, against Iran. Analysts say the Tehran declaration signed by Iran, Turkey and Brazil is an elaboration of the proposals made in October 2009 by the Vienna group comprising the United States, Russia and France during its meeting with Iran in the Austrian capital. The dialogue between Iran and the Vienna group has not been abandoned. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has decided to expand the East Asia Summit (EAS) to include the United States and Russia. India is an EAS member. The 16-nation EAS, a leaders-driven forum, now consists of all 10 ASEAN members and six of their dialogue partners Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. ASEAN has also agreed to establish connectivity its shorthand for land, sea, air, electronic, and energy links with neighbours such as China and India. These decisions were announced by Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo on the sidelines of the ongoing ASEAN-led ministerial meetings in Hanoi. Singapore is one of ASEANs founding-members, and India is among the participating dialogue partners. Asked whether the U.S. and Russia would be invited to join the planned free trade area among the 16 EAS countries, Mr. Yeo said: We have got to discuss. Russia is not a member of the World Trade Organisation, and the U.S. may not have an interest in a free trade agreement which involves ASEAN, China, Japan, Korea, and India. (Locate In Atlas)

Venezuela-Colombia spat intensifies


What started out as a war of words between President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and President lvaro Uribe of Colombia, even as far back as 2007, has now become an open diplomatic conflict in a multilateral forum and threatens to escalate into something worse. The most recent round of hostilities was sparked at a meeting of the Organisation of American States in Washington, when Colombian Ambassador Luis Hoyos, produced what he alleged was documentary evidence that Venezuela was housing camps of the
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Russian Premier Mr. Putin a biking roars into rally


The Russian Prime Minister is on a one-day trip to the south of Ukraine for talks with President Viktor Yanukovych. The rally outside the Crimean port of Sevastopol the base of Russias Black Sea Fleet was organised

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CURRENT AFFAIRS FOR I.A.S. (PRE.) 2011

International Events Eav (67), also known as Duch, for his role in the mass execution of the enemies of Khmer Rouge at S-21, a security centre which was used as a prison and a killing field between 1975 and 1979. In the court proceedings in Phnom Penh, witnessed by nearly 30,000 people from the public gallery, the Trial Chamber, by a majority, convicted Duch of a range of crimes against humanity such as persecution on political grounds, torture, and extermination. Yet, taking into account the illegal detention that Duch underwent at the hands of the Cambodian military court between 1999 and 2007, the Trial Chamber reduced the pronounced sentence to 30 years of imprisonment. (Locate In Atlas)

rebel group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on its soil. In an immediate response, President Chvez severed ties with Colombia describing the Colombian accusations as a United States-inspired aggression. (Locate In Atlas)

Sudanese President Bashir not to attend AU summit


Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on a war-crimes warrant, wont attend an African Union (AU) summit due to get under way in Uganda. Heads of State and government from 43 of the AUs 53 member-states have confirmed that they will attend the summit in the Ugandan capital Kampala, where the problems facing the African continent have already been discussed for several days at ministerial level.

Dutch troops ended their mission in Afghanistan


Dutch troops ended their mission in Afghanistan after four proud years, in a departure experts say signals the beginning of a drawdown of foreign forces that will leave a worrying void. The pull-out is the first significant drawdown of troops from the Afghan war, now in its ninth year, and comes as Taliban-led violence worsens and U.S. forces suffered their worst month for casualties. The Netherlands deployment began in 2006 and has cost the lives of 24 soldiers. NATOs request for an extension of the mission sparked a political row that led to the Dutch governments collapse in February, and the announced drawdown. NATO and the United States have close to 150,000 troops in the country, but a mounting death toll for foreign troops has piled political pressure on the U.S. and its allies as voters grow increasingly weary of the blood price of the war. The death toll for U.S. soldiers in July was an all-time high of 66.

BP to start drilling off The Libya Coast


BP will start drilling off the Libyan coast it has said, despite lingering questions over the deal which led to the exploration and the oil firms role in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The future of deep-sea drilling has come under scrutiny following an explosion in April on the BPleased Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which killed 11 workers. It sank, causing a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst environmental disaster in United States history, sparking a furious reaction against BP in the U.S. (Locate In Atlas)

Thousands hit as Iowa dam ruptures


Heavy rain ruptured the Lake Delhi dam, sending a torrent into the Maquoketa River below and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of homes and vacation cabins in eastern Iowa. (Locate In Atlas)

Cluster bomb treaty takes effect


A landmark international treaty to ban cluster munitions took effect , requiring signatories to stop the use, production and transfer of the deadly weapons. The Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force six months after more than 30 countries ratified the 2008 treaty signed by 107 nations. China, Russia, the United States and Israel are among those that have rejected the deal, which obliges those that have ratified to destroy stockpiles.
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35-year jail term for Cambodias Khmer Rouge official


In the first judicial verdict on the genocide committed by Cambodias Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, a former official of the regime was pronounced guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to 35 years of imprisonment. The Trial Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) convicted Kaing Guek

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China holds major air exercises in the countrys eastern coast


Chinas military launched a major air defence exercise along the countrys eastern coast bordering the Yellow Sea, in the wake of heightened tensions over Chinas territorial claims in the region. Chinas air defence force would conduct a five-day military exercise in north-eastern Henan and Shandong provinces, which lie across the Yellow Sea from the Korean Peninsula. Named Vanguard-2010, it would be carried out in the two provinces as part of annual exercise aimed at improving communication between different military regions. Tensions over the long-running territorial dispute over the South China Sea, between China and several South-east Asian countries, have surfaced in recent weeks. At the ASEAN Regional Forum in Hanoi U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said a resolution of the dispute without coercion was in the national interest of the U.S., a remark seen in China as U.S. interference into its territorial affairs. Chinas territorial claims on the whole of the strategically-significant South China Sea, through which several important shipping routes pass, are disputed by several countries, including Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines. (Locate In Atlas)

democracies coming together, whereas BRIC is a conception devised by Goldman Sachs; we are now trying to give it some shape.

Russia accused U.S. violations of START-1


Russia has accused the United States of gross violations of a number of arms-control and nonproliferation agreements in an apparent tit-a-tat for U.S. charges of Russia breaching the 1991 START-1 nuclear-arms treaty. Moscow said Washington had breached its duties under START-1 when it converted some nuclear missile launchers into interceptor missile launchers; retrofitted B1 heavy nuclear-capable bombers to carry conventional weapons; and refused to provide telemetric data on Trident-2 submarine missile launches by claiming the missiles belonged to Britain. In glaring violation of the Missile Technology Control Regime, said the Russian report, the U.S. has been supplying missile technologies to Israel, Taiwan and some Arab countries. Among other things, the U.S. helped Israel build the Shavit three-stage solid fuel missile and has been developing jointly with Israel the Arrow-2 missile interceptor. The U.S. also breached the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which banned missiles with ranges of between 500 and 5,500 km, the U.S. continued to build medium-range ballistic missile targets for missile-defence tests. The Russian Foreign Ministry said the U.S. violated the Biological Weapons Convention by developing new germ agents and refusing to provide information on a network of its military bio-centres in Indonesia, Thailand, Peru, Egypt and other countries. The U.S. authorities failed to prevent 1,500 leaks of radioactive materials and nuclear weapons-related information, including one case in 2006 when confidential data from Los Alamos National Laboratory landed in the hands of a drug dealing criminal group.

Russia wants South Africa in BRIC


Russian President Dmitry Medvedev voiced support for South Africas bid to join the BRIC group, which unites Brazil, Russia, India and China. We are aware that participation of the Republic of South Africa in the discussion of various issues that are on the BRIC agenda would be extremely productive, given the fact that BRIC is a new group of fast growing economies and the RSA belongs to this category, said Mr. Medvedev at apress conference with South African President Jacob Zuma. The induction of South Africa into BRIC would effectively amount to a merger between BRIC and IBSA. China is believed to support the idea, while India is opposed. During the two groups April summits in Brazil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh underlined that IBSA has a character of its own three large

China hits out at U.S. double standards in The nuclear deal with vietnam
Chinese strategic analysts have hit out at the United States move to discuss a nuclear deal with Vietnam, which would reportedly involve sharing of nuclear fuel and technology and backing Vietnams right to enrich its own fuel. In theory, there is no abnormality for an NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] member-country to make
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International Events The announcement came days after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited Abkhazia to pledge allround support for the country. Russia recognised Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states two years ago in the wake of a five-day war it waged to repulse Georgias armed attack on South Ossetia.

peaceful use of nuclear energy; what matters is the enrichment of the spent fuel, China said. Yet, if another ASEAN country, Myanmar, does the same, there would be accusations and pressure. This is called double standards. The U.S. is reportedly in advanced discussions with Vietnam on a deal that would facilitate the sharing of nuclear fuel and technologies, as well as preserve Hanois right to enrich its own fuel. Like the U.S.-India civilian nuclear deal, this deal, too, has been perceived in China as part of a greater American containment strategy. [The deal] means the U.S. is strengthening cooperation with Vietnam to contain China.

Zimbabwe sold 900000 carats of blood diamonds


Zimbabwe sold 900, 000 carats of diamonds from Chiadzwa worth $72 million, the first such sale since the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme approved its gems last month. The buyers came from India, Lebanon, the United States, Israel and Russia, the State media reported. The KP granted Zimbabwe the right to export part of its gems from Chiadzwa at the World Diamond Council meeting in Russia last month, and auction only covered diamonds produced between May 28, 2010 and September this year.

Russia pledges all-round assistance to Abkhazia


Russian President Dmitry Medvedev reasserted Moscows strong hold on Georgias breakaway territories, visiting Abkhazia on the second anniversary of the Russia-Georgia war and pledging all-round assistance to strengthen the regions independence from Georgia. We will develop good-neighbourly relations with Abkhazia in the political, economic and security spheres, Mr. Medvedev said during his first visit to Abkhazia since Russia recognised the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia after foiling Georgias August 8, 2008 armed attempt to win back control of the separatist regions. Mr. Medvedev said Russias decision to recognise the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia was painful but proved to be the right decision over time that averted a protracted bloody conflict. The Russian leaders trip to Abkhazia was a highprofile demonstration of Moscows defiance of Western demands for undoing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. During her visit to Georgia last month U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Russia of invasion and occupation of Georgian territories two years ago and demanded Russian withdrawal from the region. (Locate In Atlas)

Obama has signed into law a border security Bill


President Barack Obama has signed into law a border security Bill that stoked controversy when the United States Congress said it would be financed by a $2,000 visa fee hike for Infosys, Wipro and other Indian IT firms with operations in the U.S. In a statement following the signing of the Southwest Border Security Bill, Mr. Obama said: The resources made available through this legislation will build upon our successful efforts to protect communities along the southwest border and across the country. And this new law will also strengthen our partnership with Mexico in targeting the gangs and criminal organisations that operate on both sides of our shared border.

Phase 1 of Hambantota port opened by Rajapaksa


Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa dedicated to the nation the first phase of the $1.5-billion Hambantota port being constructed with Chinese help. The port, which will begin handling ships from November, is one of the four ports being built or upgraded under Mr. Rajapaksas plan to boost the economy. Located on the southern tip of the country, the harbour, in the first phase, will handle 2,500 ships annually.
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Russia has deployed S-300 air defence missiles in Abkhazia


Russia has deployed S-300 air defence missiles in Abkhazia, Georgias former breakaway region, said a top military official.

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Through the port and other infrastructure projects, the governments goal is to make Sri Lanka a marine, aviation, commerce, energy and knowledge centre. The new port is meant to challenge Singapores status as a regional shipping hub. Sri Lanka handles around 6,000 ships annually at its only port in Colombo on the western coast, which requires ships plying the eastwest shipping lane to divert course. In addition to cargo handling, Hambantota will have bunkering facility and a tank farm project. The port will operate 14 tanks with a capacity of 80,000 metric tonnes. Eight tanks will be utilised for bunkering while six will be used for aviation fuel and LPG. China extended a loan of $425 million for the first phase, including the bunkering facility, and Colombo is negotiating for a further $800 million loan for the second phase.

U.S. to host West Asia peace talks between Israel and Palestine
The United States announced that it would be hosting talks between the leaders of Palestine and Israel in Washington in September. Prospects for peace ground to a halt in March 20100 year when, even as Vice-President Joe Biden was in the region to facilitate direct talks, Israels Interior Ministry announced that permission had been granted for 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem. At the time a war of words ensued between Israel and the U.S., with Mr. Biden saying, I condemn the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem.

Iran test fires surface-to-surface missile Fateh 110


Iran has test fired its homebuilt surfaceto surface Fateh 110 missile, state television reported, less than a week after a similar test was carried out on another missile. The test firing of Fateh 110 comes two days after Iran began massproducing two highspeed variants of missilelaunching assault boats, the Seraj and Zolfaqar.

