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Saturday
Dec042010

Pakistani, Afghan Leaders Dismiss WikiLeaks Claims

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai (R) shakes hands with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani (L) after a press conference Saturday in Kabul. Photo Courtesy - MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- In a joint press conference Saturday in Kabul, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani both dismissed revelations contained in cables released by WikiLeaks as inaccurate and unsurprising. Karzai rejected allegations of corruption not by denying them, but by suggesting that the most outlandish allegation – that his former vice president smuggled $52 million in cash to Dubai – was physically impossible.

"$52 million! If you put $52 million in boxes it will be at least 30 big suitcases,” Karzai said. “Can someone carry 30 suitcases with them?"

Gilani urged caution, essentially calling it unwise to jump to conclusions based on the information released by WikiLeaks.

“These are just some of the views of junior officers of some of the [embassies] and they are not authentic,” he said. “Therefore we should not even take them seriously."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec042010

Disputed Ivory Coast Election May Lead to Civil War

Photo Courtesy - ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images(YAMOUSSOUKRO, Ivory Coast) -- Civil war looms over the West African nation Ivory Coast after a disputed presidential election. The opposition candidate Alessana Ouattra, a Muslim from the north, was declared the winner by almost 10 percentage points by an internationally-accepted electoral commission. But in a stunning reversal, officials allied with current president Laurent Gbagbo declared Gbagbo the winner. The U.N. and the Obama administration released statements claiming they do not recognize Gbagbo as the president.

The military, allied with the president, has sealed in all the borders: land, sea and air. The government has also banned all foreign broadcasts, trying to make sure no information comes in or goes out.

The measures could lead to chaos and ethnic war. The 8,000 peacekeeping troops currently stationed in the country are not thought to be enough to stop what could be an even bloodier civil war than the last one in 2002, which killed thousands and divided the country.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec042010

US to Reveal New Ideas for Mideast Peace Talks

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MANAMA, Bahrain) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hinted Friday that the U.S. will offer some ideas for a way forward next week in the stalled Mideast peace talks. She refused, however, to reveal what those ideas might be.

In an interview with al Hurra television Friday, Clinton said, "We have been talking with both parties very substantively, and I think that the United States can play a role to help each make decisions about very difficult matters that then can be presented to the other side."

When the latest round of talks began approximately two months ago, the U.S. said that if appropriate, it would present its own ideas on how to move forward. The process has been stalled over a disagreement about Israeli settlement building, and perhaps now the time has come for a U.S. push.

"We're going to have some additional consultations with both the Israelis and the Palestinians. But there are a number of ways that we're going to move forward," she said.

Asked if the current round of talks were dead, Clinton replied, "We're not ready to say that," but added that there would be much more to say next week.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec042010

Two Dead After Moscow Flight Makes Emergency Landing

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- At least two passengers died and dozens were injured when a Dagestan Airlines TU-154 made an emergency landing at Moscow's Domodedovo airport, according to an Interfax report.

The aircraft took off from Moscow's Vnukovo airport and decided to make an emergency landing approximately 30 minutes later. According to RIA, the plane suffered three consecutive engine failures.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec042010

Iraqi Capital Hit with String of Deadly Bombings

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BAGHDAD) -- A series of deadly bomb explosions in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad left at least 13 dead and more than 100 wounded, the BBC reported Saturday.

Insurgents targeted Iranian pilgrims with two bombs. The first exploded near a house used by pilgrims as a rest stop; the other struck a bus carrying Iranian Shiites.

A third car bomb went off at a busy market where several people were reported killed.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec032010

Obama Calls Netanyahu On Forest Fires in Israel

Photo Courtesy - The White House(HAIFA, Israel) -- During his return from Afghanistan Friday, President Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to express his condolences regarding forest fires that began Thursday in Israel.

In a paper statement, the White House reported, "The president expressed his deepest condolences on behalf of the American people for the tragic loss of life resulting from the fires in northern Israel.  The president said he is pleased that American and Israeli officials have been in near-constant contact since the fires began." 

The White House added that President Obama assured Netanyahu that USAID and the Department of Defense would deliver fire-retardant chemicals this weekend and that the U.S. is pursuing a "full court press" to help the Israeli people.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec032010

US Reaches Korea Free Trade Agreement

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The United States and South Korea have agreed to a free-trade deal.  Last month when Mr. Obama visited Seoul, South Korea he was criticized for failing to achieve an agreement.

