New Age Islam
Fri Feb 23 2024, 05:21 AM

Islamic World News ( 3 Oct 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

Bangladesh would not send troops to Afghanistan: Hasina

Fresh moves afoot for out-of-court settlement of Ayodhya issue

Ram temple located in ward represented by Muslim corporator

18 killed in three drone strikes in northwest Pakistan

Blast kills 2 Nato soldiers in Afghanistan

Pak blockade disrupts NATO supplies for fourth day

Kasab's ex-lawyer, Veena Malik to figure in 'Bigg Boss'

No free entry to Taj for CWG visitors

Curfew in Srinagar to scuttle separatist march

BJP serves cyber fraud notice to Congress

Comeback man Musharraf calls Nawaz Sharif 'brainless'

Ahmadinejad says US has 'dragged the world in mud'

Israeli border guard kills Palestinian in Jerusalem

Officials: Three killed in Pakistan over alleged spy ties

Three questioned in Nigeria terror attack that killed 12

Without a chair at the table, Iran seeks influence nonetheless

Iraq sets world record for delay in govt-formation

Separatists instigated violence after Machhil encounter: Omar

Ban asks Israel to cease settlements in West Bank

Gilani Left Red In Face By Zardari

US Sorry For Infecting Guatemalans With Virus

Pak Court Puts Off Decision On Commission For Mumbai Case

Pak & terrorism top CIA chief ’ s Delhi trip

Moderate scholar Dr Farooq shot dead in Mardan

Nato’s stolen combat material seized near Islamabad

No talks until Israel halts settlements, PLO says

Police arrest Saudi who axed mother to death

30-day test run for Makkah metro

Palestinians mull talks walk-out over settlements

Iran arrests 'nuclear spies' accused of cyber attacks

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Bangladesh would not send troops to Afghanistan: Hasina

Oct 03 2010

Dhaka : Bangladesh has made it clear it will not send its troops to Afghanistan while refuting reports that the US had requested the country to contribute soldiers to the war-torn nation.

"Bangladesh will not send soldiers to Afghanistan," Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told a meeting of ruling Awami League's advisory council late on Saturday, according to the 'Samakal' newspaper.

Quoting insiders, the newspaper said, Hasina conveyed her government's "precise stand" on sending soldiers to Afghanistan as several members of the council, comprising senior party leaders, opposed the idea of sending combat forces to the war-ravaged nation citing "public sentiments".

Prime Minister's press secretary Abul Kalam Azad could not immediately confirm the premier's comments but the 'Prothom Alo' newspaper supplemented the Samakal report, saying Hasina agreed with the advisory as they said Bangladeshis had a reservation regarding the US military intervention in Afghanistan.

Several newspapers earlier reported that US Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke last week requested Bangladesh to send combat troops to Afghanistan at a meeting with foreign minister Dipu Moni on the sidelines of the 65th UN General Assembly, also attended by Hasina.

A foreign office statement published on Sunday, however, said the US envoy had asked for Bangladesh's cooperation in Afghanistan's rebuilding "but there was no discussion about sending troops to Afghanistan".

"We said Bangladesh can contribute to the national development of Afghanistan through providing training to officials in administration, police, education and some other sectors," the statement quoted Moni as telling Holbrooke.

According to the statement the foreign minister also said Bangladesh sent troops to different United Nations blue helmet missions "as peacekeepers" under the UN supervision and it will think over the issue if the UN took any such projects

in Afghanistan.

Several foreign policy experts in the country have also expressed reservations against sending combat forces to Afghanistan.

Former foreign secretary Faruque Chowdhury said: "it would be contrary to Bangladesh's foreign policy while both the countries, moreover, were members of the South Asian regional grouping of SAARC and had an historic link since the medieval age".

"It will be a suicidal decision... the Afghan issue was made a military issue in someone's interest and Bangladesh does not have any reason to be party to it," Chowdhury said.


Fresh moves afoot for out-of-court settlement of Ayodhya issue

Oct 3, 2010

AYODHYA: Fresh moves appear to be afoot to resolve the Ayodhya dispute out of court, three days after the Allahabad High Court verdict in the case.

Mohammad Hashim Ansari, one of the main litigants in the title suits, on Sunday met Mahant Gyan Das of Hanumanghari who is also President of Akhil Bhartiya Akhara Parishad to explore the possibility of an amicable solution.

Though Mahant Gyan Das refused to divulge details, 90-year-old Ansari said: "I have initiated the move after being asked by the Sunni Central Wakf Board."

During an hour-long closed door meeting between Gyan Das and Ansari at Hanumanghari, famous Lord Hanuman temple near the makeshift temple on the disputed site, discussions revolved around ways to chalk out an agreement on the 60-year-old temple-mosque dispute.

"Akhil Bhartiya Akhara Parishad will play the role of a mediator and Gyan Das will talk with Nirmohi Akhara (another key party in the dispute)," Ansari told PTI, adding that the Akhara President was ready for this.

"This issue will be decided in Ayodhya itself and time for an amicable solution has come," he added.

Waqf Board counsel Zafaryab Gilani, however, said he was not aware of any such move. The Board had said they would challenge the verdict in the Supreme Court.

Nirmohi Akahara, Vaishnavite sect among the Hindus, has been given one-third of the disputed site in Ayodhya by the Allahabad High Court in its majority verdict on Thursday.

The other two-thirds portion has been given equally to be shared by the Wakf Board and the side representing Ram Lalla (baby Lord Ram).

The Nirmohi Akhara's share will include that part which is shown by the words 'Ram Chabutra' and 'Sita Rasoi' in the outer periphery of the site.

Soon after the verdict, Ansari had called for burying the dispute and making "a fresh start", a view shared by 84-year-old Mahant Bhaskar Das of Nirmohi Akhara.


Ram temple located in ward represented by Muslim corporator

Oct 03 2010

Ayodhya : After all the bitterness over the disputed site in Ayodhya, the area in which the makeshift Ram temple is located in this town is represented by a Muslim in the municipality for the past 15 years.

Haji Asad, the corporator of Ramkot ward in this temple town in Uttar Pradesh, says both Hindus and Muslims have been voting for him for the past 15 years and there is no division between them.

"The dispute of the Ramjanambhoomi-Babri Masjid would have been solved much earlier had the political parties not played divisive politics," he said.

"I represent the Ramkot ward, where the makeshift Ram temple exists and I get the support of all irrespective of their communities," he said.

Interestingly, besides make Ram temple, famous Hanuman Gari is also located in his ward, which has a mixed population of Hindus and Muslims.