A quadri partite Sochi summit begins


Russias President Dmitry Medvedev host a second quadripartite summit with the leaders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan to discuss security, terrorism, drugs and economic cooperation in the region. At a one-day meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, the Presidents discuss the domestic situation in Afghanistan, the problem of drug trafficking and the struggle against terrorism, said Mr. Medvedevs foreign policy aide, Sergei Prikhodko. Analysts said hydropower energy and transport infrastructure would be the foundation of four-corner economic cooperation. Under the Central Asia-South Asian-1000 (CASA-1000) plan sponsored by the World Bank, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan will supply surplus electricity to Afghanistan and Pakistan. There is also a plan to build a motorway and a railroad from Pakistan to Tajikistan. At the first quadripartite summit in Tajikistan last year Mr. Medvedev said a new format of regional cooperation was being borne. (Locate In Atlas)

AHRC call to rehabilitate Hindus in Pakistan


The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) issued an urgent appeal to the Pakistani leadership to rehabilitate a Hindu community, settled in the Mirpur Khas district of Sindh, in its original settlement from where it was forced to flee on false charges under the dreaded blasphemy law.

Russia has opened a shortcut northern sea route from Europe to Asia across the Arctic
Russia has opened a shortcut northern sea route from Europe to Asia across the Arctic, reasserting itself as the dominant power in the strategic mineral-rich region. A Russian tanker, escorted by powerful nuclear icebreakers, successfully skirted the icebound Arctic coastline of Russia with a load of gas condensate for China. The Arctic Sea route is almost twice faster than the Suez Canal route and about 15 per cent cheaper. The northern route from the Russian port of Murmansk to Shanghai is 10,600 km long, while the Suez Canal one is 17,700 km. Shippers will save a million dollars per tanker in fuel costs alone.
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4-nation pact to fight terrorism


Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan agreed to step up joint fight against terrorism and narcotics at a quadripartite summit. The four countries will intensify joint efforts in combating terrorism and narcotics in the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters after the summit.

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International Events signature formally marks the end of a decades-long struggle to cut down the massive powers of the presidency. The government and Parliament now must implement the ambitious document, a process expected to take up to five years. The document requires, among other things, the formation of a Supreme Court and a Senate. It also demands that the judiciary be vetted to rid it of corrupt or incompetent judges and that Parliament pass 49 new laws. The Constitution alters the governance structure by introducing 47 counties. The Senate will be composed of 47 members each elected from the counties, 16 women nominated by political parties, two members of different gender to represent the youth and two members of different gender to represent persons with disability. The country will still be ruled by an executive President, but he will be constrained by checks and balances and the Senate will vet key appointments made by the President. The President and Senate will have fixed terms, with elections every five years.

Two icebreakers cleared the way for the Baltica through 4,000 km of icy seas before reaching the Russian port of Pevek in the Chukotsky Sea, from where the tanker will continue its journey to China on its own. (Locate In Atlas)

High Court of Bangladesh declared Ershads regime illegal


In a landmark verdict, the High Court of Bangladesh declared illegal the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution that legalised the autocratic regime of General Hussein Muhammad Ershad. The appellate division of the countrys Supreme Court had in February declared illegal the Fifth Amendment, which legalised the regime of General Ziaur Rahman. The court observed that General Ershad, who ruled Bangladesh for nearly nine years, had made the countrys Constitution subordinate to the martial law, which is illegal and unconstitutional. It also observed the government would decide the fate of General Ershad, whose Jatiya Party is an ally of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasinas ruling grand alliance. While the Fifth Amendment ratified all changes made to the Constitution and all government activities between August 15, 1975 and April 9, 1979, giving legitimacy to three regimes including that of General Ziaur Rahman, the Seventh Amendment ratified the proclamation of martial law and other orders by General Ershad between March 24, 1982, and November 10, 1986. General Ershad, the then Chief of Army Staff, declared himself the Chief Martial Law Administrator and imposed martial law on March 24, 1982

Putin formally opened the Russian section of an oil pipeline to China


Russias Prime Minister Vladimir Putin formally opened the Russian section of an oil pipeline to China, hailing it as an important step in diversifying energy exports away from Europe. The new pipeline is a 64-km spur from the strategic 4,800km Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline, whose first 2,700-km section Mr. Putin inaugurated in December. The ESPO pipeline will initially carry 30 million tonnes of crude a year, half of which will go to China. Russia plans to eventually increase the pipelines capacity to 50 million tonnes a year. Under a deal signed last year China gave Russia a $25billion loan, including $10 billion for the construction of the East Siberia pipeline, and Russia agreed to pump 300 million tonnes of crude to China through 2030. (Locate In Atlas)

Kenyas President signed a new Constitution into law


Kenyas President signed a new Constitution into law that institutes a U.S.-style system of checks and balances and has been hailed as the most significant political event since Kenyas independence nearly a half century ago. Kenyas new Constitution is part of a reform package that leaders there committed themselves to after signing a power-sharing deal in February 2008. That deal ended violence that killed more than 1,000 people following Kenyas disputed December 2007 presidential vote. Event comes after an overwhelming majority of Kenyan voters adopted the new Constitution in an August 4 referendum. President Mwai Kibakis

Russia building space centre in the Russian Eastern region


Russias Prime Minister Vladimir Putin flagged off the construction of a new space centre in the Russian Far East describing it as the countrys most ambitious project.
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The new cosmodrome is to become operational in 2016 and by 2020 it will host all Russian manned space missions. The government has allocated 24.5 billion roubles ($800 million) for the first stage of the project.Russia currently launches its manned spacecraft and commercial missions from the Soviet-era Baikonur space centre, which it has leased from Kazakhstan for $115 million a year till 2050. Military satellites are launched from the small space centre in Plisetsk in northern Russia. Russia will continue to use Baikonur as demand for space launches kept growing, Mr. Putin said, but it was strategically important to have independent access to space. (Locate In Atlas)

A suicide bomber blew up a car packed with about 40 kg of explosives and a gas cylinder near the Central Market in Vladikavkaz, capital of North Ossetia.

Kevin Rudd will be the new Foreign Affair Minister


The former Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, gets the Foreign Affairs portfolio in Julia Gillards new minority government. Mr. Rudd ceased to be Prime Minister when Ms. Gillard toppled him in a political coup within the ruling Australian Labour Party several weeks before seeking a mandate for herself in a snap general election on August 21. The election produced the countrys first hung Parliament in nearly seven decades. But she secured the support of three Independents and a Greens member through negotiations and clinched by September 7 two seats more than the opposition in the 150-member House of Representatives.

Colombian Constitutional court suspended defence pact with U.S.


The crisis for American military interests in the region was precipitated when Colombias Constitutional Court suspended an agreement that provided U.S. troops with greater access to Colombian bases. The Court said it was suspending such access on the grounds that the agreement had not yet won Congressional approval. The agreement, aimed at boosting anti-drug and counter-insurgency operations, was signed last October and permitted U.S. forces to use seven bases within Colombian territory. The defence agreement had sailed through relatively smoothly under the former President, Alvaro Uribe, who did not deem Congressional approval necessary . Numerous groups, including neighbours Ecuador and Venezuela, criticised the accord for granting the U.S. military immunity from criminal prosecution within Colombian jurisdiction. While Mr. Uribe was one of the U.S. staunchest allies in a continent increasingly hostile to American regional dominance, Mr. Santos, is less so, according to observers. After being sworn in earlier this month, Mr. San tos was quick to mend fences with Venezuelan President Hugo Chvez, who had severed ties with Colombia in July after a border dispute.

Japan, China tensions over ship collision near Southern islets


Japan freed 14 crewmembers of a Chinese fishing ship nearly a week after their vessel and two Japanese patrol boats collided near disputed southern islets. But China lashed out at Tokyos decision to keep the captain in custody. The dispute has sparked anti-Japanese activists in China and Taiwan, which also claims the islands in question, to sail to the area on their own protest missions though both governments have sought to rein them in so as not to inflame tensions further. The incident has provoked a strident response from Beijing, which said it was postponing talks scheduled earlier with Japan on contested undersea deposits in the East China Sea. (Locate In Atlas)

Turkish voters have backed a package to reform the Constitution


Turkish voters have backed a package to reform the Constitution, which so far has favoured the military, the self-proclaimed guardian of Turkish secularism. The results of a referendum held showed that 58 per cent of the voters approved the constitutional reform package mooted by the Justice and Development Party (AKP), led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The amendments include 26 articles, which aim to curtail
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Suicide blast kills 16 in Russias North Caucasus region


At least 16 people died and over a hundred were wounded in a car bomb attack in Russias violencetorn North Caucasus region.

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CURRENT AFFAIRS FOR I.A.S. (PRE.) 2011

International Events

the powers of the military by making the armed forces more accountable to civil courts. Besides, it lifts the immunity over the plotters of the 1980 military coup, following which Turkeys current Constitution was drafted. The approval of the package will also open the door for key judicial reforms, including the restructuring of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors.

Gas pipeline agreement to be signed in Ashkhabad


The Gas Pipeline Framework Agreement (GPFA) for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline will be signed in Ashkhabad according to a release put out by the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources.

Pact on UNMIN
The Nepal government and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) arrived at a four-point agreement, including on the future of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN). Both sides have agreed to request the Security Council to extend UNMINs term for the final time for a period of four months, under the same mandate.

U.S. census report shows spike in poverty at annual U.N. Summit


The United States Census Bureau (USCB) has revealed that poverty in the country jumped significantly in 2009, reflecting the debilitating effects of the recession on those at the bottom of the economic ladder. In news that would add to the worries of President Barack Obama, who is struggling to get various stimulus bills passed by Congress, the Bureau said the official poverty rate in 2009 was 14.3 per cent up from 13.2 per cent in 2008.

Enable own-language use: Sri Lankan panel


The Sri Lankan Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) has suggested to President Mahinda Rajapaksa interim measures to better the lot of resettled Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and people living in former conflict areas. Measures suggested by t he ei ght -member Commission include enabling people to use their own language in official dealings, especially making statements to the police.

Google, UN-Habitat join hands for access to water, sanitation


If the direr predictions are to be believed, it may soon be a case of Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink, as the effects of global warming and water use patterns combine to make access to good drinking water an issue, especially in developing countries. As another of the many measures initiated to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of ensuring environmental sustainability through access to drinking water and sanitation, UN-Habitat and Google.org launched the h2.0 initiative (http:// www.h20initiative.org) at the recently concluded World Water Week in Stockholm.

ASI makes swift progress at Ta Prohmtemple


The Archaeological Survey of Indias Rs. 17-crore project on conservation of the Ta Prohm complex, third most visited site after Angkor Wat and the Bayon temple in the Angkor region, has made brisk and visible progress since the work began in 2006. This has set to rest fears and some criticism in international quarters about the ASIs technical capabilities and aesthetic vision. On her visit to Cambodia, President Pratibha Patil repeatedly highlighted Indias mission to restore Ta Prohm. (Locate In Atlas)

U.N. meets focus on poverty


The worlds conflicts, crises and diplomatic dramas from stumbling efforts to cut poverty to Irans nuclear drive and Pakistans flood disaster will be debated and disputed by global leaders at the annual U.N. summit. Presidents Barack Obama of the United States and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and Chinas Premier Wen Jiabao will be among about 140 Heads of State a n d Gover n m ent a t ten di n g a Mil l en ni um Development Goals (MDG) summit and then the U.N. General Assembly.
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Court martial recommends 3-year jail for Fonseka The former Army Chief
A court martial in Sri Lanka held the former Army Chief, Sarath Fonseka, guilty on all four counts in a case related to procurement of arms in violation of the tender procedures. It reportedly recommended that he be jailed for three years.

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Spain protests Gibraltar action in San Roque


Spains Foreign Ministry says Gibraltar police has been involved in an unauthorised cross-border action in the southern Spanish town of San Roque. Newspaper reports in Spain said two officers had entered a property in San Roque and seized objects related to a robbery in Gibraltar The government of Gibraltar said in a statement that it apologised to Spain for the regrettable and incorrect action of two police agents. Spain ceded sovereignty of Gibraltar to Britain in 1713 but has persistently sought the tiny southern territorys return. (Locate In Atlas)

threatened to resume sales of advanced weapons to Georgia, which fought a bitter armed conflict with Russia two years ago. Russia plans to supply Syria with at least two mobile coastal defence systems, called Bastion, armed with 36 Yakhont missiles each in a deal valued at $300 million, a source in Russias arms industry said. Yakhont is the Russian prototype of the BrahMos missile jointly built by India and Russia.

Hung House in Sweden


Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt pleaded for calm after being re-elected at the head of a minority government. Mr. Reinfeldts four-party centre-right coalition fell three seats short of a majority in the Riksdag, where the far-right, anti-immigration Sweden Democrats were set to hold the balance of power with 20 members of Parliament.

