The Nation Sunday Print Edition - page 10

Foreign news
Page 10 Sunday, November 9, 2014 The Nation
Compiled by
Ravi Nagahawatte
Beijing, China (AFP)-
China’s authori-
tarian President Xi Jinping and Russian
counterpart Vladimir Putin share simi-
lar views on issues from human rights to
Mikhail Gorbachev, in an increasingly
close personal relationship that mirrors
their countries’ converging interests.
Putin arrives in Beijing Sunday for
the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
(APEC) summit and his 10th meeting with
Xi since the Chinese president took office
in March last year, according to the Com-
munist mouthpiece People’s Daily.
Their growing rapport comes as their
nations’ trade, investment and geopolitical
interests align.
Moscow faces harsh Western criticism
and sanctions over its seizure of Crimea
and the conflict in eastern Ukraine, as well
as opprobrium for its approach to dissent
and homosexuality.
Beijing also has tense relationships over
territorial disputes with neighbours such
as Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines,
and has recently been the target of criti-
cism over demands for free elections in
Hong Kong.
“The situation is pushing the two coun-
tries towards closer ties, both are facing
very heavy pressures, Russia in Ukraine
and China in Hong Kong,” said Vladimir
Yevseyev, director of the Moscow-based in-
dependent Public Political Studies Center.
“Xi comes from a background close to
the military-industrial complex, he is a
man who is much closer to the structures
of power enforcement than his predeces-
sor (Hu Jintao),” Yevseyev said.
“Putin understands him better, their
outlooks are identical,” he added. “Xi is in-
clined to confrontation if necessary, which
pleases Putin.”
Security Council
Relations between Moscow and Beijing
have a chequered history. Territorial dis-
putes between Tsarist Russia and Imperial
China gave way to cooperation between the
Soviet Union and the People’s Republic in
the latter’s early years.
That, however, subsequently collapsed
in a huge split over ideological issues such
as how to promote revolution, who should
lead the international communist move-
ment, whether to engage with the capitalist
world, and China’s development of nuclear
weapons.
Eventually a tectonic shift in global geo-
politics resulted when Beijing and Wash-
ington ended their mutual hostility and
President Richard Nixon visited China.
The USSR broke up 23 years ago and Rus-
sia and China have since been brought to-
gether by mutual concerns, notably wari-
ness of Washington.
The two countries often vote as a pair on
the UN Security Council, where both hold
a veto, sometimes in opposition to Western
powers on issues such as Syria.
They have carried out joint military ex-
ercises on land and sea and are members of
the BRICS emerging nations group, which
also includes Brazil, India and South Af-
rica.
Their economic links are burgeoning,
with resource-rich Russia a natural sup-
plier to China’s growing economy. After
a decade of negotiations, the countries
signed a huge 30-year gas deal said to be
worth $400 billion during a visit to China
by Putin in May.
Washington, United States (AFP)
- President Barack Obama on
Friday unveiled plans to send 1,500 additional troops to Iraq to help
Baghdad government forces strike back at Islamic State jihadists,
roughly doubling the number of US soldiers in the country.
The move marked a deepening US commitment in the open-end-
ed war against the IS group, three months since American aircraft
launched air strikes against the Sunni extremists.
The move extends the US training and advising mission to new
areas as Iraqi and Kurdish forces prime themselves to recapture
ground lost to the IS group, including in the volatile Anbar province
in the west where the Iraqi army has been on the retreat.
The reinforcements were “part of our strategy for strengthening
partners on the ground” but the troops would have a “non-combat
role,” the White House said in a statement.
Kiev, Ukraine (AFP)
- Dozens of tanks and
truckloads of soldiers have crossed from Russia
into Kremlin-backed rebel territory, Ukraine said
Friday, though neither NATO nor the US were able
to verify the claim.
The allegations that Moscow is stepping up re-
inforcements for the insurgents stoked fears that
both sides could slide into a return to all-out fight-
ing.