"People from all communities vote for me and that is the reason I have represented the ward for such a long time," Asad said.

Be it marriage or any other ceremony, people of all castes and religion gather and there is no feeling of hatred among them, the corporator said.

About the High Court decision, Asad said they welcomed it but feels that the issue would linger on due to vote bank politics.

"The government should intervene to end the dispute, which is flared by politicians. At the ground we all live with harmony," Haji Asad said.

There are many examples of Hindu-Muslim unity in this temple town where there are many mosques, which are being protected and taken care of by Hindus, whenever needed, a local said.

One Mohammad Shariq, who has cremated 1,500 unclaimed bodies -- both of Hindus and Muslims -- is continuing on his mission without caste or religion bias.

Also, Ashraf Ali, who owns a flower shop near Ashari Bhawan, supplies flowers and garlands to temples and this is his main source of income.

Locals say the ground situation in Ayodhya is not visible to people outside due to statements issued by political parties on the issue.


18 killed in three drone strikes in northwest Pakistan

Oct 2, 2010

PESHAWAR: Three US drone strikes in Pakistan's volatile northwest killed at least 18 suspected militants on Saturday amid escalating tensions between the two countries over the killing of three Pakistani soldiers in a NATO strike.

The drones carried out two back-to-back attacks at Datta Khel in North Waziristan Agency, an area near the Afghan border that has been repeatedly targeted by the drones since last month.

In the first attack, two pilotless spy planes fired three missiles at a militant hideout, killing nine suspected militants.

Three more suspected militants were killed in the second attack, which was carried out at the same site as people gathered to pull the dead and injured out of the militant compound.

The third drone strike targeted a vehicle in the same area, killing six suspected militants.

The dead and wounded included foreign fighters but it was not clear whether any high-profile militant was among those killed.

US drones have carried out nearly two dozen attacks on al Qaida and Taliban elements in Waziristan since early September, and media reports have said the sudden surge in missile strikes was linked to the uncovering of a terror plot to target key European cities.

Pakistani authorities have resisted pressure from the US and its allies to launch a military campaign in North Waziristan, which is a key base for the Haqqani network and commanders Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Mulla Nazir.

Islamabad has halted the transportation of supplies to US-led forces in Afghanistan after three Pakistani soldiers were killed in a recent air strike by NATO helicopters.

Pakistan protested against the attack, describing it as a violation of its sovereignty.


Blast kills 2 Nato soldiers in Afghanistan

03 Oct, 2010

KABUL: Two soldiers from Nato’s International Security Assistance Force

were killed in a bomb explosion in eastern Afghan-istan, the alliance said on Saturday.

Nato did not release the nationalities of the soldiers, but the incident took the number of foreign troops killed in the war so far this year to 551 — the deadliest on record.

“Two ISAF service members died following an improvised explosive device (IED) attack in eastern Afghanistan yesterday (Friday),” a Nato statement said.

Homemade bombs cause the majority of casualties among foreign and Afghan troops fighting the Taliban.

On Friday a roadside bomb ripped through a vehicle in Shah Wali Kot district of southern Kandahar province, killing two civilians and wounding four others, an official statement said.

Separately six insurgents were killed on Friday in a joint Afghan and Nato operation in Zahri district of Kandahar.

In neighbouring Uruzgan province five insurgents were killed in an airstrike over-night, provincial police chief Juma Gul Himat told AFP.


Pak blockade disrupts NATO supplies for fourth day

Oct 03 2010

Peshawar : Pakistan's blockade of a key land route to Afghanistan disrupted crucial NATO fuel supplies for a fourth consecutive day on Sunday, leaving scores of trucks and tankers stranded at the frontier.

Pakistan blockaded the main land route for fuel and logistic supplies for US-led forces in Afghanistan after three Pakistani soldiers were killed in a NATO air strike this week.


Supplies to NATO and foreign troops in Afghanistan via the Torkhum border post in northwest Pakistan continued to be suspended, and long queues of trucks and tankers were seen at the frontier.

Around 24 oil tankers and 126 containers were waiting at the Torkhum post in Khyber tribal region, said Assistant Political Agent, Azam Jan Khalil.

NATO convoys that could not reach Torkhum have stopped in different areas near Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa capital Peshawar.

Khalil said he had not received any order from competent authorities to allow the NATO supplies to cross over to Afghanistan.

"We are bound to ensure the security of the NATO supplies on our side and we have taken all proper measures to this effect," he said.

However, sources said the owners and drivers of the vehicles were worried about the possibility of attacks particularly after an assault at Shikarpur in southern Sindh province on Friday that resulted in the destruction of 28 trucks and tankers.

The Torkhum route was closed for supplies to Afghanistan on Thursday after NATO helicopters attacked a Pakistani border outpost in Kurram tribal region, killing three soldiers.

Pakistan, NATO and the US are conducting a joint investigation into the incident, which Islamabad described as a violation of its sovereignty.

Officials have sought to create the impression that the supply convoys have been stopped to ensure they are not attacked due to anger over the air strikes.

Pakistan's envoy to the US Hussain Haqqani said Pakistan and NATO are working through their disagreement over the air strike that killed Pakistani soldiers and the supply route to Afghanistan will be re-opened as soon as safety is ensured for convoys passing through the Khyber Pass.

"We are working through our disagreement. NATO and ISAF have agreed to conduct an inquiry about the incident. And I think, as soon as we can ensure the security of the convoys moving through the Khyber Pass, we will have them moving again," Haqqani told CNN.

The highway passing through Khyber Agency is the main NATO supply route to Afghanistan, where over 150,000 US and allied troops are fighting the Taliban.







Kasab's ex-lawyer, Veena Malik to figure in 'Bigg Boss'

Oct 3, 2010

The fourth season of 'Bigg Boss' goes on air from tonight and we have a list of contestants that audiences will be watching for the next three months inside the house. While Pamela Anderson's name does not figure on the list, it still has quite a few entertaining and controversial ones, beginning with Kasab's former lawyer.


Abbas Kazmi

It will be interesting to see what Kasab's ex-lawyer does inside the 'Bigg Boss' house. He will have some interesting nuggets about the most dreaded terrorist the country has ever seen.

Veena Malik

The Pakistani actress is in the news for leaking out the betting scandal that involved ex-boyfriend Mohammed Asif. Malik was all over news channels giving interviews about how Asif was linked to bookies in India and is involved in match-fixing. She is said to be the Rakhi Sawant of Pakistan.