China suspends contacts with Japan over the detention of a Chinese caption
China has suspended senior bilateral contact with Japan over the detention of a Chinese captain accused of ramming his boat against Japanese patrol vessels in disputed waters, said state media. China has already suspended bilateral exchanges at and above the provincial or ministerial levels, the official Xinhua news agency quoted the Foreign Ministry as saying, without giving more details on the nature of the exchanges.

Bomb blast at Iranian military parade kills 10


A bomb blast during a military parade has killed at least 10 people and injured 57 in the Iranian city of Mahabad in West Azerbaijan province

Russia has banned all sales of anti-aircraft missile to Iran


Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has banned all sales of S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems to Iran. Russia signed a 2007 contract to sell the sophisticated systems that could boost Irans ability to defend against air strikes. Israel and the United States have objected to the deal, and no such missiles have been delivered yet. The S-300 is capable of shooting down aircraft and missiles at ranges of over 144 km and at altitudes of about 27,432 metres

Disputed islands: The incident took place near the disputed Diaoyu islands called Senkaku in Japan and also claimed by Taiwan which lie in an area with rich fishing grounds that is also believed to contain oil and gas deposits.

Worst row: It has sparked the worst diplomatic row in years between Beijing and Tokyo, with China already summoning Japans Ambassador five times and scrapping scheduled talks over joint energy exploration in the East China Sea. Japan suspects Mr. Zhan deliberately rammed its patrol boats, and has held him citing domestic law, though it has released his crew and boat. (Locate In Atlas)

First time women in majority in Swiss Cabinet


Switzerlands Parliament gave women a majority of Cabinet posts for the first time in the history of one of Europes most conservative countries, in a vote hailed as a triumph for women. Switzerland was the last European democracy to grant women the vote at national level in 1971 and the first woman Minister was only elected in 1984. Three of the seven Ministerial posts in the current government, or Federal Council, were occupied by women
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Russia-Syria on Supersonic anti-ship missile deal raises Israels hackles


A major row has broken out between Russia and Israel over Russian plans to sell supersonic anti-ship missiles to Syria. Following Moscows announcement of a forthcoming supply of Yakhont cruise missiles to Syria, Israeli officials

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CURRENT AFFAIRS FOR I.A.S. (PRE.) 2011

International Events tonnes of oil through pipelines from 2011 until 2030. (Locate In Atlas)

Israels flotilla raid unlawful: U.N. Panel of human rights


A United Nations panel of human rights experts has condemned Israel for the wilful killing, unnecessary brutality and torture in its clearly unlawful assault on a ship attempting to break the blockade of Gaza in May in which nine Turkish activists died. The report by three experts appointed by the U.N.s Human Rights Council (UNHRC) described the seizure of MV Mavi Marmara, a Turkish vessel, by Israeli commandos as illegal under international law.

Pakistan to chair IAEA Board for third time


Pakistan was elected Chairman of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for the third time. It held this office in 1962-63 and 1986-87. Chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission Ansar Parvez was elected unanimously for the post for 2011-12. Pakistans candidature was endorsed by the West Asia and South Asia Group.

Japan to free Chinese captain


Japanese authorities have said they would free the detained captain of a Chinese fishing vessel, who has been at the centre of a major diplomatic spat between the two countries, Japanese media reported Japanese authorities had accused Mr. Zhan of ramming his fishing trawler against two Japanese patrol vessels near disputed territory between the neighbours in the East China Sea, known as the Diaoyu Islands in China or the Senkaku islands in Japan.

Kim Jong Il makes youngest son a four star General


North Koreas Kim Jong Il made his youngest son a four-star General in a major promotion seen as confirmation that he is slated to become the next leader. The announcement was published in state media hours before a historic Workers Party meeting where Mr. Kim (68) and apparently in deteriorating health, was expected to grant son Kim Jong Un and other family members top posts in plans to t a k e t h e Com m un i st d yn a s t y i n t o a t h i r d generation.

Will bring scientist back: Pakistan


Amid country-wide protests over a U.S. courts decision to sentence Pakistani neuro-scientist Aafia Siddiqui to 86 years in prison for shooting at American soldiers in Afghanistan, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said Pakistan would leave no stone unturned to bring her back.

NATO vehicles attacked in Pakistan


Oil tankers and vehicles carrying supplies over land through Pakistan for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation-led International Security Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan came under attack in Karachi and near Chaman in Balochistan. These attacks come at a time when Pakistans relations with NATO are particularly strained over repeated violation of the airspace by ISAF aircraft. The Foreign Office asked its Ambassador in Brussels to lodge a strong protest at the NATO Headquarters over the missile strike at a Frontier Corps outpost in Kurram Agency by two ISAF helicopters. Since NATO supplies have come under attack in Pakistan in the past mostly in KhyberPukhtoonkhwa and once on the outskirts of the federal capital the attacks in Karachi and Chaman could be coincidental. But, coupled with the blockade at the Torkham border post, these attacks have disrupted NATO supply
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Russia, China sign energy deal


Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a series of political and commercial deals on his second state visit to China, a sign of closer strategic ties between the two world powers. Mr. Medvedev hel d t al ks wit h h is Ch inese counterpart, Hu Jintao.

Gas pipeline: They celebrated the completion of a long-awaited China-Russia oil pipeline, the largest bilateral project. The 999-km pipeline runs from Angarsk in Russia to Daqing in northeast China. It is part of a bilateral loan-for-oil deal reached in 2009. Under it, China makes a $25-billion long-term loan to Russia while Russia supplies China with 300 million

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routes. NATO vehicles have not been allowed to cross over into Afghanistan at the Torkham border post in Khyber Agency. Since a bulk of NATO supplies excepting weapons are shipped to Karachi and then ferried over land through Pakistan to Afghanistan, disruption of the facilitating environment is seen as a non-offensive but sure way of conveying Islamabads displeasure at violation of its territorial integrity.

week after archival research by Professor Susan Reverby of Wellesley College revealed vulnerable Guatemalans were clandestinely infected with sexuallytransmitted diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhoea, and chancroid.

A boost for Yanukovych in Ukraine


Ukraines apex court has voided changes to the Constitution adopted during the pro-Western orange revolution six years ago in a move that strengthens the power of the Moscow-friendly President, Viktor Yanukovych. Th e Con sti tutiona l Cour t inval ida ted t he controversial political reform of 2004 that deprived the President of the right to appoint the Prime Minister and the Cabinet and passed this authority to Parliament. The reform prompted a paralysing tugof-war between the orange revolution leaders President Victor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko, which eventually led to the defeat of both in the presidential election in February. The Court ruling restores in Ukraine a presidential system similar to that in Russia and many other former Soviet republics. Since taking office, Mr. Yanukovych has re-oriented Ukraines foreign policy back to Russia and renounced his predecessors bid to join NATO. Russian leaders Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin have repeatedly said the presidential system was th e best for ex-Soviet sta tes a nd cri ti cised Kyrgyzstans decision earlier this year to shift to a parliamentary democracy.

Musharraf launches party in London


Emerging from his two-year political exile with the launch of a new political party, All-Pakistan Muslim League (APML), Mr. Musharraf offered to work for peace with India but made it conditional on a settlement of the Kashmir issue to the satisfaction of Pakistan. On terrorism, he promised a policy of zero tolerance saying his party would fight it to the finish. Describing the current Pakistani administration as corrupt and inefficient, Mr. Musharraf said his decision to end his political exile was prompted by realisation that Pakistan was in a deep crisis and needed to be saved. His party, he said, would recreate the vision of Pakistans founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

Chinas lunar probe change-2 launch successful


Chinas lunar probe Change-2 was successfully launched, control centre at the Xichang satellite launch site in southwest Chinas Sichuan Province announced. Change-2 arrived at an Earth-Moon transfer orbit after it separated from the carrier rocket, which has a perigee of 200 km and an apogee of about 380,000 km from the earth, according to the centre. The satellite blasted off at 6:59:57 p.m. on a Long March 3C carrier rocket from No. 2 launch tower at the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre. Change II was built as an alternative to Change I, which was launched in October 2007 and maintained a 16-month lunar orbit. The series of Change probes is named after a legendary Chinese Moon goddess Xinhua.

Russia steps up Arctic presence in Energy rich Arctic region


Russia is stepping up military presence in the Arctic in a bid to reinforce its claims to vast swathes of the energy-rich region. The Northern and Pacific Fleet are [strengthening] their forces in Russias part of the Arctic by deploying new warships in the region, Russian Navy Commander-in-Chief Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti news agency. Admiral Vysotsky said he had sent a proposal to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to deploy battleships in Arctic ports to protect sea routes along Russias 22,600-km-long Arctic coastline.
139

U.S. apologises for human experiments


The United States has apologised to Guatemala for a series of experiments U.S. researchers conducted on Guatemalan prison inmates and mental hospital patients between 1946 and 1948. U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued statements of deep regret this

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International Events The Russian naval command has drawn up a proposal for the government to resume the lease of naval base at Cam Ranh, the Interfax news agency quoted a source in the naval headquarters as saying.

Judging by figures given by Admiral Vysotsky, Russias military activity in the Arctic today is higher than it was in the days of the Soviet Union. (Locate In Atlas)

Germany celebrates 20 years of unity Since Vietnam war:reunification


Germanys President paid tribute to the courage of those who fought for freedom, as the country celebrated 20 years since reunification after decades of Cold War division. After World War II, the victorious powers, the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union carved defeated Germany into four sections. With the advent of the Cold War, Moscow erected a border between its eastern section and the three western Allied sections, including the Wall that split Berlin in two. On October 3, 1990, just under a year after the Wall was yanked down in a bloodless revolution, the reunification treaty bringing the two halves of the country together came into effect amid joyful scenes.

The Russian return to Cam Ranh will impact strategic equations in the region. Cam Ranh was the main U.S. Air Force base during the Vietnam war, and in 1979 the Soviet Union leased the base gratis for 25 years turning it into its largest naval base abroad. In 2002 Russia gave up the lease after Vietnam asked it to pay an annual rent of $300 million. The Russian report comes less than a week before U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates begins an official visit to Vietnam amid warming military relations between the two countries. Washington has been seeking access to Cam Ranh for years to monitor Chinese naval activity, but Vietnam has stalled out of fear of antagonising China.

Submarine deal: By contrast, Hanoi will have no such problems granting docking rights to Russia, which is a strategic ally of both China and Vietnam. In recent months, Vietnam has signed contracts with Russia to buy six Kilo-class submarines and 12 Su-30MK2 fighter planes. Later this month, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will visit Vietnam to attend an ASEAN summit. India has also displayed interest in the Cam Ranh naval base. (Locate In Atlas)

Kabul, Taliban in secret talks: report


A rare window of opportunity for peace and political stability in Afghanistan might have opened up, according to a Washington Post article which reported that the Taliban and representatives of Afghan President Hamid Karzai have embarked on secret, high-level talks aimed at ending the war in the country. The article said the Taliban members were authorised to speak for the Quetta Shura, the wing of the Afghan Taliban based in the Pakistani city of Quetta. However, the sources mentioned by the Post said the groups kept out of the talks included the Haqqani network, a militant outfit in Pakistan that U.S. intelligence considers particularly brutal. In January, Pakistans role in Afghan peace negotiations came in for criticism after it emerged that Abdul Ghani Baradar, a senior operational commander of the Taliban, was arrested by Pakistani authorities because they reportedly feared being left out of a deal the Taliban was striking with the Hamid Karzai government.

Danube safe: said Hungarian P.M.


Hungarian officials played down the threat of disastrous pollution to the Danube river from an industrial accident in Hungary, while its Prime Minister said the situation was under control. Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who declared a state of emergency in three counties, insisted there remained little risk of the pollution running into the Danube, Europes second-longest river. (Locate In Atlas)

Russia renews interest in Vietnams Cam Ranh Bay navel base


The Russian Navy has announced plans to return to the Cam Ranh Bay naval base in Vietnam eight years after it pulled out from the strategic foothold in South East Asia.

FAO drops reference to J&K, Arunachal as separate countries


The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has dropped the references to Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as independent entities in its 2010 report and has initiated a review of system for designating countries and territories.
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The categorisation had come as a surprise to many in India. In its report, the FAO has shown Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as separate countries along with India. The two States figured in country grouping for East Asia.

the Vietnamese Prime Minister approved the master plan for developing the Cam Ranh Gulf until 2010 for civil use. This has been strongly implemented and the Cam Ranh airport was inaugurated on May 19, 2004, and it is now open for commercial flights.

First trial with human embryonic stem cells in U.S.


