Monday, July 22, 2013

News around the globe

In his first official visit to India after assuming office in 2009, US Vice-President Joe Biden arrived on Monday on a four-day trip aimed at bolstering ties in key sectors of trade, energy, defence and security.
During his stay in India, Biden will hold meetings with top Indian leadership, including President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Biden, accompanied by his wife Jill, was received at the airport here by Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and Indian envoy to the US Nirupama Rao.
Official sources said the focus will be on four key areas of economic and trade ties, energy and climate change, defence co-operation and a wide range of regional co-operation.
Biden, 70, had visited New Delhi in 2008 as a Senator. He will also hold talks with Vice President Hamid Ansari and Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj.
Biden, who wanted to travel to India in the first term itself, began his trip with a visit to the Gandhi Smriti Museum to show his respect to the Father of the Nation.
All his meetings have been scheduled for 23rd July, at the end of which he would attend a dinner hosted in his honour by Ansari.
Biden would spend the next two days 24th and 25th July — in Mumbai, where he would meet business leaders at a round table and deliver a policy speech at the Bombay Stock Exchange.
He is expected to set up an “ambitious vision” for India- US relationship, in addition to attending a women’s empowerment event at IIT Mumbai.
He would leave for Singapore on 25th July. All this while, Jill would hold a series of health and nutritional events in New Delhi and Mumbai and visit the Taj Mahal in Agra.
Biden, however, would not be visiting the Taj Mahal.
The US Vice President, while speaking at the prestigious George Washington University last week had said, “One of the reasons why President (Barack) Obama called our relations with India, quote, ‘a defining partnership of the century ahead’ is that India is increasingly looking east as a force for security and growth in Southeast Asia and beyond”.

Arab League backs Palestine in peace talks, doubts Israeli stance

The Arab League is “forming a political support network” for Palestine after it expressed wiliness to participate in the US-proposed peace talks with Israel. But the League’s assistant secretary general, Mohammed Sabih, expressed concerns that the Israeli stance on the issue may make it “negotiations for the sake of negotiations, going round in a vicious circle.” “Many in the Israeli government do not want an Arab peace initiative,” he added. The peace talks have remained stalled since September 2010, but US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will meet in Washington within “the next week or so.”

At least 75 people were killed and 412 others injured when two powerful shallow earthquakes on Monday jolted a remote mountainous province in northwestern China near Tibet, causing extensive devastation and triggering landslides.
The quakes with magnitudes of 6.6 and 5.6 struck Minxian and Zhangxian counties in Gansu Province.
Over 400 aftershocks had been recorded in the quake-hit region, with the strongest measuring 5.6 in magnitude, Chang Zhengguo, spokesman for the provincial government, said.
Official Xinhua news agency reported that the death toll has climbed to 75.
According to latest figures, 73 people were killed in Dingxi City and two in its neighboring Longnan City, said the Dingxi municipal government.
An initial survey showed that the quake had caused the collapse of more than 1,200 houses and severe damage to 21,000 homes.
Around 3,000 firefighters, armed police, soldiers and local government workers have been mobilised for the rescue.
Aftershocks and minor landslides with falling rocks were seen in the mountainous region, posing dangers for rescuers arriving at quake-hit villages.
In the villages in the seriously-hit Meichuan Township, of Minxian County, many rural buildings had been reduced to ruins and others had cracks in the walls, Xinhua reported.
A total of 31 people have been confirmed dead in Meichuan, according to rescuers.
Zhu Wenqing, a 40-year-old farmer in Majiagou Village in Meichuan said his house survived the first quake but eventually collapsed following seven or eight aftershocks.
Villagers said the victims were mainly elderly and children, who failed to escape from collapsing houses. President Xi Jinping has urged all-out rescue effort and put “saving life” as the top priority.
This is the second major quake to have hit China since April this year. Over 200 people were killed when a 7.0-magnitude quake hit the southwest Sichuan Province.
The epicentre of the quakes, with a depth of 20 km, the China Earthquake Networks Centre said. The strongest quake recorded around the fault zone was measured with a magnitude of 8.0 on July 21, 1654.
That one happened about 121 km from the site of the latest quake, it added. Locals in Minxian County said the quake on Monday morning lasted for about one minute.
Sources with the county government said most of its townships have been affected by the quake. Armed police, fire fighters and more than 300 local militiamen have been dispatched to the quake-hit region to help with the rescue efforts.
The provincial civil affairs department has sent 500 tents and 2,000 quilts. The Lanzhou Railway Bureau has initiated an emergency response to guarantee the safety of railway bridges and communication facilities in the province.
The earthquake was also felt in Tianshui City and Lanzhou as well as the cities of Xi’an, Baoji and Xianyang in neighbouring Shaanxi Province.

Iran invites Western leaders to presidential inauguration

Iran has sent invitations to an array of world leaders to attend the August 4 inauguration of President Hasan Rouhani, Iran’s foreign ministry says. American and European leaders and officials were among those invited, but it has not elaborated on which individual leaders would be invited, spokesman Abbas Araghchi said. Israeli officials, which Iran does not recognize, would presumably not be included.
Archery World Cup: Indian women win recurve team gold
World number 3 Deepika Kumari came up with a stunning effort to lead India to a commanding 201-186 win over China in Women’s Recurve Team Final at Archery World Cup Stage 3 being held in Medellin, Colombia.
Deepika had crashed out of the singles competition at the quarterfinal stage but she showed her class by hitting four 10s in tricky conditions to allow India to reclaim the Women’s Recurve Team gold after a two-year gap.
Bombayla Devi Laishram and Rimil Buriuly gave good support to Deepika as India beat China 201-186 to claim their second medal of this World Cup and their first World Cup Women’s team gold since Shanghai 2011.
Earlier, India clinched a bronze medal in the compound men’s team event to open their account. Rajat Chouhan, Sandeep Kumar and Ratan Singh Khuraijam overcame a stiff resistance from the hosts Colombia to win 215-210 en route to the bronze medal on Saturday.

Abe to visit  ASEAN nations 
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit ASEAN nations this week.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has announced Abe's 3-day visit to Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines starting on Thursday.

Competitiveness, climate, security Finn’s priorities Ministry of Finance release Finnish road map of EU presidency. Finland i...