Manoj Tiwari

Another Bhojpuri superstar in 'Bigg Boss' after Ravi Kishen who had everything to gain from season one. He is also going through a separation from his wife Rani, and the presence of Shweta Tiwari with whom he was linked, will be interesting to watch.

Sakshi Pradhan

The splitsvilla girl from last year's show was in the news for an MMS allegedly of her that was leaked by someone on the show. She was suddenly the talk of the town, but went missing after that.

Rahul Bhatt

Mahesh Bhatt's son, who was supposed to be launched as an actor in an Anurag Basu film, was involved in a very big controversy. Rahul was seen with Headley and had to go through series of interrogations after the 26/11 terror attacks.

Sameer Soni

Soni was just seen in Karan Johar's film I Hate Luv Storys. A failed Bollywood debut and a couple of soaps later, Soni was talked about when his ex-girlfriend Nafisa Joseph ended her life a couple of years back. He is currently dating actress Neelam.

Begum Nawazish Ali

Ali Saleem Khusra, born a male, is the famous cross dresser Begum Nawazish Ali, a chat show host on a Pakistani channel. She is the second Pakistani after Veena on 'Bigg Boss'.

Ashmit Patel

shmit made his big Bollywood debut with Vikram Bhatt's Inteha. However the film tanked without a trace and so did Ashmit's career. He had his 15 minutes of fame for a controversial MMS scandal with then girlfriend Ria Sen and his family feud with Amisha.

Sara Khan

Sara shot to fame on the small screen with her show Bidaai. She became a huge star on TV and got many offers of reality shows. She opted out of the show after it took a leap a couple of months back.

Shweta Tiwari

One of the top actresses on television, but jobless for some time now. Her relationship with ex-husband Raja Chowdhury and the public display of their problems makes her all the more controversial.

Bunty the thief

People raised eyebrows when they heard about the name of Bunty in 'Bigg Boss'. On the most wanted list of Delhi cops at one point of time, Bunty is famous now, especially after Dibakar Banerji made a film on him, 'Oye Lucky Lucky Oye'.

Aanchal Kumar

The 'Bigg Boss' team has gone back to their original formula of casting a top model on the show (remember carol Gracious). However there is no controversy attached to Aanchal. But she will be eye candy.

Seema Parihar

The real life dacoit, was known as another bandit Queen, as she was known to have killed over 70 people. She surrendered some years agos and a film was made on her life, titled Wounded. There are still many cases regarding her pending at various courts.

Hrishant Goswami

Hrishant is a model originally from Jammu and Kashmir. He completed his schooling from US and Nigeria. He has won the 2004 Gladrags Manhunt Contest.


No free entry to Taj for CWG visitors

Oct 3, 2010

AGRA: Commonwealth Games athletes and officials visiting the Taj Mahal here have not been exempted from buying entrance tickets, an official said.

"The railways catering corporation has made the arrangements. They will buy the tickets in advance and give these to the visitors. Visitors from SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) nations will have to pay Rs.550 while other foreign tourists will have to pay Rs.750," Shamshuddin, president of the Agra Guides Association, told IANS.

The Uttar Pradesh tourism department has hired 30 guides to accompany the visitors to the Taj - a mausoleum Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built in 1653 in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal.

"The eastern gate of the Taj Mahal has been reserved for the CWG visitors while general public will have to use the western and southern entrance gates," an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) official said.


Curfew in Srinagar to scuttle separatist march

Oct 3, 2010

SRINAGAR: Authorities on Sunday imposed curfew in Srinagar and other major towns in north Kashmir to scuttle a proposed separatist march.

"Curfew has been imposed in Srinagar city and towns of Baramulla district today (Sunday)while restrictions shall remain in force in major towns of south Kashmir," a senior police officer said here.

"The decision to impose curfew has been taken to prevent violence by miscreants and anti-social elements," he added.

Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani, who has been spearheading the 'Quit Kashmir' campaign for nearly four months now, has asked people to march to north Kashmir Baramulla town.

Sunday's separatist march is part of the protest calendar Geelani has been issuing on a weekly basis for the last four months.

So far, 109 people have lost their lives because of the ongoing unrest in the Valley that began June 11.


BJP serves cyber fraud notice to Congress

Oct 3, 2010

NEW DELHI: It is a minor political war in cyber space. An angry Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has alleged that the Congress party "bought" a website mimicking the BJP's own which re-directed all hits to the All India Congress Committee (AICC) site. The BJP has served a legal notice, an official said on Sunday.

"Yes, we have served a legal notice," a BJP official said.

The BJP was worried over low hits to its website on Sep 30, the day the Ayodhya verdict was out. Those who tried to visit the BJP website were disappointed as it was re-directed to, said a party official.

Party officials said a "cyber case legal notice" was sent to the AICC headquarters here Friday. The BJP's website is

The BJP alleges that the AICC "bought" a website from a foreigner to "mislead" the people visiting its website.

According to the BJP, more than 40 lakh hits were received on the '' site on Sep 30, and users were automatically redirected to the AICC site.

The private website is owned by Bharat Janata Prakashan, allege BJP officials.


Comeback man Musharraf calls Nawaz Sharif 'brainless'

Oct 3, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who in 1999 overthrew the government of Nawaz Sharif, believes the two-time premier lacks intellect and is "totally brainless".

Musharraf, who launched his All Pakistan Muslim League in the UK and announced his return to active politics said Sharif lost power twice as he lacked intellect.

" Nawaz Sharif lost power twice because he lacked intellect," Musharraf, who also apologised to the people for the mistakes of his regime, told hundreds of supporters in Birmingham last evening.

"I worked with him for an entire year and noticed that Nawaz Sharif is totally brainless," Musharraf was quoted as saying by the News International.

Musharraf said his party -- All Pakistan Muslim League -- would be accountable to people and have a democratic structure where power would not be inherited.

"If voted to power, we will be accountable to the people. Our party will have a democratic structure and power will not be inherited," he said.

Sharif, who was thrown out by Musharraf in a bloodless coup, is considered a bitter foe of the former president.

Outside the venue of the rally, a few hundred members of pan-Islamic body Hizbut Tahrir gathered in a peaceful protest.

Some held banners that read "Pakistan needs an accountable ruler" while others hit Musharraf's posters with footwears.


Ahmadinejad says US has 'dragged the world in mud'

Oct 3, 2010,

TEHRAN: Iran's hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad launched a vitriolic tirade against the United States and Israel on Sunday as he cast fresh doubt on the September 11 attacks, state media reported.

