Thursday, April 11, 2013


Former Railways Ministry Liu Zhijun Charged With Corruption


Liu Zhijun controlled  China’s Railway Ministry , state-run media reports he’s been charged with corruption and abuse of power.Liu was dismissed back in 2011, five months before a deadly train crash in Wenzhou, in southeastern Zhejiang province. Chinese investigators said he had embezzled $152 million. This raised concerns of sub-standard quality construction of China’s high-speed rails.May last year, he was expelled from the Communist Party. It was around when the political saga around disgraced official Bo Xilai began to unfold. Bo, too, has been dismissed from the Party, but is yet to be officially charged.
Liu Zhijun had political backing from former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin—another point of similarity between Liu and Bo Xilai. Jiang’s political allies getting elbowed out as the new generation of leaders establish their positions.The charges against Liu have been filed at the Beijing No 2 Intermediate People’s Court. A date for his trial has not been set.Media agencies
UNWTO urges Vice President to position Tourism higher on the Global Agenda
The Secretary General of United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Mr. Taleb Rifai accompanied by Union Tourism Minister Shri K.Chiranjeevi handed over an “Open Letter” to Vice President Shri M.Hamid Ansari here today. The letter jointly signed by Mr. Rifai and Mr. David Scowsill, President and CEO, World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) urges world leaders to join hands with the leaders from the other countries as well as with UNWTO and WTTC to position travel and tourism higher on the global agenda.

The Open Letter says travel and tourism currently accounts directly and indirectly for about 3% to 5% of global GDP, as well as 30% of the world’s export of services. If the induced impacts of travel and tourism are factored into the calculations, its total contribution is greater still. According to the letter, “The total contribution of Travel &Tourism to employment-including jobs indirectly supported by the sector is estimated at 7% to 8%. This makes Travel & Tourism a vital contributor to the global development agenda, affording it a unique role in building strong, sustainable and balanced global growth”.

With a view to acknowledge the instrumental role of tourism in the global economy, the UNWTO and WTTC have jointly initiated a ‘Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign’. The basic objective of the campaign is to send a message to the world to accord high priority to the development of the tourism sector for promoting employment opportunities and economic development. The campaign was launched in 2011 and till date 47 countries have joined this campaign. The Open letter along with the testimonials of the Head of States and Governments who have joined the Campaign will be compiled in the Golden Book of Tourism Campaign

Syrian oppo leaders hold talks with Kerry, G8 ministers in UK



Syrian Opposition leaders on Wednesday met US Secretary of State John Kerry and G8 foreign ministers in London to seek a "political" breakthrough of the country's civil unrest on the sidelines of an official G8 ministerial meet with North Korean nuclear crisis and Iran high on the agenda.

At the discussion with the G8 ministers, Syrian opposition prime Minister Ghassan Hitto and Syrian National Coalition vice-presidents George Sabra and Soheir Atassi and other civilian leaders pushed for lifting an arms embargo on Syria to topple the President Bashar al-Assad regime.
"I will be joining and convening some of those meetings to discuss the urgent humanitarian needs and the urgent need for a political and diplomatic breakthrough," British foreign secretary William Hague told reporters in reference to the meeting.
"This (Syria) is turning into the greatest humanitarian catastrophe of the 21st century so far and we cannot watch this happen," he added.
Syria slipped into its third year of the devastating civil war this year as the rebels have been waging an uprising to oust Assad in which an estimated 70,000 people said to have been killed and millions forced to flee their honmes.
Syria's Opposition umbrella group the National Coalition is recognised by the US and UK and many other Western and Arab countries as the sole representative of the Syrian people.
The Syrian Opposition was formally granted an Arab League seat last month.
The ongoing civil unrest in the country is at the top of the agenda of the two-day foreign minister's meeting from today being hosted by the UK in the run-up to the official summit of the Group of Eight nations-Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland in June.
In keeping with the London meet's central theme of conflict prevention and resolution, Kerry is also set to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in a bid to persuade Moscow, a key ally of Damascus, to help break the international stalemate on the conflict.
The US and EU are currently providing non-lethal aid, such as communications equipment, and are beginning to distribute food and medical supplies to the Free Syrian Army.
There has been no consensus over the issue of arming the Opposition as a result of fears that the weapons could get into the hands of terrorists.
A European Union arms embargo on Syria is set to expire at the end of May and its renewal will require a wide consensus on the issue.
Hague confirmed at a pre-meet briefing in the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) here yesterday that Britain and France would continue to push for the lifting of the arms embargo.
Iran, Syria's main ally, will also loom large at the G8 talks after nuclear negotiations between Tehran and world powers ended in deadlock at the weekend.
The tensions over North Korea would also be a key topic, with Pyongyang's April 10 deadline over the safety of foreign embassies now running out.
Hague stressed that his "personal priority" for the meeting was a new agreement and international protocol to prevent sexual violence in conflicts.
"Many countries are suffering these horrific attacks, including Sri Lanka and India. At a domestic level, all governments are expected to do their best to combat such crimes. Our aim is to draw up an international protocol and build an international coalition on the issue of sexual violence as a weapon of war," he said.
Other topics of discussions at the ministerial talks are expected to include encouraging international financial institutions to re-engage with Somalia and Iran and the Middle East peace process.
Burma and the Deauville Partnership with Arab Countries in Transition have also been named as key issues to be addressed.

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