China concern at US task force in Australia

US President Barak Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard have announced plans to station US troops in Australia from next year. Initially 250 marines will be stationed in the Northern Territory, increasing to 2,500 troops in the next few years. The move is seen as a more assertive role for the US in the Asia-Pacific, particularly to counter the influence of China in the region. Mr Obama said the US was "stepping up its commitment to the entire Asia-Pacific", including China. "The main message that I've said, not only publicly but also privately to China, is that with their rise...

Arab League meets Syrian opposition

The Arab League invited the Syrian Opposition, the Syrian National Council, for talks in Cairo on Tuesday, to discuss the planned transition of power. After meeting officials from the Arab League, Abdel Basset Sedah, of the opposition Syrian National Council's executive office, said, "The Arab League will announce soon a date for a conference to include many of the Syrian opposition groups to discuss the ways and time needed to move to a transitional period." Meanwhile, Burhan Ghalioun, the head of the Syrian National Council met Russian diplomats in Moscow. Urging the two sides to start a dialogue, the Kremlin has refused to back calls for the resignation of President Bashar Al-Assad. Ghalioun said, "We were unable to change the position of the Russian government, and they also could not change our position."

British minister visits Burma

The UK’s International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell has called on the Burmese regime to release all political prisoners, during the first visit by a British minister in decades. Mitchell told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “enough had changed to justify a visit and engagement like this.” "It is clear that there are grounds for cautious optimism, but the picture is mixed," he said. "On the one hand, there is now proper dialogue between Aung San Suu Kyi and the government and they have released some of the political prisoners. "But, on the other hand the ethnic conflicts which...

US, Russia, China united on Iran issue: Obama

Speaking at the Asia-Pacific leaders’ summit, US President Obama has said that China, Russia and the US are united over the need to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear arms. The talks with his counterparts resulted in an agreement on a major objective. "All three of us entirely agree on the objective, which is making sure that Iran does not weaponize nuclear power and that we don't trigger a nuclear arms race in region," he said. He added that the three countries will work closely together to explore available options to exert pressure on Iran and resolve the issue diplomatically. He however...

Oxfam to leave South Sudan amid escalating violence

International aid group, Oxfam, announced its decision to remove its staff from the South Sudan border on Sunday, citing worsening violence and fears for the safety of Oxfam's twenty-two staff present. The announcement follows the bombing of a refugee camp in South Sudan on Thursday. Both the UN and South Sudan have accused Sudan of launching the attack. The Oxfam aid workers had been providing clean water for 64,000 people. In a statement, the aid group said, "Oxfam teams were about to start an assessment in Upper Nile to provide aid to new refugees. They have fled attacks and walked for...

‘Brutal’ occupation of Kashmir must end – Arundhati Roy

Speaking at the Asia Society in New York, Indian novelist Arundhati Roy called on India to withdraw its troops from Kashmir and respect their right to self-determination. "Kashmir is one of the most protracted and bloody occupations in the world, and one of the most ignored," she said in at the event entitled ‘'Kashmir: The Case for Freedom'’. “ I think that the people of Kashmir have the right to self-determination. They have the right to choose who they want to be, and how they want to be. The first step would be to demilitarise, to withdraw this absolutely unbelievable law the Armed Forces...

Foreign embassies attacked as Arab League suspends Syria

Tens of thousands of pro-government protesters have taken to the streets in Syria to protest against the suspension of the country from the Arab League. Protesters attacked embassies of Arab League members and other countries, including France and Turkey, with the latter withdrawing all diplomatic staff and their families from Damascus. 18 of the 22 members of the pan-Arab organisation voted for the suspension of Syria, after it did not implement proposals by the Arab League, which were initially supported by Syria. Iraq abstained from the vote, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon voted against the...

Dutch parliament passes genocide bill

The Netherlands earlier this week passed a bill that allowed them to extend the possibly of detecting and prosecuting genocide suspects. The bill, which now needs to be approved by the Senate, allows prosecutors to consider cases of genocide further retrospectively than currently allowed and also permits greater co-operation with international courts. Currently, only genocide cases with crimes committed after the 1st of October 2003 can be considered before Dutch courts, a loop hole that has allegedly allowed many suspected war criminals to flee to the country. The new bill though allows cases as far back as the 18th of September 1966, when the Genocide Convention Implementation Act in the Netherlands came into force, to be prosecuted for. Former Minister for Justice, Ernst Hirsch Ballin, who proposed the bill said , "It is unacceptable that an alien who is otherwise guilty of genocide is immune from prosecution, because the Netherlands, before the time of the crime, had no jurisdiction. This sends an undesirable signal to victims and their families." The move has been welcomed by many groups, including those seeking justice for victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and have urged other European countries to emulate the bill.

UN committee endorses peoples' right to self-determination

The UN committee responsible for social, humanitarian and cultural affairs adopted a draft resolution on a peoples' right to self-determination on Tuesday. The draft resolution, entitled 'Universal Realisation of the Right of Peoples to self-determination' was written by Pakistan and co-sponsered by over 50 countries including China. The resolution states, " the universal realisation of the right of all peoples , including those under colonial, foreign and alien domination, to self-determination is a fundamental condition for the effective guarantee and observance of human rights and for the...

US soldier convicted of killing Afghan civilians

US soldier was convicted of three counts of murder, of conspiring to commit murder and other crimes, including assaulting a fellow soldier and taking fingers and a tooth from the dead, on Friday. Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, sentenced to life in prison for his crimes, was the leader of the US army unit responsible for the killing of three Afghan civilians last year. In all five soldiers have been charged with killing civilians. Some soldiers took pictures posing with the dead and took body parts as trophies. Witnesses stated that Gibbs had orchestrated scenarios after the murders to give the...

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