U.S. doctors have begun the first tests of human embryonic stem cells in patients, treating a man with spinal cord injuries in a landmark trial of the controversial process, said the Geron Corporation. The Phase I trial is expected to involve around 10 patients. Participants in the human trials must be severely injured and start treatment with Gerons product, GRNOPC1, seven to 14 days after sustaining their injury. Patients will be given a single injection of two million of Gerons GRNOPC1 cells in the trial. The ultimate goal for GRNOPC1 is to inject it directly into the spinal cord lesions of injured humans where it would, Geron hopes, prompt damaged nerve cells to regrow, enabling patients to eventually recover feeling and movement. Geron began working with human embryonic stem cells in 1999. GRNOPC1 is made up of cells containing precursors to oligodendrocytes multi-tasking cells that occur in the nervous system. Oligodendrocytes are lost in spinal cord injury, resulting in myelin and neuronal loss which cause paralysis in many patients.

Donilon is the new NSA of US


General James Jones will be stepping down from his role as the National Security Advisor of the United States and will be replaced by his deputy, Thomas Donilon, President Barack Obama announced.

GM mosquitoes to fight dengue: Malaysia


Malaysias Health Minister said the country would carry out a landmark field trial by releasing genetically modified mosquitoes designed to combat dengue fever by the end of the year. Malaysias death rate from dengue fever has spiralled 53 per cent this year and the public is being urged to take action to eradicate the Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes the females of which spread dengue from homes and workplaces.

Setback to Zardari in Supreme Court


The federal governments hopes of delaying the implementation of the Supreme Court verdict nullifying the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) were dashed as the apex court rejected its plea for deferring the next hearing beyond October 13. The government moved the court for delaying the hearing of its review petition against the NRO verdict on the premise that it needed time to find a new counsel to replace Kamal Azfar who had been elevated to the position of adviser to the Prime Minister. The NRO is an amnesty provision initiated during the tenure of the former President, Pervez Musharraf, to remove the vestiges of political vendetta and victimisation by previous regimes. It was struck down by the Supreme Court in December 2009. The 8,000-odd beneficiaries include 80 politicians but the governments delaying tactics is seen as a bid to prevent the reopening of graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

Chile rejoices as miners surface to freedom


Some 13 hours into the final phase of the rescue operation, the 20th miner of the 33 stepped from the escape capsule. Chilean President Sebastian Pinera was on hand to embrace the earliest arrivals in their first stirring moments of freedom.

Israels government ended an unofficial freeze on new building in east Jerusalem


Israels government ended an unofficial freeze on new building in east Jerusalem, approving the constructi on of 238 hom es in Jewi sh neighbourhoods as peace talks remained stuck over the fate of a broader construction slowdown throughout the West Bank. Peace talks that began in early September are deadlocked over a Palestinian demand that Israel extend a slowdown on settlement construction that
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Cam Bay not for lease: Vietnam


Vietnam said the strategic Cam Ranh Bay naval base would not be leased out to any foreign power for military purposes. For a long time, Cam Ranh has been known as a military port, which is now no longer the case. In 2003,

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International Events with gusts of up to 260 km an hour whipping up huge waves along the coast and killing at least one person. Forecasters said Megi was probably the most powerful storm in the world this year and the strongest to hit the Philippines since Typhoon Durian unleashed mudslides that buried entire towns and killed more than 1,000 people in 2006. (Locate In Atlas)

expired last month. The Palestinians are threatening to quit the negotiations unless Israel reinstates the building restrictions. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to do so. The Israeli settlement slowdown imposed last November in the West Bank did not officially include east Jerusalem, which Israel claims as part of its capital. Around 180,000 Israelis live in neighbourhoods Israel has built in east Jerusalem since capturing the area from Jordan in 1967. The eastern sector of the city is home to around 250,000 Palestinians, and Palestinians hope to make it the capital of a future state.

Chechen Parliament comes under terrorist attack


A daring terrorist attack on Chechnyas Parliament left at least seven people dead and 17 wounded. The attack could have been timed to coincide with a visit to Grozny of Russias Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev. In August, a group of suicide gunmen attacked Tsenteroi, the heavily fortified home village of Chechnyas President Ramzan Kadyrov. Russias troubled North Caucasus has seen a fourfold rise in terrorist attacks this year, a deputy Prosecutor General said last month.

Myanmar laying rail line to China which will be completed in 2015


Myanmar has started work on a railway line from its planned deep-sea port at Kyaukphyu to southwestern Chinas Yunnan province, Chinese media reported. The line, which will be completed in 2015, will transport Chinese goods for export, and also be used by China to expand its access to Myanmars natural resources. The two countries, last year, began work on an oil pipeline from Kyaukphyu to Ruili in Yunnan. The planned railroad will also run from Kyaukphyu, which is in Myanmars western Rakhine state, to Ruili and Yunnans capital Kunming. Chinas official Xinhua agency said China also planned to invest in a special industrial zone at Kyaukphyu. In recent years, Chinese companies, particularly those based in south-western Yunnan province which neighbours Myanmar, have accelerated investments in oil, gas and natural resources in the country. China has also invested in developing deepsea ports, such as Kyaukphyu in Maday Island, part of a larger plan to secure greater access to Indian Ocean ports and reduce its dependence on the narrow Malacca Straits for its imports of oil from West Asia and Africa. China eventually hopes to use Kyaukphyu as a centre for its imports of oil. The China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) is involved in building both a deep-sea port and storage facilities, from where oil will be transported through the planned pipeline, expected to be opened in 2012, to Yunnan.(Locate In Atlas)

3 suspended over expenses claims in Britain


Three senior peers Labours Lord Swraj Paul and Baroness Manzila Pola Uddin and independent Lord Amir Bhatia were formally suspended from the House of Lords for varying periods over their expenses claims. The House took the action after a report of the House of Lords Committee for Privileges and Conduct recommended their suspension for wrongly claiming expenses. They were also ordered to repay thousands of pounds they had claimed in excess. Lord Paul was suspended for four months, Baroness Uddin until Easter 2012 and Lord Bhatia for eight months. Both Lord Paul and Lord Bhatia have already repaid the excess amount while Baroness Uddin has been told to pay back 125,349.

U.S.-Saudi arms deal, the largest weapons sales in history


The United States has announced one of the largest weapons sales in its history, worth nearly $60 billion, to Saudi Arabia. Announcing the deal, Assistant Secretary for PoliticalMilitary Affairs Andrew Shapiro said the U.S. planned to sell the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia a significant
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Super typhoon megi hits the Philippines


Super Typhoon Megi smashed into the northern Philippines, causing landslides in mountainous areas,

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defence package that will promote regional security and enhance the defensive capabilities of an important Gulf partner with whom we have had a longstanding and close security relationship. The most significant components of the package include 84 F-15 aircraft, 70 upgrades of existing Saudi F-15s to a more advanced configuration, 70 AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters, 72 UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, 36 AH-6i light attack helicopters, and 12 MD-530F light training helicopters. The proposed packages also include aircraft munitions, support, and training services are sufficient, officials said. U.S. officials emphasised that in authorising the weapons sale they had taken into account how it was appropriate from a regional political-military perspective and determined that it would not negatively impact Israels security interests or Israels qualitative mi litary edge. Further, Assistant Secretary of Defence for International Security Affairs Alexander Vershbow said the sale would improve U.S.-Saudi interoperability and as a result the U.S. Department of Defence would be able to free up U.S. forces in the region and maximise the effectiveness of the U.S. global force posture. When asked whether the sale implied the use of air power against Iran, Mr. Shapiro said: It is not solely about Iran.

Applauding Pakistans role in the war against terror, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington had no stronger partner when it comes to counter terrorism than Islamabad. Of the new aid, $2 billion comes under the foreign military financing programme and $29 million is being given under the international military education and training funding. Ms. Clinton said a request would be made to Congress for the aid to be made available for the period from 2012 to 2016. This would complement the five-year $7.5 billion in civilian aid to Pakistan under the Kerry-Lugar Bill. This is for the first time that the U.S. has made a multi-year commitment of international military education and training.

Government, unions harden stand in France


A further hardening of positions in the standoff between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and striking workers calling for the re-examination of a proposed law to change the pension and retirement laws. Mr. Sarkozy sent in gendarmes to break up pickets and ordered striking oil refinery staff back to work. But defiant workers said they would challenge the Presidents order in court. Seeking to mute the disruptions, the government invoked a clause in the Constitution that allows the Senate to cast a single vote on the legislation and the 200 remaining amendments. The opposition cried foul saying its right to debate the bill had been curtailed in a most undemocratic manner.

Putin aide is Moscow Mayor


Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putins right-hand man has been elected Mayor of Moscow, the third most important job in Russia. Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Sobyanin vowed to tackle the corruption that flourished under his predecessor, Yuri Luzhkov. President Dmitry Medvedev sacked Mr. Luzhkov, who had held office for 18 years, for losing the Presidents confidence. The appointment of Mr. Putins trusted ally to Moscow, which generates 24 per cent of Russias GDP, is fresh evidence that the Prime Minister remains Russias most powerful political figure more than two years after he relinquished presidency.

WikiLeaks Iraq war papers detail civilian killings, torture


In the largest classified military leak in United States history, whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks released nearly 400,000 secret American documents on the Iraq war detailing graphic accounts of torture, killing of over 66,000 civilians and Irans role in the conflict. The latest leaked documents chronicling the Iraq war from 2004 to 2009 provide a new picture of how many Iraqi civilians were killed, open a new window on the role that Iran played in supporting Iraqi militants and give many accounts of abuse by the Iraqi army and the police, said The New York Times, one of the news organisations which got early access to the papers.
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$2.29-billion U.S. military aid for Pakistan to fight terror


The United States announced that it would provide a whopping $2.29 billion as military aid to Pakistan to bolster its armys anti-terror capabilities, notwithstanding Indias concerns that Islamabad has been diverting a portion of such assistance against it.

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International Events

1,500 birds die on Ukrainian island on The Cholera outbreak in Haiti Azov Sea The United Nations has confirmed five cases of
Around 1,500 dead birds were found on a Ukrainian island on the Azov sea, leaving experts puzzled about the cause of their deaths. The dead birds were found on the Bolshoi Dzendzik Island, the RIA Novosti reported. Most of the dead birds found near the Berdyansk spit were cormorants, but a large number of them included herring gulls as well, officials of the Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry said. (Locate In Atlas) cholera in Haitis capital after a sudden epidemic of cholera in northern and central Haiti killed 220 people, according to a U.N. report. U.N. health officials said that cholera had reached the capital Port-au-Prince, as officials scrambled to contain a wider outbreak 10 months after an earthquake devastated the Caribbean nation.

113 killed in Indonesia tsunami


A powerful earthquake triggered a three-metre tsunami that pounded remote island villages in western Indonesia, killing at least 113 people and leaving scores more missing, said an official. The fault that ruptured on Sumatra islands coast also caused the 2004 quake and monster Indian Ocean tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

Indonesia pledges to control haze


Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa has expressed resolve to address the problem of haze that was affecting neighbouring Singapore and parts of Malaysia. Mr. Natalegawa was speaking in Jakarta after Singapore and Malaysia had urged Indonesia to snuff out the uncontrolled fires in Sumatra. These were caused by dry weather and also unregulated activities.

China unveils worlds fastest bullet train


China unveiled what it described as the worlds fastest bullet train, which will connect two of the countrys industrial hubs travelling at an average speed of 350 km per hour. The rail link between Shanghai and Hangzhou, the latest addition to Chinas fast-expanding highspeed rail network that is already the worlds largest, covers the 200-km distance in only 45 minutes, reducing the travelling time from 78 minutes. The home-built CRH380 bullet train has been recorded travelling at 420 km per hour, a world record. It will, however, travel between the two cities at less than full tilt, at an average speed of 350 km per hour.

Russian interest in TAPI pipeline


Russia has offered to join the ambitious TurkmenistanAfghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, even as it opted out of a project to build a gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan and India. Russias natural gas giant Gazprom has opened talks with Turkmenistan on the companys possible involvement in the TAPI project, said Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, who is in charge of the energy sector. India has joined Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan in signing a TAPI Gas Pipeline Framework Agreement (GPFA). Turkmenistan hopes a Gas Sales Purchase Agreement (GSPA) may be signed during a proposed TAPI summit in Ashgabat in December. Russia signalled readiness to join TAPI as it lost interest in the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline, which Gazprom had earlier promised to help build. Russias envoy to Pakistan practically ruled out participation in it. Russian experts link Gazproms reluctance to join IPI to international economic sanctions against Iran. Last month Moscow cancelled a contract to sell advanced S-300 air defence missile systems to Iran.

