Baghdad, July 11 (IANS) Iraq shares the concern over the Syrian crisis, UN-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan has said, adding that Baghdad supports his six-point plan and its comprehensive implementation, Xinhua reported. Annan, who arrived in Baghdad Tuesday on a blitz tour covering Syria and Iran, said here during a press conference that he met Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and both sides agreed over sparing no efforts to stop killings for Syrians' sake. He said they also agreed on ensuring that the conflict in Syria should not spill over in its neighbourhood. Annan said during his regional tour in Damascus, Tehran and Baghdad, he had the opportunity to discuss with leaders of the three nations on the need to get the Syrian people to the political dialogue. The former UN chief is to brief the UNSC Wednesday on his three-nation trip. Earlier, Iraqi prime minister expressed his country's readiness to help in Syrian crisis following his meeting with Annan. Maliki, in a statement issued by his office, confirmed his support for the UN envoy to find a solution to the prevailing crisis in Syria. "Although the situation is difficult, we must make efforts to stop the killing and to find a political solution to achieve the legitimate goals of the Syrian people," he said in the statement. The Iraqi prime minister called on Syria's neighbouring countries to take the highest degree of responsibility in dealing with the crisis situation and stressed upon the need to focus all efforts in stopping the killings and bloodshed. He expressed the fear of growing extremism due to the escalating violence and murder, saying: "We must work to contain the fire and put them out instead of pouring oil on it." Maliki said any change that comes through dialogue would be helpful but called for stopping the foreign interventions, saying: "The Syrian people is the one who pays the price."
Baghdad, July 11 (IANS) Iraq has expressed its willingness to help in solving the Syrian crisis. On Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki mentioned his country's readiness to help in Syrian crisis following a meeting with the visiting UN-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan, Xinhua reported. Annan arrived Tuesday in Baghdad on a blitz tour covering Syria and Iran. Maliki, in a statement issued by his office, confirmed his support for the UN envoy to find a solution to the prevailing crisis in Syria. "Although the situation is difficult, we must make efforts to stop the killing and to find a political solution to achieve the legitimate goals of the Syrian people," he said in the statement. Maliki called on Syria's neighbouring countries to take the highest degree of responsibility in dealing with the situation in the crisis while stressing on the need to focus all efforts to stop the killings and bloodshed. He expressed the fear of growing extremism due to the escalating violence and murder, saying: "We must work to contain the fire and put them out instead of pouring oil on it." Maliki said any change that comes through dialogue would be helpful and called for stopping the foreign interventions, saying: "The Syrian people is the one who pays the price."
Damascus, July 10 (IANS/AKI) A fleet of Russian warships Tuesday began sailing towards Syrian ports, Iran's Arabic TV network al-Alam reported. Russia has opposed international moves towards a political transition in strife-torn Syria against embattled President Bashar al-Assad. A bloody 16-month-long crackdown against anti-government protesters in Syria has left thousands of people dead. --IANS/AKI pm/rn
Moscow, July 10 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Russia's military chief, Gen. Nikolai Makarov, Tuesday began a three-day official visit to the US to discuss the American missile defence plans, the Russian defence ministry said. Makarov, chief of the Russian armed forces general staff, will hold talks with US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, a ministry spokesman said. "The talks will focus on the discussion of the US missile defence plans," he added. Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said Makarov would "make yet another attempt to explain (Russia's) stance on missile defence at least at a chief of staff level". He warned that Russia would not ignore the deployment of the elements of the US missile defence in Europe and would respond adequately to any threats to its security. Russia has retained staunch opposition to the planned deployment of US missile defence systems near its borders, claiming they would be a security threat. NATO and the US insist that the shield would defend NATO members against missiles from North Korea and Iran and would not be directed at Russia. Moscow insists it should receive legal guarantees from Washington that its European missile defense shield will not target Russia's strategic nuclear forces. The agenda of the talks between Makarov and his US counterpart will also include the discussion of bilateral military cooperation, and joint assessment of regional and global security. --IANS/RIA Novosti pm/vm