"They have such nerve to threaten us and say all options are on the table. May the undertaker take you, your tables... away as you have dragged the world in mud," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying in a speech.

The US and Israel accuse Iran of seeking nuclear weapons and have never ruled out a military strike to curb Tehran's atomic drive. Iran maintains its atomic programme has peaceful aims.

"We have hundreds of unanswered questions about the September 11 incident to which they should respond, and we will not back down on this," Ahmadinejad said in the speech marking the start of a housing project outside Tehran.

"If they claim 3,000 people were killed on September 11, they (the perpetrators) should be identified and executed.

"We will even help in their arrest provided they present evidence, but will not accept whatever Bush and Obama say," he said referring to former US president George W Bush and his successor Barack Obama.

"Even the Americans themselves do not accept these claims, let alone other nations."

Last month Ahmadinejad sparked outrage in the United States and around the world when he accused the US government of involvement in the September 11, 2001 attacks in a speech to the UN General Assembly.

Obama slammed the remarks as "hateful" and "offensive." Ahmadinejad has already drawn international condemnation by repeatedly casting doubt on the Nazi Holocaust since coming to power in 2005.

Today he branded Iran's arch-foe Israel a "savage dog unleashed in the region."


No takers for Musharraf?

Oct 3, 2010

ISLAMABAD: The announcement of the launch of a new political party — All Pakistan Muslim League — by former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf in London has drawn a hostile response both at home and abroad.

Pakistan Muslim League (N) information secretary Ahsan Iqbal said that "Musharraf was ousted because he did not enjoy support of the masses". "He was a dictator who sneaked into power through a military coup and will have to face charges against him on return," said Iqbal, whose party's government was toppled as a result of the coup in October 1999.

Protesters also gathered in Birmingham, England, on Saturday ahead of a political rally to be addressed by Musharraf. The Islamist political organization Hizb ut-Tahrir gathered outside the rally venue, holding banners that read "Pakistan needs an accountable ruler."

Musharraf, during his launch speech on Friday, had admitted that mistakes were committed during his regime. He had also termed promulgation of national reconciliation ordinance, which paved the way for return of exiled leader Benazir Bhutto to Pakistan, as one of those wrong moves that turned the tide against him.

Interior minister Rehman Malik, however, dismissed the claim of Musharraf. "There was no such deal between Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto," he stressed.


Israeli border guard kills Palestinian in Jerusalem

Oct 3, 2010

JERUSALEM: An Israeli border guard on Sunday killed a Palestinian who tried to grab his gun when detained while trying to cross into east Jerusalem from the West Bank, a police official said.

The man was apprehended along with a group of Palestinians before he was shot and killed by the border guard, the police source said on condition of anonymity.

His neighbours later identified him as Ezzedine Kawasba, 38, a father of five from a small village outside the West Bank town of Hebron. They said he was a labourer who worked in Israel illegally.

Thousands of Palestinians sneak into Israel each day from the West Bank in search of work despite Israel's separation barrier, a network of walls and fences that snakes across the territory and through annexed east Jerusalem.

On September 22, clashes erupted in Jerusalem after a Jewish settlement guard shot dead a Palestinian during a confrontation in a tense neighbourhood in the annexed Arab eastern part of the city.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed it in a move not recognised by the international community. It views the entire city as its "eternal, undivided" capital.

The Palestinians have demanded east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, and the city's future status remains one of the most intractable issues in the decades-old Middle East conflict.


Officials: Three killed in Pakistan over alleged spy ties

From Frederik Pleitgen

October 3, 2010

Three bullet-riddled bodies were found in northwest Pakistan on Sunday with letters attached to them stating they were killed for being spies, two Pakistani security officials told CNN.

The bodies were in the town of Miranshah in North Waziristan. The notes claimed they were "spies" for the U.S. and Pakistani militaries, the officials said.

They did not want to be named because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

North Waziristan is one of seven districts in Pakistan's volatile tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

A series of suspected drone attacks have targeted insurgents in the region.

While the United States is the only country in the region known to have the ability to launch missiles from remote-controlled drones, U.S. officials do not comment on suspected drone strikes.

Security analysts have described North Waziristan as a haven for various factions of Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, and al Qaeda militants.

The majority of reported strikes this year have hit targets in the district, analysts said.


Three questioned in Nigeria terror attack that killed 12

October 3, 2010

"The security forces were also warned one full hour to the first bomb blast ahead of the general alert sent to the media and told to steer the public from all parked cars which was not done," the statement continued.

The attack came as the West African country celebrated 50 years of independence.

The International Committee of the Red Cross appealed for blood donations to assist the wounded.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan later called the action a terror attack that was designed to "disrupt" the anniversary, said presidential spokesman Imo Niboro. But he said it had nothing to do with Niger Delta issues or MEND.

MEND, which represents militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta, is an umbrella organization of several rebel groups. It has been battling the government for years over fairer distribution of the country's oil wealth.

MEND said Henry Okah, who many say is an influential member of the group, had been harassed by authorities in South Africa, where he lives.

"Okah has never been involved in any MEND operations but has always been blamed for every attack which is strange to us," MEND's statement said.

"They (Nigerian security forces) were given 5 days prior notice (about the attack) which led to the harassment of Henry Okah on Thursday, September 30 in South Africa," the group said.


Without a chair at the table, Iran seeks influence nonetheless

By Eve Bower

October 3, 2010

Iran's leadership has made clear its intent to play an enhanced role in Mideast regional affairs amid troubled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as indicated by a series of high-level visits with regional allies.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected to make his first official visit to Lebanon since assuming office in 2005, according to Iranian state media. The visit is scheduled to begin October 13.

On Saturday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made a one-day official visit to the Iranian capital of Tehran, where he met with Ahmadinejad and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Saturday's visit marked the Syrian leader's eighth visit to Iran, and his fifth during Ahmadinejad's presidency, said Iran's Fars News Agency.

In a meeting with Assad on Saturday, Ahmadinejad said, "The current regional situation is changing in favor of regional nations," according to Iran's Press TV. Ahmadinejad also awarded his Syrian counterpart with Iran's highest national medal "for his resistance against arrogant powers, defense of the rights of the Palestinian and Lebanese nations, and his key role in the stability and tranquility of regional countries," according to Press TV. In a separate meeting of the two nations' foreign ministers, Iran's Manouchehr Mottaki and Syria's Walid al-Muallem signed a free trade agreement, Iran's state media reported.