Learn from India, says Chinese think-tank


China is fast outpacing India in terms of national competitiveness, but needs to learn from Indias legal system and protection of vulnerable groups, the countrys top think-tank has said in a report. A report on national competitiveness released by the official Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), which is Chinas leading think-tank, also forecast that China would become the worlds secondmost powerful nation after the United States by 2050, and overtake the U.S. to become the largest economy in 2030.
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U.S., Russia to join EAS: ASEAN


The United States and Russia will be the new members of the East Asia Summit (EAS), a forum of native states of the region and their dialogue partners among major powers of the world. This follows a decision taken by the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at their latest annual summit in Hanoi. Washington and Moscow will be invited to attend the annual meetings of the EAS from 2011. Founded over four years ago, the EAS now has 16 members all the 10 ASEAN countries, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea. The ASEAN leaders emphasised the need for ensuring [the Associations] centrality to an expanded EAS as well. Currently, the ASEAN Chair presides over the EAS meetings. As a leadersdriven strategic forum, the EAS functions as a key organisation for regional cooperation on a range of issues including security. An effect i ve r egion a l a r chi t ectur e [for cooperation] should be based on existing processes which are complementary to each other, the ASEAN leaders decided. These processes include the ASEAN+3 forum, the +3 countries being China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea.

to Afghanistan, limiting assistance to supply of helicopters and provision of transport corridors.

Chinas supercomputer worlds fastest


China has overtaken the U.S. as home of the worlds fastest supercomputer. Tianhe-1A, named in honour of the Milky Way, is capable of sustained computing of 2.507 petaflops equivalent to 2,507 trillion calculations each second. The U.S. scientist who maintains the international rankings visited it and said it was 1.4 times faster than the former number one, the Cray XT5 Jaguar in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. That topped the list in June with a rate of 1.75 petaflops. The U.S. is home to more than half of the worlds top 500 supercomputers. China had 24 in the last list, but has pumped billions into developing its computational ability in recent years.

Terrorism: Yemen not for foreign forces role


Faced with mounting international pressure to do more, the leadership in Yemen is sending out a message that it will not allow the West to run its counter-terror drive against Al-Qaeda. Yemens President Ali Abdullah Saleh stressed that Sanaa would not permit foreign forces to undertake counter-terrorism operations on Yemeni soil. The press conference was held after two parcel bombs apparently originating from Yemen and bound for religious centres in Chicago were recovered on separate flights in Dubai and East Midlands airport in Britain.

A first for women in Pakistan


Veteran human rights activist Asma Jehangir has won a keenly-contested election for president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, becoming the first woman to hold this office.

Medvedevs Kuril islands visit angers Japan


Russian President Dmitry Medvedev becoming the first Russian leader to visit the Kuril archipelago in the Pacific Ocean and reassert Russias sovereignty over the islands claimed by Japan. Mr. Medvedev flew to Kunashir, one of four islands that Japan calls its Northern Territories, on the way back from Vietnam. He toured the island, telling its residents that Russia would invest heavily to develop the islands. Japan demands the return of four sparsely populated islands in the Kuril archipelago, which Russia took under its control during World War II. In 1956 Russia agreed to hand back two of the islands but Japan rejected the compromise. Russias new leadership has ruled out the return of any Kuril islands to Japan. (Locate In Atlas)
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In joint raid with U.S., Russia back in Afghanistan


Russian and U.S. special forces have carried out th eir fi rst joint an ti-na rcotics oper ati on in Afghanistan that marked the first time Russian security personnel set foot in that country in more than 20 years. In a joint raid on four heroin laboratories near the border with Pakistan, Russian and U.S. forces seized $250-million worth of narcotics, The operation marked Russias return to Afghanistan for the first time since the Russian Army pulled out from the country in 1989 after a 10-year war. So far Moscow has consistently rejected sending its troops

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International Events The claims relate to the peers entitlement to a second home allowance if their main residence is outside London.

Brazilians celebrated the election of their first- ever woman President


Brazilians celebrated the election of their first-ever woman President, Dilma Rousseff, who pledged to extend policies implemented by popular outgoing leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, her mentor. Mr. Lulas tireless backing of Ms. Rousseff delivered her 56 per cent of the ballots in a runoff against opposition challenger Jose Serra, the former Governor of Sao Paulo state who scored 44 per cent. While Mr. Lula (65) is required to hand over power in two months time, after completing the two consecutive terms. Ms. Rousseff (62), an economist who served as Mr. Lulas Cabinet chief before he handpicked her as his successor, swore she would make eradication of poverty her priority in government as she sought to honour the trust voters had shown her. Her biggest challenge will be preparing the country to host the 2014 football World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, both awarded under Mr. Lulas deft lobbying.

Vietnam gets aid for nuclear power plants


The civil nuclear energy option has come into sharp focus in Southeast Asia, with Vietnam firming up foreign aid and Singapore evincing interest. Meanwhile, Russia and Japan agreed, independently, to help Vietnam in the civil nuclear sector. The dual breakthrough was announced by the Vietnamese leaders after they held different meetings with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan in Hanoi.

Blasts in Greece
A parcel bomb burst into flames at the Swiss embassy in Athens and controlled explosions were carried out on packages at the Russian and Bulgarian embassies, Greek police said, a day after intercepting several similar packages. Police said a total of five parcel bombs had been discovered in the capital, just days before local elections, following similar packages addressed to three other embassies and President Nicolas Sarkozy .

U.K., France sign historic nuclear deal


Setting aside their historic rivalry, Britain and France signed an unprecedented 50-year nuclear deal that would see them share nuclear facilities and jointly develop technology, marking what British Prime Minister David Cameron described as a new chapter in the now-on-now-off AngloFrench relations. They also agreed to create a joint rapid reaction force of up to 5,000 troops deployable at short notice and to cooperate in a range of other defence-related areas.

Obama suffers setback as Republicans wrest House


Republicans captured the House of Representatives and expanded their voice in the Senate, riding a powerful wave of voter discontent as they dealt a setback to President Barack Obama two years after his triumphal victory. When last results came in Democrats had won 185 seats and Republicans 239 in the election to the Lower House. For the Senate, Democrats won 51 and Republicans 46.

Swraj Paul quits as Deputy Speaker of Lords


Labour peer Swraj Paul resigned as Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords following his suspension from the House over his expenses claims. Lord Paul and two others Baroness Manzila Pola Uddin and Lord Amir Bhatia were suspended on the recommendations of the House of Lords Committee for Privileges and Conduct which inquired into allegations that they wrongly claimed parliamentary expenses. Lord Paul was suspended for four months, Baroness Uddin until Easter 2012 and Lord Bhatia for eight months.

Nikki Haley elected Governor


Having gone from state legislature to Governor of South Carolina in a span of just six years, Nikki Randhawa Haley is being hailed as a rising star on the American political horizon. Daughter of Punjabi Sikh immigrants from Amritsar, Nimrata Nikki Randhawa Haley (38) has become the first Indian-origin woman, and second IndianAmerican after Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, to become the Governor of a U.S. state. Another Indian146

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American Kamala Harris won the election for AttorneyGeneral of California. Five other Indian-Americans, all Democrats, bit the dust in the face of an antiestablishment vote.

Kamala Harris wins California poll


Indian-American Kamala Harris won the election for Attorney-General of California. Ms. Harris will be the first woman to hold the office. Daughter of an Indian mother and African-American father, Ms. Harris is the District Attorney for San Francisco.

The incumbent Prime Minster, Nouri al-Maliki, who belongs to the main Shia bloc, is expected to continue for a second term. There has been a power sharing agreement in principle with the rival Iraqiya formation, led by the former interim Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, over the composition of the new government, Iraqi officials said.

Protests over nuclear waste train in Germany


Protesters delayed a train hauling nuclear waste to a storage site in northern Germany,rappelling off a 75metre-high bridge to dangle over it and blocking the tracks, police said. Near Dannenberg, riot police tried to stop some 3,000 protesters making their way onto the tracks. Activists maintain that neither the waste containers nor the Gorleben site, a temporary storage facility, are safe. Though protests have been muted in recent years, Chancellor Angela Merkels decision to extend the life of Germanys 17 atomic power plants by an average of 12 years has breathed new life into the anti-nuclear movement.

Warm welcome for Hu Jintao in France


French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla themselves went to the airport to receive Chinese President Hu Jintao a rare honour as Paris rolled out the red carpet for a three-day visit that is expected to culminate in several lucrative contracts for French companies including the sale of EPR nuclear reactors by nuclear giant Areva. The chapter of its strained relations with Beijing caused by the demonstrations in Paris when the Olympic flame passed through the French capital enroute to the Beijing games and the 2008 handshake between Mr. Sarkozy and the Dalai Lama albeit on Polish soil. The China Southern airline has announced its intention of buying 36 Airbus planes valued at 2.6 billions. China will also be purchasing two more EPR nuclear reactors in addition to the two it has already bought (estimated cost 10 billions). And Areva is likely to sell another 3 billions worth of uranium to the Chinese utility CGNPC. The FrancoAmerican telecom company Alcatel-Lucent will sign three contracts with China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom worth 2 billions.

Israel gave settlers land deals in east Jerusalem


The Israeli government sold or leased property in Arab neighbourhoods of Jerusalem to Israeli settlers at exceptionally low prices, helping them cement a Jewish presence there, court documents published show. The Arab neighbourhoods are part of east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast War and claimed by the Palestinians as a future capital. Expanding Israeli enclaves in these neighbourhoods would make a partition of Jerusalem along ethnic lines as part of any peace deal exceedingly difficult. The documents were released to anti-settlement activists who sought a comprehensive accounting of the governments deals with two settler groups, Elad and Ateret Cohanim

Volcano death toll climbs to 136


The tiny hospital at the foot of Mount Merapi struggled to cope with victims brought in after the fiery volcano unleashed its most powerful eruption in a century some with burns covering 95 per cent of their body. Indonesias most volatile mountain unleashed a surge of searing gas, rocks and debris that raced down its slopes at highway speeds, torching houses and trees and incinerating villagers caught in its path.

Violence rocks Myanmar


Deadly clashes erupted between Myanmar troops and ethnic minority rebels, prompting an exodus across the border in the wake of an election that the juntas proxies looked sure to win. At least three civilians were killed when heavy weapons fire hit the town of Myawaddy in Karen State,
147

Power-sharing deal in Iraq


Amid a fraying security situation eight months after parliamentary elections, Iraq appears set to acquire a national unity government.

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International Events

Zipporah Sein, Thailand-based general secretary of the Karen National Union (KNU), said there had been fighting between government forces and Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) troops in the two areas.

Support for U.S. Fed policy draws criticism in China


Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs apparent support for the U.S. Federal Reserves controversial policy to pump $600 billion into the economy has not gone down well in China, days ahead of a crucial G20 meeting in South Korea. The Feds bond-buying move, which will likely devalue the dollar, has been strongly criticised by China, Germany and Brazil in recent days. China has argued that the policy will reduce the competitiveness of emerging nations exports, as well as exacerbate economic imbalances. Chinas currency valuation is bone of contention, with Washington threatening trade action if China did not further appreciate its yuan, which, many countries say, has been devalued to support exports.

Tory office stormed over fee hike


Thousands of angry university students stormed the Conservative Party headquarters in Central London smashing windows and hurling burning objects into the building as a protest against planned cuts to higher education funding and increase in tuition fee turned violent. Several people, including one policeman, have been taken to hospital with minor injuries. The Millbank Tower, where the Conservative Party offices are located, was virtually taken over by sloganshouting demonstrators some of whom climbed on to the roof of the building amid fears that violence could spread. In the Commons, Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was involved in angry exchanges with the opposition Labour Party over the proposed fee increase. Mr Clegg who opposed tuition fee in opposition was accused of opportunistic uturn for supporting the increase.

G20 meet in Seoul agrees to curb trade imbalances


Leaders of the worlds biggest economies agreed to curb persistently large imbalances in saving and spending but deferred until next year tough decisions on how to identify and fix them. The agreement, the culmination of a two-day summit meeting of leaders of the Group of 20 industrialised and emerging powers, fell short of initial U.S. demands for numerical targets on trade surpluses and deficits. But it reflected a consensus that longstanding economic patterns in particular, the United States consuming too much, and China too little were no longer sustainable.

Chinas rare feat in space


China has pulled off a tricky and uncommon feat in space flight, manoeuvring one of its satellites to within about 300 metres of another while they were orbiting Earth, space analysts say. China is not saying why it conducted the August manoeuvre, but it comes as the nation is ambitiously expanding its space programme, including building a space station and conducting lunar missions. It is expected to launch the first module of its space station next year, followed by a manned spacecraft to dock with it. Using unclassified tracking data from the U.S. military, space-watchers calculated that China manoeuvred its SJ-12 satellite close to its SJ-06F satellite on about August 19. Manoeuvring an unmanned orbiting vehicle from a control room on Earth is extremely difficult because of the distance and because data on the location of the vehicle can be off by hundreds of metres.