A column of 32 tanks, 16 howitzer cannons and
30 trucks carrying troops and equipment crossed
the border into the separatist-held Lugansk re-
gion Thursday, Ukrainian military spokesman
Andriy Lysenko said, adding that another convoy
including three mobile radar stations had also en-
tered the same area.
US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki
said Russian battle tanks, armoured vehicles and
cargo trucks had been seen Thursday about 25 ki-
lometres (15 miles) from the border, but added there
was no “independent confirmation” of the reports.
“If confirmed, the United States condemns this
most recent incursion into Ukrainian territory,”
she said. “It would be another blatant violation
of the Minsk agreement signed by Russia and the
separatists.”
The Russian defence ministry said Friday that
a string of Western accusations concerning troop
movements around the Ukraine border were “un-
true”.
Kiev said five soldiers were killed in the latest
fighting between government forces and pro-Mos-
cow rebels, underscoring the emptiness of a two-
month truce that both sides continue to insist they
are respecting.
- Rare chance for dialogue -
In a rare chance for dialogue, Russian Foreign
Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet his US counter-
part John Kerry Saturday ahead of the APEC sum-
mit in Beijing next week, Russian news agencies
reported.
But in a sign of how far relations have slumped,
the Kremlin ruled out an official sit-down between
President Vladimir Putin and US leader Barack
Obama.
Los Angeles, United States (AFP)
- Robin
Williams had recently become increasingly
paranoid when he committed suicide by
hanging himself, coroners said Friday, adding
that he had no alcohol or illicit drugs in his
system.
There were also signs that the comic actor
-- who had recently been diagnosed with
Parkinson’s Disease -- had tried to cut his left
wrist, according to an autopsy report.
No suicide note or other indication that he
planned to take his own life was found at the
scene, it said. The 63-year-old, known for high-
energy, rapid-fire improvisation and clowning,
was found dead on August 11 at his home in
Marin County, north of San Francisco.
The coroner for Marin County, Robert
Doyle, said the investigation into his death
had concluded, giving the cause as “asphyxia
due to hanging” and the manner of death as
“suicide.”
“Toxicological evaluation revealed the
absence of alcohol or illicit drugs. Prescription
medications were detected in therapeutic
concentrations,” it added in a brief statement.
“His prior medical history reportedly included
depression, Parkinson’s Disease and a recent
increase in paranoia,” said a longer coroners’
report, which was obtained by
AFP.
The report included other details about
Williams’ medical history, including that he had
shown symptoms of Parkinson’s since 2011,
including a left arm tremor and slowing of left
hand movements. He was diagnosed with the
disease in November 2013.
Freetown, Sierra Leone (AFP)
- The dead-
liest Ebola outbreak ever is finally slowing in
Liberia, the worst-hit country, but still wreaking
havoc in two neighbouring west African states
amid warnings of thousands of unreported
deaths.
As the initially lacklustre global response to
the crisis centred in Liberia and adjoining Si-
erra Leone and Guinea gathered some pace
following repeated and impassioned appeals
from top UN officials and world leaders, the
good news from Liberia was tempered by
warnings that the global toll is likely vastly un-
derestimated.
The outbreak is officially thought to have
claimed 4,960 lives and infected 13,042
people, according to the latest data issued by
the World Health Organization. But that could
be the tip of the iceberg, an official at the UN
health agency said.
“There are lots of missing deaths in this
epidemic,” Christopher Dye, WHO’s strategy
chief, told AFP, estimating that around 5,000
fatalities could be missing from the count.
This assessment, he said, was based on
the knowledge that the fatality rate in the epi-
demic stands at about 70 percent.
Dye said the likely explanation was that
many people were burying the dead in secret,
possibly to avoid having authorities interfere
with burial customs like washing and touching
the deceased widely blamed for much of the
transmission.
Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma
pressed the point in a meeting this week with
lawmakers well as tribal and religious chiefs.
“You must enforce the law and take out the
sick,” he said, referring to a ban on traditional
mourning rites with involve contact with corps-
es.
“This is time for action and you must stop
the hypocrisy in the fight against Ebola,” added
Koroma, whose country has recorded 1,070
deaths from the disease and 4,759 cases.