Military links have been at the fore of Iranian state media coverage of recent and upcoming talks between Iran and Lebanese leaders. During the recent U.N. General Assembly meetings, where Ahmadinejad met with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, Fars reported that "Zionists' plots and conspiracies for sowing discord ... have necessitated an increase in cooperation and coordination between Iran and Lebanon."

On the same day, Fars reported Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah as saying, "Lebanon must ask for help from countries that are willing to sell arms to Beirut without any conditions," apparently referencing a recent move by the U.S. Congress to withhold $100 million of military aid for Lebanon after a border clash between Israel and Lebanon.

One week later, Lebanese Energy Minister Gebran Bassil said "Iran has now announced readiness to equip [the] Lebanese army without any conditions," according to the Iranian state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.

IRNA also reported "expressed hope" from Lebanese politician Wiam Wahab that the timing of Ahmadinejad's visit to Lebanon would "encourage the regional countries to support the resistance against the Zionist regime, especially at the present time when the Palestinian Authority and Israel were going back to direct talks."

Some have seen Ahmadinejad's planned visit as an unwelcome display of Iranian influence in the peace talks.

Lebanon's National News Agency quoted Fares Souaid, the secretary-general of Lebanon's March 14 alliance, as saying the Iranian president's visit sends "a message that means to say that Iran is at the border of Israel! ... While the Palestinians and Israelis are negotiating, the Iranian president wants to stress that Lebanon is a land where resistance is exercised and war against Israel is possible. He wants to remind the international community that Israel's security is in the hands of Iran through its relations with Hamas and Hezbollah -- and hence, he says to the world, you must negotiate with us."




Iraq sets world record for delay in govt-formation

Oct 3, 2010

BAGHDAD: Iraq has broken the world record for the amount of time taken to form a new government.

In 1977, it took 208 days for Dutch politicians to agree to a coalition. Iraqis look set to take a good deal longer, as more negotiations are needed to resolve March's inconclusive election result.

Attempts by Nouri al-Maliki to form a new government could be weeks, if not months, away from fruition because the prime minister is struggling to secure support from Kurdish and Sunni factions.

maliki was picked on Friday as the nominee for the top government job from his Shi'ite-led National Alliance after he secured support from Moqtada al-Sadr, an anti-American Shi'ite cleric.

But the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc is threatening to boycott a Maliki government at a time when Iraq is struggling to tame insurgent violence.


Separatists instigated violence after Machhil encounter: Omar

Oct 03 2010

Srinagar : Jammu and Kashmir government has blamed the separatists for instigating a cycle of violence in Kashmir Valley over the last four months following the death of three persons allegedly in a fake encounter in Machhil.

"Kashmir Valley has witnessed a cycle of violence instigated by the separatists over the alleged human rights violations with specific reference to the death of three persons, who were allegedly killed in a fake encounter at Machhil, Kupwara," Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who also holds the Home portfolio, said in a written reply to a question in the legislative assembly on Friday.

He said in the aftermath of the April 30 Machhil encounter, separatists launched a secessionist movement which led to the outbreak of violent protest all across the Kashmir Valley.

The Chief Minister said the subsequent civilian casualties during the engagements between the protesters and the security forces flared up the situation.

Government put the number of civilians killed from May this year to September 21 at 98, saying 537 civilians were injured during the same period.

The Chief Minister said Government property worth cores of rupees has been damaged or set ablaze during the ongoing unrest in the valley.

"So far, as the tax collections are concerned, the impact of the disruption in normal trading activity on these collections and the resultant loss to the state exchequer shall be known at the end of October as traders are required to remit tax on quarterly basis," he said while responding to queries pertaining to losses caused by the unrest.

The Army has so far removed a commanding officer Colonel D K Pathania and suspended his second in command Major Upendra Singh.


Ban asks Israel to cease settlements in West Bank

Oct 03 2010

United Nations : UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked Israel to extend settlement freeze in the West Bank, amid fears that end of the moratorium could prompt Palestine to pull out of direct peace talks with the Jewish state.

A moratorium on settlements expired on September 26 and despite facing pressure from the international community, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not yet extended the freeze policy.

In a telephonic conversation with Netanyahu, Ban "renewed his hope that the Government of Israel would extend its settlement restraint policy and underscored the need to create a conducive environment for successful negotiations, a statement issued from his office said.

He reiterated his belief that negotiations are the only way for Israel and the Palestinians to resolve all final status issues and realise their aspirations," the statement said.

Ban separately also called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Senator George Mitchell, US Envoy for the Middle East.

Ban "welcomed continuing US efforts to sustain direct talks and offered his continued support to efforts to promote peace" and "encouraged Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas to continue their efforts to find a way forward," the statement said.

Israel's refusal to extend the moratorium seen as a snub to the Obama administration, has been slammed by the international community which has appealed to the Israeli authorities several times to stop making illegal settlements that could jeopardise the peace process.

Meanwhile, Tzipi Livni, the leader of the main opposition party Kadmia, has asked Netanyahu to push the peace process forward instead of his own political clear, according to the 'Jerusalem Post'.

Netanyahu "must choose the real long-term interests of Israel rather than his own personal political interests," Livni said.

"Netanyahu knows the possibility of making decisions that will ensure continued negotiations is in his hands and that Kadima will support any decision that facilitates the talks and strengthens Israel's security interests," she added.

Meanwhile, Palestinian leaders who met in the West Bank today supported a suspension of peace talks until the construction activity did not stop.


Gilani Left Red In Face By Zardari

Oct 03rd, 2010

Islamabad, Oct. 2: The Pakistan Prime Minister, Mr Yousaf Raza Gilani, who was nearly shown the doors in the recent political crises, faced another embarrassment at the hands of the President, Mr Asif Ali Zardari, when he issued a “secret ordinance” which even Mr Gilani was not aware of.

The secret ordinance promulgated by President Zardari on September 16 exploded in both the Houses of Parliament on Friday, embarrassing the Prime Minister in the National Assembly, forcing an Opposition walkout from the Senate and splitting the ruling PPP.

Enraged members of both the Houses blamed the government for playing tricks with Parliament and Mr Gilani was caught unawares as he had no clue that such an ordinance had been sent to the President for promulgation under his signatures two weeks’ back.

He was confused and rattled by the unexpected manipulation by his law ministry and promised to rectify any wrong done.

Mr Gilani said under the law, the President had to consult leaders of the House and the Opposition for appointment of chairman NAB. Under the new ordinance, the law minister, Mr Babar Awan, will exercise the powers of NAB chairman.