Agartala, July 10 (IANS) The Gauhati High Court's bench here Tuesday stopped the counselling of students for admission to medical and engineering courses on a plea alleging irregularities in the Tripura Joint Entrance Board (TJEB) exam, a lawyer said. The court directed police to seize all the answer scripts of the TJEB exam held in April for medical, engineering and other technical courses. The result was declared last month. Justice Subhashish Talapatra of the Agartala bench of the high court also directed a scrutiny of the answer sheets by hand-writing experts following allegations of alteration of answers, the lawyer said. The court directions came on a plea by 11 engineering and medical courses aspirants, who appeared in the TJEB exam. They alleged modifications in their answer scripts, obtained under the Right to Information Act, he said. Nearly 2,000 students appeared in the exam which helps students get admission in institutions in Tripura and other states. The case would next be heard July 17. The main opposition Congress Tuesday demanded a judicial probe by a sitting high court judge to unearth the wrong doings in the TJEB exam. The irregularities in the TJEB exam were the biggest scam in the education sector in India, opposition leader Ratan Lal Nath told reporters. The Congress and its frontal organisations have launched agitations across the Left Front ruled state in support of their demands that include dissolution of the TJEB, dismissal of its chairman besides a judicial probe into the alleged irregularities.
Guwahati, July 10 (IANS) A central team arrived in Assam Tuesday to assess the damage caused by the floods in the state's 27 districts. The first wave of floods and landslides have so far killed 125 people with at least 17 people missing, says the State Disaster Management Authority. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who July 2 surveyed some of the flood-affected areas in helicopters, had announced Rs.500 crore as immediate relief and assured all possible help after the team submitted its report to the union government. After its arrival, the seven members of the team left for upper Assam, lower Assam and Barak Valley in three groups, accompanied by state government officials. The central team is likely to meet Assam Chief Secretary Naba Kumar Das and officials of various departments including revenue, water resources and agriculture Thursday before leaving for New Delhi, an official. They would then submit a report to the government. Meanwhile, another team, including officials from the union ministry of environment and forests will visit the state to assess the damage to wildlife during the first wave of floods that also affected the national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and all protected areas for animals in the state, a senior official of the Kaziranga National Park told IANS. The date for the visit has not yet been fixed. HeThe official said 594 animals of the park, including 17 one-horned rhinos, have died this year in the floods. The floods, which were highest in the last eight years, had also damaged the anti-poaching infrastructure inside the national parks and other such protected areas in the state.
Moscow, July 10 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has criticised US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who he claimed threatened Russia and China while speaking at a Friends of Syria conference. "We saw overt threats to Russia and China. (Clinton said)... they will have to pay a high price if they do not do what other countries demand. Do you understand? Obviously, this is the downright madness of those who consider selves rulers of the world," Spanish-language TV network Univision quoted Chavez as saying Monday at a press conference in Caracas. He urged Clinton to instead look into the problems of the American people. "There are enough problems in the US, but they (the US authorities) want to do (in Syria) what they did in Libya," Chavez said. Foreign military troops killed thousands in Libya to kill Gaddafi, Chavez continued. "And now they want to do the same in Syria and threaten Iran," he said. The Venezuelan president said Cuban Leader Fidel Castro has already warned him that "there is a serious threat of nuclear war". Clinton criticised Russia and China last week for blocking efforts to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. She said Russia and China need to understand that there is a price to be paid for "blockading" the Syrian peace process. "I ask you to reach out to Russia and China and not only ask but demand that they get off the sidelines. I don't think Russia and China believe they are paying any price at all, nothing at all, for standing with the Assad regime," the US secretary of state was quoted as saying. --IANS/RIA Novosti pm/tb