G20: norms to identify imbalances by mid-2011


Leaders of the Group of 20 industrialised and emerging powers largely endorsed an approach to imbalances that Finance Ministers, including U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, hammered out last month at a meeting in Gyeongju, South Korea, but added a timetable. The Ministers, along with the heads of central banks like the Federal Reserve, are to agree by mid-2011 on indicative guidelines for identifying big, persistent imbalances, and Chinese President Hu Jintao said China would host meetings to establish those guidelines. The International Monetary Fund will then conduct an analysis of the root causes of the imbalances
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and the damage that they cause, by the next G-20 leaders meeting, to be hosted by France late next year.

responsibility for security operations to Afghan forces over the next 18 to 24 months. A similar announcement by the Obama administration, to begin a troop drawdown in Afghanistan by July 2011, came in for a barrage of criticism on the grounds that it could strengthen the hands of militants who might regroup.

Aung San Suu Kyi walks free


Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmars celebrated prodemocracy leader and a political prisoner of global stature, was set free from house arrest in Yangon. Hundreds supporters waited for her at the Yangon headquarters of the recently-derecognised National League for Democracy (NLD), which she still leads. World leaders hailed her in comments on the release, which was ordered before the junta could transfer power to an ostensibly civilian government following the November 7 general election. Myanmars military establishments have subjected Ms. Suu Kyi to four terms of house arrest and at least two spells in prison, for about 15 years in all, since 1989. She led the NLD to a landslide victory in the countrys free elections in 1990 but was not allowed to lead a civilian government.

Kickbacks paid in France-Pakistan deal


A former French Defence Minister has told a judge in Paris that reverse kickbacks or what the French term retro-commissions were in fact paid in the 1995 deal to sell six Agosta Class submarines to Pakistan. The judge is enquiring into the causes of the 2002 blast that killed 11 French naval engineers sent to Karachi to oversee the assembling of the Agosta submarines. The former Ministers declarations corroborate a 2002 French secret service report which was kept under tight wraps by the authorities and which became public only in 2008 when it was leaked by the media. Until then it had been alleged that the engineers were killed by the Taliban or by Islamist extremists. Sources close to the enquiry in France say the Pakistan Army and the ISI engineered the blast in reprisal against the non-payment of commissions in the Agosta deal.

U.S.-China row rumbles on at Apec summit


U.S. President Barack Obama used a Pacific Rim summit to press China on its flood of exports aided by a cheap yuan, but President Hu Jintao said Beijing would make reforms at its own pace. The competing visions of the two economic giants were laid out a day after the Group of 20 knocked back U.S. proposals for binding targets to address global trade imbalances and curbs on currency manipulation proposals effectively aimed at China. Mr. Obama also made an appeal to tear down trade barriers as the 21 members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum kicked off a summit in Japan, clouded by tensions between its biggest economies. Washington has urged Beijing to allow its yuan to rise, claiming it is undervalued to create an unfair trade advantage although the United States has been accused of doing the same by diluting the value of the greenback with a $600-billion cash injection announced this month. (Locate In Atlas)

Singapore to host oil and gas expo


OSEA2010, an oil and gas exhibition, will be held in Singapore from November 30 to December 3. The expo will feature 1,500 international exhibitors over 24,000 sq. metres. The expo is expected to see the participation of over 22,000 business and thought leaders, industry professionals and government officials from 60 countries and regions.

Chinas assurance to neighbours over Brahmaputra, Mekong dams


The Chinese government mounted a defence of its dams on the Brahmaputra and Mekong rivers, assuring its seven neighbours, including India, who have voiced concerns about the projects that downstream flows will remain unaffected. Besides India, which raised the construction of a 510 MW dam on the Brahmaputra in talks with the Chinese leadership,Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia had expressed similar concerns over eight dams being built on the Mekong River. China has stressed that its eight dams would help, and not hinder, flood management, the Mekong River Commission (MRC) represented by Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia has called on China to share more data and be more transparent about its plans. China has been reluctant to join the MRC.
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U.S. likely to end Afghan mission by 2014


The United States government is set to announce a plan to end its combat mission in Afghanistan by 2014, a goal that will require the gradual transfer of

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International Events Medvedev used the meeting to try and re-engage Tehran, which had angrily reacted to Moscows support for U.N. Security Council sanctions earlier this year and the cancellation of a deal to sell Russian air-defence systems.(Locate In Atlas)

In talks in Beijing this week, India voiced similar concerns, calling on China to continue sharing data regarding its plans for the Brahmaputra, or the Yarlung Tsangpo as it is known in Tibet. While India and China have set up a joint expert-level group to exchange hydrological data, the absence of a water-sharing treaty means the exchange of information is limited. (Locate In Atlas)

UNESCO dissociates itself from World Philosophy Day events


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has decided to dissociate itself from the World Philosophy Day events scheduled to be held in Iran. The Day has been celebrated by the UN body every year since 2002, November, both at the Unesco headquarters in Paris and in other cities around the world. The General Conference of Unesco established the World Philosophy Day in 2005.

1,500 tourists rescued near Mt. Everest


The Nepalese authorities rescued 1,500 tourists with the help of helicopters and airplanes after they were stranded at Lukla, the gateway to Mt. Everest, for more than a week.

NATO pact on missile defence


U.S. President Barack Obama and his NATO allies agreed to shield Europes peoples from rogue rocket attacks with a screen of interceptor missiles, and to invite Russia to take part. The deal commits NATO members to deploy a phalanx of anti-missile batteries to shoot down incoming missiles and urges Moscow to link its own defensive systems to the grid. Winning agreement on the shield also gave the NATO leaders a boost as they prepared for the second day of their Lisbon summit . But the 28 NATO powers hope President Dmitry Medvedev can be won over at the first such meeting between NATO and the Kremlin chief since Moscow waged a war in Georgia in 2008. NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he expected Russia and the Allies to begin a joint study of how Russia could be included in the missile defence system, which would be a significant softening of Moscows position.

2014 deadline for NATO in Afghanistan


NATO and Afghanistan agreed to the goal of a phased transfer of security responsibility to the Afghan government by the end of 2014, but acknowledged that allied forces would remain in Afghanistan at least in a support role well beyond that date. NATO and U.S. officials also warned that if Afghanistan had not made sufficient progress in managing its own security, 2014 was not a hardand-fast deadline for the end of combat operations. We will stay after transition in a supporting role, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Secretary-General of NATO, said at a news conference after meeting with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan.

North Korea has new nuclear plant: U.S. scientist


In secret and with remarkable speed, North Korea has built a new, highly sophisticated facility to enrich uranium, according to an American nuclear scientist, raising fears that the North is ramping up its a tomic pr ogramme despite internat ional pressure. The revelation could be designed to strengthen the North Korean government as it looks to transfer power from leader Kim Jong Il to a young, unproven son. As Washington and others tighten sanctions, unveiling the centrifuges could also be an attempt by Pyongyang to force a resumption of stalled international nuclear disarmament-for-aid talks.
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Russi a, Iran t o step up civil nu clear cooperation despite sanctions


Russia and Iran have agreed to step up civil nuclear cooperation despite the international sanctions imposed on Tehran over its nuclear programme. The agreement was reached at a meeting between President Dmitry Medvedev and his Iranian coun ter pa rt Ma hmoud Ahma di nejad on t he sidelines of a Caspian summit in Baku, capital of Azerbaijan. Irans first nuclear power plant in Bushehr built with Russian assistance would be started soon. Mr.

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Bailout sinks Ireland into crisis


Ireland, already teetering on the brink of an economic collapse, was plunged into a political crisis after the governments decision to accept a European Union financial bailout triggered calls for a snap election and Prime Minister Brian Cowens resignation. The Green Party, a partner in Mr. Cowens Fianna Failled coalition, said the people of Ireland felt betrayed and the situation demanded political certainty. With six MPs, the party holds the balance of power in Mr. Cowens fragile coalition and were it to pull out the government could fall. Mr. Cowen, who had previously insisted that the country could manage the crisis on its own, confirmed he had agreed to a joint EU/IMF package and a formal process of negotiations would commence.

In recent years, China has increasingly begun to explore expanding its domestic high-speed rail network, which is already the worlds biggest, beyond its western and southern borders. In the west, China has, so far, reached agreements to build railway lines from its Xinjiang region to Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The national network will reach 120,000 km by 2020, and 60 per cent of the railway lines will be located in Chinas western regions, which have historically lagged the coastal east on most development indicators. (Locate In Atlas)

North Korea shells South Korean island in The disputed Yellow Sea
North Korea and South Korea exchanged several rounds of artillery fire across the disputed Yellow Sea, leaving at least two South Korean marines killed and 16 others injured in shelling by the North on a populated island. The South Korean government blamed the North for starting the exchange, saying dozens of rounds of artillery shells were fired at its Yeonpyeong Island, which lies along the disputed maritime border off the western coast of the Korean Peninsula. It is inhabited by around 1,600 people. The South accused the North of violating the 1953 Armistice Agreement and responded by putting its military on the highest level of non-wartime alert, even readying F-16 fighter jets. The North Korean government, however, disputed this version, saying its firing was in response to liveammunition military drills that the South has been conducting in recent days The exchange has further heightened tensions in the region and reduced the likelihood of resumption of the stalled Six Party Talks, which the North quit two years ago after conducting several missile tests.

China plans S-E Asia rail links


China has accelerate plans for high-speed rail links with Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos, as part of a wider effort to deepen engagement with its Southeast Asian neighbours. Work will begin on a 1,920-km high-speed rail line connecting south-western Yunnan province with Yangon in Myanmar, with trains running at over 200 km/h, studies were also under way to link Yunnans capital Kunming with Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. In August, the Ministry of Railways also sent a team to Thailand to explore investing in a $ 25.6-billion, 240-km high-speed railway and rail network. Beijings increased infrastructure investment in Southeast Asia, analysts say, is part of a larger effort to expand economic and strategic influence in the region. Beijing hopes the investment will also ease anxieties among its ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) neighbours over the impact of Chinas rising economic influence.

While China became the first country to ratify an The recent resurgence in tensions takes place amid political uncertainties in Pyongyang, with North ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (FTA), a fast-widening Korean leader Kim Jong-il preparing for the succession trade imbalance in Chinas favour, in part fuelled by of his 26-year-old son Kim Jong-un. the flooding of the ASEAN market with Chinese goods, has led to strains in commercial relationships Tensions are unlikely to subside in coming days, with with many ASEAN countries. The trade deficit grew the Souths military drills in the Yellow Sea, involving to $21.6 billion last year. A number of countries have around 70,000 troops, scheduled to continue till also voiced concern over the pattern of Chinese November 30. (Locate In Atlas) investments, which have generally targeted resources Cambodian festival stampede leaves 380 dead such as oil and minerals. China has also recently proposed a $15-billion fund for infrastructure-building in ASEAN countries. Frantic relatives scoured makeshift morgues in Cambodian capital Phnom Penh after over 380
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International Events Cooperation Organisation (SCO) focused on launching large-scale joint projects. We propose creation of a road map of joint actions for the coming decade where we would define concrete steps on implementation of trade and economic cooperation, said Mr. Putin, addressing a meeting of the Prime Ministers of the SCO in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The SCO has six full members Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan , as well as four observer-states India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan.

revellers perished in a stampede on an overcrowded bridge, turning a water festival into a tragedy. Prime Minister Hun Sen described the disaster as the countrys worst tragedy since the Khmer Rouges 19751979 reign of terror, which left up to a quarter of the population dead. He declared a national day of mourning.

Israels new law draws fire from Palestinians and Iran

The Palestinians and Iran have slammed Israels new law which will make it harder for Tel Aviv to withdraw from the annexed territories of East Jerusalem and the Bushehr nuclear plant fuelled: Iran Golan Heights. The Israeli Parliament passed a law under which withdrawal from East Jerusalem or Golan Heights would be possible only on the basis of a two-thirds approval from Parliament. In case a super-majority in Parliament fails to approve the withdrawal, a referendum will be held on the proposal. Palestinians who want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state have rejected the Israeli move.

Head of Irans atomic energy organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi said that the fuelling of the countrys first nuclear power plant has been completed. All fuel assemblies have been loaded into the core of the reactor, Irans Student News Agency (ISNA) quoted him as saying. All we have to do now is to wait for the water inside the reactors core to warm gradually, and carry out another series of tests. Mr. Salehi observed that it would now take around two months for the plant to join Irans national power grid. Mr. Salehi said Iran was set to import from Russia, radio-medicine required for the treatment of cancer. Iran had in October commenced loading nuclear fuel rods into the core of its Russia built power reactor in Bushehr, clearing the last major hurdle in the way of the completion of the long delayed project.

UK announced Cap on non-EU migration


The UKGovernment announced plans to sharply reduce the number of skilled migrants from India and other non-European Union countries who would be allowed to enter Britain from next April when a new cap on annual migration would kick in. The cap would not apply to intra-company transfers following protests from multinational corporations, some of whom threatened to close their British plants if such transfers were included in the cap. But the exemption would apply only to those earning more than 40,000 a year.