US Sorry For Infecting Guatemalans With Virus

Oct 03rd, 2010

Washington, Oct. 1: The United States apologised on Friday for an experiment conducted in the 1940s in which US government researchers deliberately infected Guatemalan prison inmates, women and mental patients with syphilis.

In the experiment, aimed at testing the then — new drug penicillin, inmates were infected by prostitutes and later treated with the antibiotic.

“The sexually transmitted disease inoculation study conducted from 1946-1948 in Guatemala was clearly unethical,” the secretary of state, Ms Hillary Clinton, and the health and human services secretary, Ms Kathleen Sebelius, said in a statement.

“Although these events occurred more than 64 years ago, we are outraged that such reprehensible research could have occurred under the guise of public health. We deeply regret that it happened, and we apologise to all the individuals who were affected by such abhorrent research practices,” the statement said.

Guatemala condemned the experiment as a crime against humanity and said it would study whether there were grounds to take the case to an international court.

“President Alvaro Colom considers these experiments crimes against humanity and Guatemala reserves the right to denounce them in an international court,” said a government statement, which announced a commission to investigate the matter.

Guatemalan human rights activists called for the victims’ families to be compensated, but a US official said it was not clear there would be any compensation.

The US President, Mr Barack Obama, called Mr Colom to offer his personal apology for what had happened, a White House spokesman said.

The experiment was uncovered by Ms Susan Reverby, a professor at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. “In addition to the penitentiary, the studies took place in an insane asylum and an Army barracks,” she said.


Pak Court Puts Off Decision On Commission For Mumbai Case

Oct 02nd, 2010

A Pakistani anti-terrorism court conducting the trial of LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and six others charged with involvement in the Mumbai attacks on Saturday put off a decision on the government's request to form a commission to interview key witnesses in India.

Judge Malik Muhammad Akram Awan of the Rawalpindi-based anti-terrorism court asked the prosecution to inform him whether the Indian government has granted permission for the commission to visit that country to interview 24 witnesses, including lone surviving Mumbai attacker Ajmal Kasab.

The prosecution told the judge that the government has received India's "verbal" assent for the commission's visit but Awan said this was not adequate. Awan said the prosecution should inform him at the next hearing on October 16 on whether Indian authorities have granted permission in writing for the commission to visit India.

The prosecution's application for obtaining voice samples of the seven suspects will no longer be part of the proceedings though there was confusion on whether the judge had rejected it or it was withdrawn by the prosecution. The trial is being conducted in-camera and the media is barred from reporting on the proceedings.

The court accepted an application filed by defence lawyers seeking key documents related to several Indian witnesses named in the fourth chargesheet filed recently by the prosecution. These witnesses include doctors who performed autopsies on victims of the 2008 Mumbai attacks and defence lawyers sought copies of post-mortem and medico-legal reports.

The judge also took up the defence lawyers' earlier request for the trial to be opened up to the media and directed the prosecution to inform him about the government's stand on this issue at the next hearing.

At an earlier hearing, prosecution lawyers had told the court that they would have to consult the government on allowing the media to cover the proceedings as the case involved issues of a sensitive nature related to national security.

Though the hearings of the case are usually held within the heavily guarded Adiala Jail, where the suspects are being detained, today's proceedings were conducted in Judge Awan's courtroom.

Interior minister Rehman Malik recently said that the trial of the Pakistani suspects was stalled and it was imperative to form the commission to go to India to record the testimony of key witnesses like Ajmal Kasab, magistrate R.V. Sawant Waghule, who recorded Kasab's confessional statement, and police officer Ramesh Mahale, who led the probe into the attacks.


Pak & terrorism top CIA chief ’ s Delhi trip

By Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury in New Delhi

CENTRAL Intelligence Agency ( CIA) chief Leon Panetta made an unscheduled visit to India ahead of US President Barack Obama’s November visit.

The US President will discuss the status of counter- terror cooperation, the Af- Pak situation and the recent foiled terror plot in Europe that originated in Pakistan and had Lashkar- e- Tayyeba- Taliban links.

Panetta’s visit to Delhi on Friday was kept under wraps and out of media glare.

Panetta reportedly met home minister P. Chidambaram and top security and intelligence officials including Intelligence Bureau chief Rajiv Mathur, Research and Analysis Wing chief K. C. Verma and Union home secretary G. K. Pillai.

The urgency of Panetta’s visit can also be gauged from the fact that it was undertaken in the absence of national security adviser Shiv Shankar Menon, who is in the US preparing for Obama’s visit.

It is understood that the two sides held wide- ranging discussions on counter- terror and counter- intelligence cooperation, the Af- Pak situation and New Delhi’s concerns about Pakistan’s support to anti- India terror groups in the region including in Afghanistan.

According to the White House, the current situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan and counter- terror cooperation By Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury in New Delhi CIA boss Leon Panetta was in Delhi on Friday.

will be important aspects of Obama’s trip.

American intelligence agencies and their Indian counterparts are increasingly involved in sharing real- time information post 26/ 11, according to experts. One of the recent successes include busting a visa racket in north Delhi.

The visit also assumed importance in the backdrop of the Commonwealth Games and the attacks near Jama Masjid two weeks ago.

Before coming to Delhi, Panetta visited Pakistan where he met Inter Services Intelligence chief Lt Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha. According to wellplaced sources, Panetta briefed Pasha on what the US intelligence services had unearthed about a series of Mumbai- style attacks planned by the al- Qaeda in cooperation with the Haqqani network and the Lashkar- e- Tayyeba. Panetta also reportedly briefed his Indian interlocutors on this foiled terror attack.

India has strong reservations against accommodating the Haqqani faction in Kabul’s power structure at Pakistan’s behest.

The CIA asked Islamabad to allow expanded permissions to increase the intensity of drone strikes inside Pakistan and allow greater access for the American and international forces operating within the country.

Panetta reportedly told Pasha that the US had taken into custody one of the alleged attackers, a German citizen of Pakistani origin named Siddiqui. The tone of the Panetta- Pasha meeting was reportedly “ tense”, with the latter asking the CIA to keep Pakistan in the loop on revelations about the plot.

The attacks were planned for late November and intelligence agencies of various countries, including European nations, are making efforts to arrest rest of the perpetrators, as the threat has not yet been neutralised.

“ It is a matter of serious concern that most global terror plots have their origin in Pakistan.

This needs to be dealt with firmly,” a source said.