London, July 10 (IANS) Glaciers nestling under the shadow of Diran and Rakaposhi, two towering peaks in the Karakoram Range of northern Pakistan, remain impervious to global warming and have even grown slightly in recent years, suggests a new study. Bucking regional and global trends that indicate ice loss, French glaciologists have confirmed that glaciers in Himalayan Karakoram have remained impervious to global warming and climate change. The results have implications for local water supplies and glacial hazards and, the team says, underscore the value of high resolution monitoring in accurately determining regional scale glacial changes, the journal Nature Geoscience reports. Additionally, the results "show that we need to be careful as glaciologists when we are extrapolating measurements made on a few small glaciers", says Etienne Berthier, glaciologist at the Universite de Toulouse in France and study co-author. Berthier says the next plan is to take a closer look at regional climate models and meteorological data "to better understand the origin of this anomaly", according to a Toulouse statement. They also hope to expand their geodetic surveying to the rest of the Himalayas, which, he says, would provide a "comprehensive and consistent dataset to really look at the difference between glaciers". Using spaceborne data to study a 5,615 sq km section of the Karakoram Range of northern Pakistan and western China, the researchers found an increase in ice thickness of 0.11 (plus or minus 0.22) metres of water equivalent (w.e.) per year between 1999 and 2008. Although small in magnitude, the value is significant because it diverges from best estimates of glacial ice volume change globally and over the entire Himalayan mountain range, which suggest a loss of about 0.4 to 0.8 metres per year. Given the uncertainty in the measurement, "it's not 100 percent sure" that there was really a mass gain, says Tobias Bolch, glaciologist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. But, says Bolch, who was not involved in the study but co-authored a recent review article on the current state of Himalayan glaciers in the journal Science, "what is clear is there is no significant mass loss". The results imply that the Karakoram glaciers might have lowered global sea levels over the period studied, albeit by only 0.006 mm per year. But previous estimates assuming the Karakoram glaciers had behaved like others in the Himalayas that had been better characterized suggested that their expected ice loss would have raised sea level by roughly 10 times as much.
New Delhi, July 9 (IANS) As many as 595 animals, including 17 single-horned rhinos, in Assam's Kaziranga National Park died in the recent floods in the state, the environment ministry said Monday. National Tiger Conservation Authority member M. Firoz Ahmad, sent by the ministry to make a spot appraisal of Kaziranga in the wake of the floods, reported that 595 animals have died in the park due to inundation. Of these maximum causality has been reported among hog deer (512) followed by wild boar (28) and rhinos (17), he said in his report submitted to the ministry. According to the ministry, the report has highlighted the need for relieving the corridor areas from human pressure and avoiding change in land use pattern. The park management has deployed patrolling staff for the protection of wild animals along the highways by creating barriers along with round the clock surveillance, it said.
Hyderabad, July 8 (IANS) Andhra Pradesh Congress chief Botsa Satyanarayana Sunday asked the government to extend legal aid to jailed former minister Mopidevi Venkatramna in YSR Congress Party leader Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy's illegal assets case. A day after the government decided to pay the legal fee of five cabinet ministers facing charges of issuing controversial government orders, Satyanarayana demanded that the government also pay the legal fee of Venkatramna. Botsa, who is the transport minister, said he would write a letter to Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy. The government Saturday decided to pay the legal expenses of Sabita Indra Reddy, J. Geeta Reddy, Dharmana Prasada Rao and Ponnala Lakshmiah. These ministers can engage services of top lawyers and bill the state government for it. The government ignored Venkatramna, who was a cabinet minister when he was arrested by the CBI in May. A total of six ministers were issued notices by the Supreme Court in March asking them why their role should not be probed in issuing the controversial government orders during Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy's tenure. The orders allegedly benefited companies and individuals who made investments into the companies of Jaganmohan Reddy, the son of then chief minister Rajasekhara Reddy. The CBI, which is probing the quid-pro-quo investments, has arrested Venkatramna and questioned home Sabita Indra Reddy, Ponnala Lakshmaiah and Dharmana Prasada Rao. The government has also ignored eight IAS officers who were also issued notices by the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the opposition parties have criticized the government for its decision to reimburse the legal expenses of the five ministers. Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader K. Yerran Naidu alleged that the government was trying to help the ministers under a secret understanding with Jaganmohan Reddy. "It is shameful that the government is defending the ministers who looted public money," he told reporters here Sunday.