WikiLeaks takes cloak off U.S. diplomacy


The United States was catapulted into a worldwide diplomatic crisis with the leaking to the Guardian and other international media outlets of more than 250,000 classified cables from its embassies, many sent as recently as February 2010. At the start of a series of daily extracts from the U.S. embassy cables many of which are designated secret the Guardian can disclose that Arab leaders are privately urging an air strike on Iran and that U.S. officials have been instructed to spy on the U.N.s leadership. These two revelations alone would be likely to reverberate around the world. But the secret dispatches which were obtained by WikiLeaks, t h e wh i s t l e bl ower s we bsi t e, a l s o r e vea l Washingtons evaluation of many other highly sensitive international issues.
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Putin offers Russias tigers to revive species


Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has offered to share his countrys growing tiger population with other countries to help save the big wild cat from extinction.

Tiger families from Russia could start the process of reviving tiger populations where they have completely disappeared, in such countries as Kazakhstan and Iran, said Mr. Putin, addressing the Tiger Summit in St. Petersburg.

Putin for 10 year road-map projects in SCO


Russias Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has called for creating a 10-year economic road map for the Shanghai

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Low turnout in Egypts Parliamentary Polls


Egyptians in modest numbers headed for polling stations amid tensions following a government crackdown on the main opposition party ahead of the parliamentary polls. A total of 41 million registered voters were eligible to elect candidates for 508 seats. However the turnout, as polling progressed during the day, was low. In the 2005 elections, only 22 per cent voters cast their ballot, according to official records.

has repeatedly stated that it would only agree to join a European missile defence on the basis of fully equal partnership to ensure that the system does not threaten Russias nuclear deterrent. However, U.S. ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder is on record as saying that the U.S. would build missile defences in Europe in accordance with its plans irrespective of whether Russia joins in.

Arrest warrant for Assange


Interpol called for the arrest of WikiLeaks founder.The France-based Interpol said it had alerted all memberStates to arrest Julian Assange, who is wanted in Sweden for probable cause of suspected rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion.

Sri Lanka-Pakistan pact


Sri Lanka and Pakistan have agreed to promote dialogue on security and defence issues, including training of security forces personnel. A joint statement issued at the end of a four-day visit by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said that at a meeting with his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa, both leaders condemned terrorism in all its forms. Pakistan was one of the key allies of Sri Lanka in its fight against the LTTE. Besides, Sri Lankan defence personnel at various levels are trained in Pakistan.

Protest and a promise in Malaysia


Malaysias opposition alliance, Pakatan Rakyat, held a protest rally in Kuala Lumpur to articulate a local issue, while Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak pledged, at a national political convention, to stand by and with the people. A few thousand activists gathered outside the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur in support of a petition to the King by the opposition-ruled Selangor government that its rights over local water resources be restored. The rally, for which police had not given permission, was declared an unlawful assembly. With some protesters turning unruly, police fired tear gas and used water cannon to disperse the crowd. Nearly 50 were detained for interrogation and released on bail. The petition was later submitted to the palace.

Russia warns of arms race


Russias ruling tandem has warned the West of a new arms race if Russia and NATO fail to agree on missile defence in Europe. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said that Russia would deploy new nuclear weapons and strike forces if Russian proposals for a joint missile defence with NATO were rejected and the U.S. fails to ratify the New START treaty. The stark warnings came days after Mr. Medvedev returned from what was billed as a highly successful trip to Lisbon to attend a NATO summit where Russia and the Atlantic Alliance agreed to launch a reset in their relations. Last time Mr. Medvedev threatened to deploy new nuclear-capable missiles to counter the proposed U.S. missile shield in Europe was two years ago, when George W. Bush was still U.S. President. President Barack Obama has since cancelled Mr. Bushs plan and in Lisbon NATO invited Russia to cooperate in building a pan-European missile defence which should become a kingpin of strategic partnership between the former Cold War foes. Mr. Medvedev said Russia and NATO have already launched a joint study of his proposal to link the Russian and NATO missile defence systems. Moscow

Gulf Cooperation Council summit opens


Three decades after it came into being, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) session begins to take a collective view on political, economic, security and social issues of the six-member States. The Summit is being hosted by the United Arab Emirates under its President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the Foreign Ministers meet to finalise the programme, while reviewing draft decisions and recommendations to be put up for discussions at the two-day meeting of the Supreme Council. Ahead of the event, the GCC general secretary Abdul Rahman bin Hamad al Attiya was quoted by a news agency describing the Summit as a turning point in the GCC joint action in all domains. Besides, the hosts, the GCC consists of Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar. At the conclusion of the previous
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International Events Opinion polls ahead of the vote showed support for Mr. Thacis PDK at 30 per cent, just two per cent ahead of its main rival the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) led by Pristina Mayor Isa Mustafa. The ethnic-Albanian majority declared Kosovo independent in February 2008, a move recognised by 72 countries including the U.S. and all but five European Union members. Serbia, which still considers the territory as its southern province, has advised the 1,20,000-strong Serb minority in Kosovo not to vote. More than 10 years after the war between the independence-seeking Albanian majority and forces loyal to then Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic, Kosovo remains one of the poorest regions in Europe with nearly half the population living below the poverty line. (Locate In Atlas)

Kuwait Summit, the Council among other things reiterated its stand on the importance of following international legality and underscored its stance aimed at rendering the West Asia region free of nuclear arms. (Locate In Atlas)

GCC asks Iran to fulfil international requirements


Amid concern over security and terrorism in the region, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) asked Iran to fulfil international requirements in making the region and the Gulf area free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and nuclear weapons. It also decided to establish a centre to combat terror. The Abu Dhabi Declaration, issued at the end of a two-day GCC meeting, welcomed international efforts, especially the current 5+1 talks, to attend to the Iranian nuclear issue and expressed the hope that Tehran would work positively. Terming good step the 5+1 move, the GCC felt that Iran should fulfil its obligations towards the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and stressed on the right of all countries in the region to pursue nuclear power for peaceful purposes.

Cambridge project to preserve rare Indian and other languages


The University of Cambridge has launched a unique project to provide universal access to languages of India and elsewhere that are endangered and part of the worlds disappearing spoken traditions. The open database, called World Oral Literature Project, has been developed by the Universitys researchers and is available at the following URL: www.oralliterature.org. In In dia, the projects include ethnogr aphic documentation of the literature and culture of the indigenous Mudugar and Kurumbar communities in Palakkad district of Kerala using digital video, audio and photography. Another India-based project is a 20-hour-long recording of a ballad about the life and adventures of Tejaji, the Snake Deity, sung by the Mali community (gardeners) in Thikarda village of Bundi district in Rajasthan, along with the documentation of Tejaji customs and traditions in the Hadoti region of the State.

U.S. plans to defend the Baltic irks Russia


Russia has said it is bewildered over NATO secret plans to defend the Baltic states and Poland against Russian aggression as revealed in the latest batch of WikiLeaks spills. The cables show that earlier this year NATO drew up plans to defend the former Soviet states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as Poland against a perceived Russian threat. The plans identified nine NATO divisions for combat operations against Russia and provided for the deployment of naval assault forces and British and U.S. warships in the Baltic Sea. What makes the secret NATO plan particularly scandalous is the fact that it was endorsed at the same Lisbon summit where the Atlantic alliance in the presence of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev declared its desire to build strategic partnership with Russia. (Locate In Atlas)

Kosovo votes in historic poll


Kosovo voted in its first elections since declaring independence in 2008, which look set to weaken Prime Minister Hashim Thacis grip on power. Police reported threats to minority Serb voters in Nor th Kosovo but ther e wer e no r eports of violence.

Ivory Coast poll winner tries to govern f r o m hotel


From a hotel room just big enough to hold a bed and a desk, the man considered the legitimate President of Ivory Coast is trying to govern a troubled nation whose sitting President refuses to leave.
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Alassane Ouattara does not have access to the presidential palace, so he holds Cabinet meetings in a tent on the hotel lawn. His administration has taken over the hotel managers office, where the fax machine is used to communicate with embassies abroad. And the neighbouring golf courses sloping fairways may soon house soldiers defecting from the army still controlled by incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo. In the upside-down world that has taken root in this corner of Africa, 68-year-old Mr. Ouattara was declared winner of presidential election by his countrys election commission in an outcome certified by the United Nations. He was recognised as the legal President by the United States, the European Union, former colonial ruler France and the African Union. Just about the only world leader who has not acknowledged his victory is the one occupying the presidential palace across town. (Locate In Atlas)

ar e fr agile, accor di ng t o t he Worl d Heal th Organisation. Malaria cases or hospital admissions and deaths have been cut by half in 11 African countries over the past decade, the WHOs world malaria report shows. Outside Africa, in 32 of the 56 remaining malaria endemic countries, the gains have been even greater. Eight more countries have seen reductions in the number of cases of between 25 per cent and 50 per cent. Last year Morocco and Turkmenistan were certified malaria-free. The results set out in this report are the best seen in decades, said WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan. After so many years of deterioration and stagnation in the malaria situation, countries and their development partners are now on the offensive. Current strategies work.

Ruggiero to head Af-Pak mission


Frank Ruggiero, a career civil servant who served under late Richard Holbrooke, has been made the Acting U.S. Special Representative to the Af-Pak region and will be assisted by two deputies, one of them an Indian-American.

Wen visit to deepen China-Pakistan energy ties


The two countries are expected to push forward cooperation in nuclear energy, and discuss plans for China to set up its fifth nuclear power reactor in Pakistan a one-gigawatt plant which will mark the single biggest deal in nuclear energy between the two countries. The China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) announced in September that talks had begun for a 1 GW plant. The company has already set up two reactors in Chashma, and in March announced it had started work on two more. The deals for the three new reactors have stirred debate, with many countries saying Chinas nuclear co-operation goes against guidelines governing nuclear trade. The 46-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), of which China is a member, prohibits the transfer of nuclear technology to countries that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Chinese officials defended the deals, and suggested China would proceed with them after seeking safeguards from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Graft charges against Cheney dropped


Nigerias anti-corruption police have dropped charges against Dick Cheney, former U.S. Vice-President, over a multimillion dollar bribery case after the energy firm Halliburton agreed to pay up to $250 million in fines. Houston-based engineering firm KBR, a former Halliburton unit, pleaded guilty last year to U.S. charges that it paid $180 million in bribes between 1994 and 2004 to Nigerian officials to secure $6 billion in contracts for the Bonny Island project . KBR and Halliburton reached a $ 579 million settlement in America but Nigeria, France and Switzerland have conducted their own probes. (Locate In Atlas)

Oklahoma Penitentiary uses animal drug to execute inmate


The Oklahoma State Penitentiary has used a veterinary anaesthetic drug called pentobarbital, more commonly used to put down dogs, to execute John Duty (58), a prisoner on death row. In a development that is likely to fuel the ongoing arguments on whether the lethal injection method of execution constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, the state used the animal drug in place of sodium thiopental, one of the three chemicals injected as part of the procedure.
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Malaria success in Africa


Malaria is in retreat in many countries of subSaharan Africa after a huge effort in the last two years to get bed nets and indoor spraying into areas where the disease is endemic, but the gains

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International Events indispensable alliance with the U.S. And, the two countries had agreed to in May that the plan to relocate the Futenma base within Okinawa would drive their efforts to sustain this military alliance into the future. However, the people of Okinawa have consistently opposed the daily inconveniences they suffer because of the prolonged U.S. military presence on their home turf. (Locate In Atlas)

China, Pakistan ink deals worth $15 billion


Burying differences, the entire Pakistani leadership both civil and military was out in strength in the capital, along with the business community, to honour Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the second day of his three-day visit to Pakistan. Through the day packed with engagements for Mr. Wen, the Pakistani leaderships endeavour was to convey to China its gratitude for being a steadfast friend, whose leader chose to visit Pakistan in its hour of trial. China is the only P-5 country to send a head of state/government to Pakistan this year, while the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council paid high-level visits to India on their calendar this year. Mr. Wens visit to the country carries as much weight as the slew of agreements worth billions signed by his delegation. Besides agreements/memoranda of understanding worth $15 billion, Mr. Wen announced a $410-million package for flood relief.

