Syria agrees 'in principle' to observer mission

As international pressure continues to increase on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the regime has agreed “in principle” to let an observer mission into the country, but said that they were still studying the details. The move is part of a proposed deal by the Arab League who suspended Syria earlier this week, making it only the third nation to have ever been suspended. It comes as Germany, France and the UK tabled a UN resolution calling for an end to human rights violations in Syria and urging Damascus to implement an Arab League plan. The draft resolution was also, significantly, backed by four Arab countries; Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Morocco. France’s Foreign Minister Alain Juppe also called for stronger action against the Syrian regime, after meeting with his Turkish counterpart earlier. Saying that "the situation is no longer sustainable," Juppe told reporters, "We have called on Assad to change but the regime did not want to know, which is not acceptable. We are ready to strengthen the sanctions. " He went on to say that France believed Syria "was not willing to implement a reform programme and now it is too late ". Speaking on the latest proposed resolution, he also commented, "It is not normal that the [United Nations] Security Council has not made any decision so far... I hope those blocking any resolution will be aware of the reality of the situation." China, who along with Russia blocked the last UN resolution on Syria, also began to signal their apprehension with Assad on Thursday, saying it was " highly concerned " by the rising violence. Meanwhile the Syrian opposition has continued to call on the international community to isolate President Assad’s regime.

Sudan rebels expressed 'regret' at Ban Ki Moon's remarks

Suda nese rebel groups expressed surprise and regret at the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon's condemnation of the formation of a rebel alliance - the Sudanese Revolutionary Force - on the 11th November. On Monday, Ban Ki Moon expressed concern at the growing tension between Khartoum and Juba, and argued that the establishment of the rebel alliance would only serve to further escalate the conflict in the region. The groups, hailing from the Blue Nile, Darfur and South Kordofan regions, situated along the border between Sudan and South Sudan, and include Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), Sudan Liberation Movement factions of Abdel Wahid Al-Nur (SLM-AW) and Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) and the SPLM-N (Sudan People's Liberation Movement - North). Yasir Arman, the Secretary General of SPLM-N and the former presidential candidate of the SPLM last year, said he was "surprised" at Ban Ki Moon's statement and argued that it showed that Ban Ki Moon was supporting "the aggressors and war criminals " instead of "supporting the victims and the right of the Sudanese people to democracy and the respect for human rights and the rule of law ". The rebel groups asserted that the solution to the conflict, lay in a political and armed struggle to overthrow the government in Khartoum .

US citizen agrees to face war crimes trial in Bosnia

A native Bosnian man has agreed to return to the country to face charges of war crimes committed during the 1993 civil war in the former Yugoslavia. Edin Dzeko, 39, a naturalized US citizen, is accused of being a senior member of a unit that attacked the village of Trusina in April 1993, killing 16 civilians and at least four unarmed soldiers. Court papers identify Dzeko as a leader of the Bosnian Army's Zulfikar Special Purposes Detachment. He has been in federal custody since April, after an extradition request totalling 400 pages was filed against him by Bosnian prosecutors. While Dzeko...

Former Rwandan Mayor found guilty of genocide

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has handed down a sentence of 15 years to a former mayor, after he was found guilty on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. Gregory Ndahimana was mayor of the Kivumu district in 1994 when a church was bulldozed by police, killing more than 2,000 people trapped inside. While he was cleared of directly participating in the massacre himself, Ndahimana was found to have played a crucial role in the killings. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda said in a statement, "The chamber ... found Ndahimana guilty of genocide and...

Future belongs to those who stand for freedom - Obama

Addressing the Australian parliament on Thursday, US President Barack Obama, lauded freedom, stating that " prosperity without freedom is just povery", and reiterated the US stands for " an international order in which the rights and responsibilities of all nations and people are upheld ." Watch his address in full here . Extracts reproduced below: "History shows that over the long run democracy and economic growth go hand in hand. And prosperity without freedom is just poverty." "Every nation will chart its own course, yet it also true that certain rights are universal . "Among them - freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion , the freedom of citizens to choose their own leaders." "These are not American rights, or Australian rights, or Western rights." " These are human rights. They stir in every soul , as we've seen in the democracies that have succeeded here in Asia." "If this vast region [Asia-Pacific] and its people teach us anything, it is that the yearning for liberty and progress will not be denied ." "The currents of history may ebb and flow, but over time they are moving decidedly, decisively in one direction," " History is on the side of the free - free societies, free governments, free economies, free people . "And the future belongs to those who stand firm for those ideals, in this region and around the world ." "This is the work we will carry on together for the security, prosperity and dignity of all people."

Yugoslav war crimes court hailed as a success

Speaking at a seminar on Tuesday, legal experts praised the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia , saying that it has set a precedent in helping to end impunity for war crimes worldwide. Richard Dicker, director of Human Rights Watch's international justice program said that the tribunal "demonstrated beyond question that an international criminal tribunal for the most serious crimes can work." He went on to commend the ICTY saying that it "shows the potential and actual effectiveness of these international courts." When the tribunal was first set up in 1993, critics were...

Arab League issues ultimatum, as Free Syrian Army vows to defend protesters

The Arab League gave Syria an ultimatum of three days on Wednesday, to " stop the bloody repression " of protesters and permit observers into the area. At a meeting in Morocco, the Qatari Foreign Minister, Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim al Thani, threatened Syria with sanctions and stated that diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict were "close to the end of the road". Pro-government mobs in Syria responded to the Arab League's statement by attacking the embassies of the UAE and Morocco. Morocco has recalled its ambassador to Syria. Responding to the on-going clamp down on peaceful protesters by government forces, the Free Syrian Army, has vowed to defend civilians. Earlier on Wednesday, the rebels launched an attack on an air force intelligence base. Speaking to Channel 4, a rebel commander said , "The Free Syrian Army attacked the air force intelligence base and they killed the guard and they burnt the place. They occupied the compound before beating a tactical retreat. " We will conduct such attacks so long as the regim targets civilians ." " The attacks will escalate ."

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...