Friday the White House touted that in the weeks since failing to get an agreement what emerged was a “substantially better package than was on the table in Korea,” last month and one that is “significantly improved over the 2007 deal,” a senior administration official said this afternoon in advance of the agreement, adding that it is better for American workers and businesses.

“We think what we’ve been able to achieve now in this Korea Free Trade agreement is one that not only helps us create opportunities for business but for our workers as well,” a senior administration official said, “we have answered many of the concerns frankly from the automotive sector that will allow them to have the opportunity to go and compete just as freely in Korean car markets as they have had access to our car markets over the last several years.”

To note on the beef issue, one of the major sticking points, the administration officials admitted that while the agreement will eliminate the 40 percent tariff, it is still -- in their words “a pending issue.”

The agreement would eliminate tariffs on over 95 percent of industrial and consumer goods within five years.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 

Friday
Dec032010

Clinton Urges Iran to Strike Nuke Deal

Photo Courtesy - U.S. State Department(MANAMA, Bahrain) -- Speaking at a security conference in Bahrain Friday, Secretary Clinton directly addressed Iranian delegates in the audience, urging them to accept a nuclear deal that will be offered to them at meetings in Geneva next week.
 
“We hope that out of this meeting, entered into in good faith, we will see a constructive engagement with respect to your nuclear program,” Clinton said, adding that Iran must take steps to reassure the world about its nuclear intentions.
 
“We urge you to make that choice,” she said. She said the Obama administration’s offers for dialogue remain on the table.
 
Clinton was addressing the so-called Manama dialogue, hosted by the think tank IISS, and among the attendees is Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. Her remarks, which also praised Iran’s society and history, seemed almost an effort to tone down the rhetoric ahead of next week’s meeting.
 
On Monday and Tuesday the P5+1 will present Iran an updated fuel swap deal that would remove the country’s uranium stockpile in exchange for fuel to be used for electricity production.
 
Asked by an audience member after her speech what she expected to get out of the Geneva talks, Clinton said “that is largely in the hands of the Iranians.”
 
“It is, for me, if you are thinking strategically, very much in Iran’s interest to come to these talks in Geneva committed to working out a way to restore the confidence of the international community and firmly, conclusively reject the pursuit of nuclear weapons,” she said.
 
Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec032010

Female Police Chief Murdered in Mexico

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MEOQUI, Mexico) -- The newly appointed female police chief of the northern Mexican town of Meoqui was shot and killed on her way to work by a convoy of gunmen who reportedly worked for drug traffickers, authorities said.

Hermila Garcia Quinones, 38, was sworn in on Oct. 9 as chief of the 90-person police force. Despite the growing drug-related violence in the region, "La Jefa," as Garcia Quinones was known, refused to have bodyguards or carry a weapon.

"If you don't owe anything, you don't fear anything," she was fond of saying when asked why she didn't have security. She was killed Nov. 29, another death in what has become a bloodbath in Mexico tied to drug traffickers whose wares supply users in the U.S.

"This is an area where Los Zetas operate in. Los Zetas are the meanest, most sadistic, most psychotic criminal organization in Mexico," said George W. Grayson, a crime expert and professor at William and Mary College. "I don't know that they did it. But they don't have any regard for gender, age, profession. They enjoy killing. They have raised the bar of brutality."

Meoqui, which borders Texas, was not always a dangerous region. But in recent months it has started to see some of the drug-related violence which has claimed almost 30,000 lives in Mexico since 2006. In the last year, there have been 40 drug-related deaths in the town.

When men refused to take the police chief position in Meoqui, Garcia Quinones stepped forward.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec032010

Foreign Aid Arrives in Israel to Help Fend off Forest Fire

Photo Courtesy - Uriel Sinai/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Israel is still having trouble containing a fire that has burned through an estimated 7,000 acres of forest and left at least 41 people dead.

Israeli firefighting planes, and a few from Greece and Bulgaria, arrived at Carmel Forest Thursday night and have been dumping water on the fire, but officials say very little progress is being made. A powerful eastern wind is continuing to strengthen and spread the fire, inching it closer and closer to Israel's third largest city, Haifa.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu held an emergency security cabinet meeting, calling the conflagration an unprecedented disaster. He expressed condolences to the families of the 41 Israelis who died, most of them on a bus that got caught in the flames.

Netanyahu also thanked Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey for acting quickly and sending nearly a dozen planes and helicopters to help battle the fire. More assistance, he said, is coming from  Russia, Eygpt, France, and the U.S.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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