‘Progress sporadic’
Even though the spread of the virus has
slowed in Liberia, where 2,697 people had
died out of a total of 6,525 cases, officials
warned that this is no time for complacency.
“We cannot wait. This is a situation where
we’re seeing progress but progress can be
sporadic with this disease if we are not vigi-
lant,” said Ertharin Cousin, the head of the
UN’s World Food Programme this week while
on a tour of west Africa.
“And one message is that now is the time for
everyone to come together to ensure that we
are meeting the needs of people who are af-
fected by this disease, because we are seeing
progress,” Cousin said.
Among these are more than 2,000 children
left orphans by the disease in Liberia alone,
West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS said,
urging international help to go beyond imme-
diate medical care.
Anthony Banbury, the UN’s pointman on the
fight against Ebola, told the
BBC
that the inter-
national body had neither received sufficient
funds nor the means to fight the disease.
“It’s not here yet. There are still people, vil-
lages, towns [and] areas that [are] not getting
any type of help right now and we definitely
don’t have the response capability on the
ground now from the international commu-
nity,” he said.
The United Nations said it has received just
over half -- $572 million of the $988 million
-- the funds it is seeking to finance the fight
against the worst outbreak of Ebola since the
discovery of the viral disease in 1976.
US President Barack Obama is asking Con-
gress for more than $6.0 billion in emergency
funding while Japan became the latest country
this week to pledge extra aid, taking Tokyo’s
contribution to a total of $140 million.
The fall of BerlinWall still has
lessons to offer
Washington, United States (AFP)
- US President Barack Obama
told the world Friday to remember lessons from the emotional fall of
the Berlin Wall 25 years ago, particularly in light of “Russia’s actions
against Ukraine.”
Berlin kicked off celebrations Friday of the 25th anniversary of
the fall of the wall, which culminate Sunday with a party to mark the
historic event which led to German reunification.
“Like many Americans, I will never forget the scenes of East Ber-
liners courageously taking to the streets, pushing past the guards
and tearing down the wall that for so long had separated them from
family and friends and the free world,” Obama said in a statement.
“Twenty-five years later, we celebrate the progress that was made
possible by the events of that November night.”
Pope urged to seek Turkey
help over kidnapped bishops
Rome, Italy (AFP)
-
Pope Francis was urged
Friday to use a visit to
Turkey later this month
to press for the liberation
of two orthodox bishops
kidnapped in Syria in April
2013.
Theophilos Kuriakose,
head of the Syriac
Orthodox Church in
Europe, called on Francis
to raise the issue during a
scheduled visit to Ankara
on November 28.
“My humble request is that his holiness... will take the opportu-
nity to raise with the Turkish government the issue of the libera-
tion of our brother bishops who have been kidnapped,” he said.
The bishops, Boulos Yazigi and Yohanna Ibrahim, were kid-
napped in Aleppo in northern Syria and unconfirmed reports
have since suggested they are being held by Chechen militants
on Turkish territory. The pope is due to visit Turkey from No-
vember 28-30, during which time he will meet President Recep
Tayyip Erdogan and new prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Kiev says tanks roll in from Russia
A street vendor of souvenirs displays her most popular goods, toilt paper depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin, in the center of Ukrainian capital of Kiev on
November 7, 2014. The Kremlin leader’s stern features stare fromnovelty rolls sold for 20 hrvyna (1.5 dollars) in Kiev gift shops. He appears onT-shirts emblazoned
with an obscene slogan. Moscow justified its takeover of Crimea and support for rebels in Ukraine’s industrial east as a mission to protect ethnic-Russians from
what it claimed were Fascist nationalists taking power in Kiev
AFP
Xi, Putin form power duo at APEC
A paramilitary policeman stands guard out-
side the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
(APEC) summit venue in Beijing on Novem-
ber 5, 2014
AFP PHOTO
To expanding war on IS
Obama doubles US troops in Iraq
RobinWilliams paranoid before suicide: coroner
Ebola fight starting to pay off but
too early to claim success
Pope Francis
RobinWilliams
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