Panetta visited the region within days of the release of investigative scribe Bob Woodward’s book Obama Wars . According to the book, Pasha had admitted to the CIA that his agency was involved in the 26/ 11 attacks. The ISI chief reportedly told the CIA less than a month after the Mumbai attacks that though these were not an authorised operation, they were carried out by “ rogue elements within the ISI”. Panetta visited Pakistan when reports of a military coup have emerged.

Mail Today


Moderate scholar Dr Farooq shot dead in Mardan

By Jamal Hoti

03 Oct, 2010

MARDAN, Oct 2: Dr Mohammad Farooq Khan, a religious scholar and vice-chancellor of Swat Islamic University, was gunned down in his clinic here on Saturday. One of his assistants was also shot dead.

Police quoted eyewitnesses as saying that two armed men entered Dr Khan’s clinic, in Baghdada locality, saying that they were patients. But as soon as they saw the doctor, they opened fire, killing him on the spot.

Dr Farooq’s assistant, Mohammad Saleem, was shot dead by the assailants when he offered resistance. The assailants escaped.

(“One of the attackers fired several shots at Dr Farooq with his pistol. He died on the spot,” Waqif Khan, city police chief, told AFP by telephone.)

Dr Farooq was a psychiatrist by profession. He frequently took part in television talk shows at which he used to criticise militants and described suicide attacks as un-Islamic.

In his student days, he was an active member of the Islami Jamiat-i-Talaba. Later on, he took part in a general election on a Jamaat-i-Islami ticket. However, he was expelled from the Jamaat after writing a book. For some time he also remained associated with the Tehrik-i-Insaf.

President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Owais Ghani and Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti condemned the killing, terming it a great loss for the nation.


Nato’s stolen combat material seized near Islamabad

By Munawer Azeem

03 Oct, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Another godown laden with stolen items of Nato forces, including combat material, was unearthed in the capital’s rural area of Tarnol during a police raid on Saturday night.

Police sources told Dawn that the dealer of the stolen supplies of Nato sold the items to individuals and the large quantity of the items were purchased by militants. Four people were arrested during the raid.

Police had arrested four people and seized Nato items from another godown in the same loclitity on Friday night.

The Saturday raid was conducted in response to information gathered from the accused arrested on Friday.

Police and anti-terrorism squad personnel cordoned off the area of Dhok Paracha in Tarnol and raided the godown in a house and found a large quantity of items used by armed forces.

The seized items were: vehicles–four wheel DG-5 and six wheel DG-3–used as armed personnel carrier, accessories of helicopter, and other vehicles.

Besides, sophisticated equipments used during combat, communication system, wireless sets, heavy duty generators, mounts, motors, plastic boxes, almirahs, filters, vacuum cleaners, kit of mountain divers, stretchers, water bags, senior officer bags, shoes and gloves were also seized.

A senior police officer said that out of the four people arrested on Friday night, two were buyers and the two others owned the godown. The buyers had come from Landi Kotal to purchase generators and some other goods.

The godown owners told police that the transporters of Nato supplies unloaded the goods at their doorstep and any locality as convenient to them.

“Normally the transporters stole some items from the supplies and some times they unload the entire containers,” the officer quoted the accused as saying.

“Whenever, the entire container was stolen for them, the transporters set them in fire on the pretext of Taliban’s attack,” he said.

The officer said the accused revealed that there were more godown in Islamabad and other cities where huge quantity of stolen items of Nato supplies were kept.

He said the transporters get handsome amount to steal the goods from the supplies. He said the area was under police surveillance, which conducted search operation to unearth remaining godown in the locality.


No talks until Israel halts settlements, PLO says

03 Oct, 2010

RAMALLAH, West Bank: Direct talks with Israel will not resume unless it halts the building of Jewish settlements on occupied land, the Palestinian leadership said on Saturday.

US-backed peace talks, launched a month ago in Washington, were plunged into crisis this week by the end of a 10-month Israeli moratorium on new settlement building in the West Bank. Israel has said it will not extend the freeze.

“The resumption of talks requires tangible steps, the first of them a freeze on settlements,” Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official, said after a meeting of the body’s executive committee in Ramallah.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have held three rounds of face-to-face negotiations since Sept. 2.

“The Palestinian leadership holds Israel responsible for obstructing the negotiations,” added Abed Rabbo. Abbas, head of the PLO, chaired the meeting.

The end of the settlement freeze had been flagged as an early stumbling block facing US President Barack Obama’s attempt to reach a Middle East peace deal within a year. Israel carried out the freeze under US pressure.

Abbas had said he would pull out of direct talks if Israel did not extend the freeze. The PLO statement said the Palestinians would discuss their next steps with the Arab League’s peace process committee at a meeting on Oct. 8 in Libya.

“The Palestinian calculation is that the Americans will continue their efforts to try to bring about a formula that may be acceptable to the Palestinian side,” said George Giacaman, a political scientist at Birzeit University near Ramallah.

“I would not say that the process has ended. The American administration will continue pursuing the matter.”

Biblical past

Palestinians say the growth of the settlements, on land Israel has occupied since 1967, will render impossible the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the stated goal of the peace talks.

About 500,000 Jews have settled on territory where the Palestinians hope to establish their state with East Jerusalem as its capital. To Israel, the West Bank is “Judea and Samaria,” where the Jews trace their biblical past.

Netanyahu, whose coalition government is dominated by pro-settlement parties including his own Likud, has said he will not extend the construction moratorium, which expired on Monday.

An official quoted Netanyahu on Friday as saying it had not been easy to freeze construction for the past 10 months and that he had lived up to his commitments to the Palestinians, the United States and the international community.

“Now I expect the Palestinians to show some flexibility,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying. “Everyone knows that measured and restrained building in Judea and Samaria in the coming year will have no influence on the peace map.”

Obama’s envoy George Mitchell shuttled between Abbas and Netanyahu for two days this week. The sides agreed to keep talking via Mitchell, the way they had communicated before the launch of the direct talks.

“So far, efforts have reached a dead end,” Nabil Abu Rdainah, spokesman for Abbas, said on his way out of the PLO meeting. Abbas had informed Mitchell of the Palestinian position during their meeting on Friday, he said.

“There will be no negotiations in the shadow of continued settlement,” Abu Rdainah said.

“All the while Israel is not convinced that the political process be based on international law and justice, matters will remain in a state of paralysis for a long time.”


Police arrest Saudi who axed mother to death


Oct 2, 2010

JEDDAH: A 27-year-old Saudi man who allegedly killed his mother with an ax was arrested by police on Saturday in the south Jeddah district of Muntazahat.