Russia, West differ on Europes last dictator


Russia and the West offered contrasting reactions to presidential elections in Belarus swept by the countrys long-time authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko. Mr. Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus for the past 16 years, gained 79.7 per cent of the vote in the polls contested by 10 candidates, according to the Central Election Commission. The turnout was just over 90 per cent. Western observers and governments accused Mr. Lukashenko, described as Europes last dictator, of using fraud and violence to win a fourth straight term in office. However, Russias President Dmitry Medvedev refused to pass a judgement. He called to wait for official results and described the Belarus vote as an internal affair, even as he voiced the hope that Belarus would continue its march towards building a modern state, based on democracy and friendship with its neighbours. (Locate In Atlas)

Colombo agrees to U.N. panel visit


The Sri Lankan government said it had no objection to the U.N. Secretary-Generals experts panel visiting the country to depose before the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The panel, to advise the Secretary-General on accountability issues arising from the war against the LTTE, has been a bone of contention between the U.N. and Colombo for several months. When Ban Kimoon appointed the panel, Colombo had voiced serious concerns on the ground that it impinged on the nations sovereignty. The latest stance is a clear sign that U.N. has succeeded in persuading Colombo that the panel is not aimed at undermining the countrys efforts in the post-conflict scenario.

Dont Ask, Dont Tell law repealed


The United States Senate took a historic step forward as Congress passed a bill to repeal the controversial Dont Ask, Dont Tell (DADT) law, a ban on openly gay persons serving in the U.S. military. The DADT law, introduced in 1993 as a compromise to allow gay persons to serve in the military, has reportedly led to over 12,500 members of the armed forces being discharged. In November, an official survey found that more than two-thirds of the armed forces in the U.S. do not object to gays and lesbians serving openly in uniform.

No support for key U.S. base in Japan


Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan failed to win popular support for the planned relocation of a key United States military base within the Okinawa prefecture. Mr. Kans failure came just a day after his Cabinet approved Japans national defence programme guidelines for a period of 10 years from 2011. The new defence blueprint, designed to transform pa ci fi st Ja pa n s sel f-defence forces i nt o a dyn a m i c ou t fi t , ca l l s for a fur t h er en h a n cem en t of Tokyos deca des-l on g

Ghauri test fired


Pakistan successfully test fired Hatf V (Ghauri) a Medium Range Ballistic Missile capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads over 1,300 km. Lauding the 11-year-old Army Strategic Force Command (ASFC) for the successful launch, Prime
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Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said the test was a signal to the world that Pakistans defence capability was impregnable and should never be challenged.

Officials from the Central Asian nation are expected to raise the issue with Beijing early next year and press for more information on hydro-projects in Xinjiang. The Irtysh and Ili rivers, crucial to Kazakhstans water security, have their source in Xinjiang. Since 2000, China has accelerated development in the region, which has seen intermittent ethnic unrest. Kazakh officials say Chinas development push in Xinjiang, which includes a number of dams and irrigation projects, is the main reason behind the falling water-levels in both the rivers. The rivers drain into the Balkhash lake, which sustains the livelihood of more than two million Kazakhs. Kazakhstan has, however, been reluctant to publicly voice its concerns. China is a major destination for Kazakhstans energy exports. In both cases, China, as the upper-riparian or upstream-lying state, holds the cards, having not committed to any bilateral water-sharing t r e a t i e s a n d be i n g e n t i t l e d t o, u n d e r international laws, use the rivers waters for hydropower generation and other projects. As wi t h t h e Br a h m a put r a , t h e r e a r e a l so persisting concerns that China has plans to divert the Irtysh, though in both cases Chinese officials have stressed there are no such plans. The Balkhash lake, was losing water. The water level is now lower by more than two metres to what it was three decades ago. Pollution is also rising, which has affected the banks and surrounding areas. Agriculture, the health of the ecosystem and the communities around it are at risk. Kazakh officials fear that the Balkhash will face a similar fate to the Aral Sea, which is on the ve r g e of d i s a p p e a r i n g be c a u s e of h e a vy pollution. Its mismanagement is regarded as one of the worlds worst environmental disasters. Ch i n ese offi ci a l s st r essed t h a t Ch i n a wa s p a yi n g h i g h a t t e n t i on t o i n t e r n a t i on a l communication on trans-border water issues. (Locate In Atlas)

U.S. Senate approves New START with Russia


The United States Senate handed President Barack Obama his second major bipartisan victory during its ongoing lame-duck session when it passed the New START treaty, an arms reduction agreement with Russia. The New START treaty was initially signed by Mr. Obam a an d Russian Presi dent Dim it ri Medvedev in April2010. In it, both countries agreed to aggregate limits of 1,550 warheads; a combined limit of 800 deployed and non-deployed Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile launchers, Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile launchers, a n d h e a vy bom ber s eq ui ppe d for n uc l e a r armaments; and separate limit of 700 deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs, and deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments. The treaty also came with a verification regime that combined elements of the 1991 START Treaty with new elements tailored to the limitations of the Treaty. In this regard the White House had sta ted t ha t m ea sur es un der t he new t reat y included on-site inspections and exhibitions, data exchanges and not ifications related to strategic offensive arms and facilities covered by the Treaty.

Russian Parliament approves New START


The Russian-American New START treaty won preliminary approval of the Russian Parliament, even as Moscow rejected as unacceptable the U.S. Senate ratification resolution. The State Duma, Lower House of Parliament, supported the treaty by a 350-56 majority in a first of thr ee votes, but postponed its final approval till next year. In Russia, international treaties must be approved by both Houses of Parliament in contrast to the U.S. Russias President Dmitry Medvedev hailed the pact as a cornerstone of stability in the world and Europe for decades to come.

Chinas dams in Xinjiang region trigger U.S.-Russia row over Khodorkovsky concerns in Kazakhstan A strident exchange of official statements between the
Chinas dam-building spree in its far-west Xinjiang region has triggered concerns in the neighbouring Kazakhstan, where officials say two main rivers have begun to see water-levels recede at an alarming rate. United States and Russia has followed in the wake of the guilty verdict for Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Russian businessman convicted of embezzling billions of dollars worth of oil money.
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CURRENT AFFAIRS FOR I.A.S. (PRE.) 2011

International Events

Mr. Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev were found guilty of siphoning and then laundering money from their oil company Yukos. Shortly after the verdict was announced U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, Todays conviction in the second trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky... raises serious questions about selective prosecution and about the rule of law being overshadowed by political considerations.

Governor of Pakistans Punjab gunned down


The outspoken Governor of Pakistans Punjab province, Salman Taseer, was gunned down, allegedly by one of his own security guards. The guard, who surrendered to the police soon after, is said to have been upset with Taseer for his support to a Christian woman charged with blasphemy. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), to which Taseer belonged, has called for a fortnight-long mourning, with its spokesperson Fauzia Wahab underscoring the point that yet another party stalwart had made the ultimate sacrifice. Taseer angered the religious right wing after he visited Aasia Bibi who was sentenced to death by a sessions court in November last for allegedly committing blasphemy in the Sheikhupura jail. He also forwarded her mercy petition to President Asif Ali Zardari and stuck to his guns despite threats from hardliners.

Earlier proof of modern man


Human teeth dating back 400,000 years,ago had been discovered in Africa, leading researchers speculate that this was the continent on which Homo sapiens originated. The cave was uncovered in 2000 near Rosh HaAyin and a morphological analysis was performed on the teeth. The teeth are similar to those of modern man, CT scans and X- Rays showed. They are also very similar to evidence of modern man from those discovered at two separate locations in northern Israel and which date from 100,000 years ago. According to the researchers, their discoveries are likely to change the perception that modern man originated in Africa.

South Sudan set for referendum


Sudans President Omar al-Bashir arrived to a redcarpet welcome at Juba airport, on a rare trip to the south just five days before it votes in a referendum on independence. The Sudanese President pledged to help build a secure, stable and brotherly state in the south if it votes for independence, in a speech delivered in northern Gezira state. More than 3.5 million southerners are registered to participate in the referendum due to begin, which will give them the chance to vote on whether to remain united with the north or secede. The vote is a key plank of the 2005 north-south peace deal that ended a devastating 22-year civil war in which some two million people were killed and another four million displaced.

Egypt church blast kills 21


A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a Coptic church in Egypt, killing 21 people and wounding 79 in an attack President Hosni Mubarak said was the work of foreign hands. Some 15 hours after the bombing, growing numbers of Christians were continuing to vent their anger. By mid-afternoon, hundreds of youths in small groups in the neighbourhood of the church were showering rocks and bottles on police, who responded with tear gas and rubber-coated bullets.

Asian aid convoy arrives in Gaza


More than 100 Asian activists calling for the lifting of the Gaza blockade and ferrying vital humanitarian aid entered the Palestinian coastal strip. They are part of an Asian aid convoy, Asia1, which started on December 2 from Rajghat in New Delhi and travelled by road to Syria, after crossing Pakistan, Iran and Turkey. Asian unity would be the first major step leading to the liberation of Palestine.

Ivory Coast rivals agree to meet: AU envoy


Ivory Coasts political rivals Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara have agreed on a face-to-face meeting to try to resolve the countrys political crisis, African Union envoy Raila Odinga said. We have broken the ice. They have agreed to meet face to face but under certain conditions, Mr. Odinga, Kenyas Prime Minister, told AFP by telephone from Abuja.
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Mr. Odinga was part of a four-member African delegation that held talks with the rival Ivory Coast leaders in capital Abidjan.

China records a milestone in offshore oil, gas output


China has joined the worlds elite club of offshore oil producers after China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) announced that its oil and natural gas output surpassed 60 million metric tonnes in 2010. The countrys largest offshore oil explorers oil and gas production last year totalled 64.13 million metric tonnes of oil equivalent, of which 50 million was produced domestically, said its president Fu Chengyu. Chinas surging energy demand has led the nations foreign oil dependence ratio to reach a new high of 55 per cent in 2010. He added that about 800 billion yuan ($121 billions) to 1 trillion yuan would be invested during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), with the majority going to offshore oil exploration.

Mystery over bird deaths


New Years revellers in a small Arkansas town were enjoying midnight fireworks when they noticed something other than sparks falling from the sky: thousands of dead blackbirds tumbling out of the darkness to the ground. The red-winged blackbirds rained onto rooftops and sidewalks and into fields. In all, more than 3,000 birds inexplicably dropped dead. Now scientists are investigating whether bad storms, fireworks or poison might have brought the flock down, or if a disoriented bird simply led the group into the ground.

Chavez proposes envoy names to U.S.


After weeks of diplomatic standoff between Venezuela and the United States, during which both countries rejected the appointment of the others Ambassador, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez showed a way out of the stalemate by proposing that the U.S. appoint either former President Bill Clinton, a Hollywood celebrity such as Sean Penn or Oliver Stone, or liberal intellectual Noam Chomsky as Venezuelan Ambassador. Washingtons fracas with Caracas began when U.S. Ambassador-designate to Venezuela, Larry Palmer, made critical comments to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about low morale in the Venezuelan military and concerns regarding Colombian FARC rebels finding refuge on Venezuelan soil. In August, Mr. Chavez announced that he would not be willing to accept Mr. Palmers appointment, describing his Senate remarks about Venezuela as blatantly disrespectful. In retaliatory action at the end of last month, the U.S. revoked the visa of Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez.

Sudan vote sparks Africa balkanisation fears


If south Sudan, why not south Nigeria, or north Ivory Coast, or multiple Congos? The Sudanese vote to decide on independence for its southern regions has implications for all of Africa, signalling that the borders drawn by colonial cartographers are no longer sacrosanct. Some fear it may spur the balkanisation of the continent. The continents arbitrary borders blind to ethnic, cultural and political faultlines were drawn up by Britain and other European powers at the Berlin conference of 1884-85. When the colonies gained independence 50 years ago, the Organisation of African Unity (now the African Union) declared the borders immutable because the alternative would look like a smashed window pane of thousands of warring states. Eritrea broke away from Ethiopia in 1993 after nearly 30 years of war, but it had already been a separate entity in colonial times. So the sundering of Sudan, Africas biggest country, would represent an unprecedented challenge to the historical status quo.
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CURRENT AFFAIRS FOR I.A.S. (PRE.) 2011

International Events The new fighting came after clashes between the militia and southern troops in the states Mayom county and in which the Army said it killed six fighters and captured 32 without sustaining any casualties. Unity state is the location of some of the souths main oil fields, which were one of the key issues of conflict in the devastating 1983-2005 civil war with the north. Both U.N. and military sources said the earlier clashes may have been the work of loyalists of Gatluak Gai, a renegade militia commander who rejected an amnesty offer from the southern government and whose forces are active in the area.

It is being watched closely in Nigeria, Africas most populous country, which has its own, sometimes violent schism between a predominantly Muslim north and largely Christian, oil-rich south But divisions in Ivory Coast are more complex than religion alone. The same is true in Sudan and Nigeria, which has more than 250 ethnic groups. Tribalism, tradition, culture and language, inequality, political marginalisation, access to resources, rural/urban rifts and the imprint of colonialism can all be manipulated by leaders to inflame tensions.(Locate In Atlas)

Clashes disrupt voting in south Sudan oil state


Clashes between renegade militiamen and south Sudanese troops disrupted voting in a landmark independence referendum in part of a key oil state, the organising commission said.

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