“The man is not in the correct state of mind and we’re waiting for a medical report that will tell us more about him and his mental status,” said Col. Misfer Al-Juaid, spokesman for Jeddah police.

“Until then, he will be kept in a cell and treated like any other criminal … He already has a file at the mental hospital in Taif but we still need to contact them for confirmation,” he said.

The man murdered his mother by hitting her in the head on Wednesday in the Muntazahat district of the city.

He had threatened to kill both his parents on several occasions in the past, according to his father.

The man fled before police arrived at the scene after they were alerted by neighbors. Officials immediately cordoned off the place and forensic experts were called to gather evidence.

After it became almost certain that the woman’s son was the prime suspect in the murder, police launched a manhunt and circulated a description of the individual.

Director of Jeddah Police Maj. Gen. Ali Muhammad Al-Ghamdi personally supervised the investigation.

The suspect’s father had complained to the police about the unruly behavior of his son.

He told the officials that his son used to threaten him and his wife if they failed to meet his demands.

“It seems the youth had an argument with his mother before he murdered her. His father had contacted the police and complained about his son disobeying them. He had said that his son used to threaten them both and beat them if they did not fulfill his wishes,” said the police spokesman.

“The dispute centered around the parents disapproving of his wife,” he added.


30-day test run for Makkah metro


Oct 3, 2010

JEDDAH: The newly established Mashair Railway, which links the holy sites of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifa with Makkah, will have a 30-day test run before opening to transport domestic and GCC pilgrims during the upcoming Haj season.

Municipal and Rural Affairs Minister Prince Mansour bin Miteb will inspect the railway (also known as the Makkah Metro) on Tuesday to make sure the facility is ready to transport the guests of God. The railway will bring about a dramatic change in pilgrim transportation between the holy sites.

Established at a cost of SR6.5 billion, the new railway will have a capacity to transport 72,000 pilgrims in an hour. Nine stations have been constructed in Arafat, Mina and Muzdalifa, each having three stations. This is the second largest project implemented by the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs after the SR4.5 billion high-tech Jamrat Bridge project in Mina.

Habib Zain Al-Abidine, deputy minister of municipal and rural affairs, said the railway will have 10 trains in the first phase, each with a length of 300 meters. “Each train will carry 3,000 passengers.”

He said Saudi authorities have not yet fixed the fare. “The matter is in the hands of Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior Prince Naif, chairman of the Supreme Haj Committee. Once the prince gives his directives, we’ll announce the fare,” he said.

The time for transporting pilgrims from Arafat to Muzdalifa will be reduced to five minutes on the 9th of Dul Hijjah when the faithful will move together from the plain of Arafat to Muzdalifa. And another five minutes will take them from Muzdalifa to Mina on the 10th.

Zain Al-Abidine said the railway would operate throughout the year.

The second phase of the project will link Mashair Railway with the Grand Mosque in Makkah with a station on Umm Al-Qura Road. It will also be linked with the Haramain Railway that connects Makkah with Madinah and Jeddah.

The trains will have a test run covering 6,000 km each before starting regular operations. The first test run took place last Thursday. The railway will have 20 trains in the next stage, each with 12 carriages and each carriage holding 250 passengers. About 20 percent of passengers will be seated while 80 percent will be standing. Trains will have a speed of 80 to 120 km/hour.


Palestinians mull talks walk-out over settlements

Oct 3, 2010

Palestinian leaders met to agree a stance after Israel resumed settlement building this week

The Palestinian leadership has said it will not continue peace talks with Israel unless a freeze on Jewish settlements in the West Bank resumes.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met political leaders after settlement building resumed this week.

"The leadership confirms that the resumption of talks requires tangible steps, the first of them a freeze on settlements," said senior Palestinian official Yasser Abed Rabbo.

After the meeting of Palestinian leaders in Ramallah in the West Bank, Mr Abed Rabbo accused Israel of "obstructing the negotiations".

The BBC's Wyre Davies in Jerusalem says the statement requiring a freeze on settlement building is a reaffirmation of the Palestinian position, but is also a reminder that time is running out.

Shuttle diplomacy

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appealed to the Palestinians not to leave the negotiations.

"I call on President Abbas to continue the good and sincere talks that we have just started, in order to reach an historic peace agreement between our two peoples," he said in a statement on Saturday.

The Palestinians are not expected to make a final decision until after an Arab League meeting due to take place in Libya next week.

Meanwhile, US envoy George Mitchell is visiting Arab countries in an attempt to secure wider backing for continued peace negotiations.

Israel refused to extend a 10-month ban on settlement building in the West Bank which expired last Sunday.

Mr Netanyahu has said a further freeze could fracture his right-wing coalition government, which is dominated by pro-settlement parties, including his own Likud bloc.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Middle East war of 1967.

About 500,000 Jews now live in more than 100 settlements which are held to be illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this. About 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank.

The Islamist movement Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and is not taking part in the talks, has urged Mr Abbas to withdraw.

Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians resumed in September after a break of nearly two years.


Iran arrests 'nuclear spies' accused of cyber attacks

Oct 3, 2010

The Stuxnet worm affected staff computers at Iran's Bushehr power station

Iran has arrested "nuclear spies" on suspicion of being behind cyber attacks on its nuclear programme, Iranian state media report.

Press TV says "a number" of people have been apprehended as part of an operation by Iran to counter "massive enemy schemes".

The report comes after the complex worm Stuxnet infected staff computers at Iran's first nuclear power station at Bushehr.

Iranian Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi was cited by Press TV as saying his ministry was capable of countering any threats.

"We are always facing destructive activities by these [espionage] services, and, of course, we have arrested a number of nuclear spies to block the enemy's destructive moves," Mr Moslehi said.

But he did not say how many people were detained, or specify whether the cyber attack referred to the Stuxnet virus.

While the worm also affected computers India, Indonesia and the US, it has spread the most in Iran.

Reports suggest that the Stuxnet virus mutated in Iran and infected 30,000 computers.

It is believed to be the first worm designed to target major infrastructure facilities.

Iran's Russian-built Bushehr plant will start generating power in January, two months later than planned, but officials have said the delay was not due to the virus.

Some experts have said the virus was designed to target Tehran's nuclear programme, with some saying the complexity could only have been created by a state.

Iran has been subject to four rounds of UN sanctions because of its uranium enrichment programme, which is separate from Bushehr.

The West fears Tehran wants to build a nuclear weapon, but Iran insists its plans are for peaceful energy production.