Coalition talks begin after election deadlock

Coalition talks have begun in "Israel" after near-complete general election results gave right-wing and centre-left blocs 60 seats each in parliament.

Shimon Peres is expected to ask Benjamin Netanyahu to attempt to form a new government.

His Likud-Beitenu alliance lost a quarter of its seats in the Knesset but remains the largest grouping with 31.

He has offered to work with the newly-formed Yesh Atid party, which shocked observers by coming second with 19,according to BBC.

However, its leader, popular former TV presenter Yair Lapid, has demanded reform of a law under which ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students can defer their military service. Religious parties in the current governing coalition are strongly opposed to any changes.

Mr Lapid has also said he would only join a government that was committed to reviving the peace process with the Palestinians, which has stalled since Mr Netanyahu took office.

"Whoever wants Yesh Atid in the coalition will need to bring these things," Ofer Shelah, a senior member of the party, told press.

On Wednesday morning, Israeli media reported that with 99.8% of votes counted, the joint electoral list of Netanyahu's Likud party and the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party of his former hard-liner Avigdor Lieberman had won 31 seats.

That would be 11 seats fewer than the two parties' combined total from the last election.

The ultra-nationalist Habayit Hayehudi "Jewish Home", which rejects the notion of an independent Palestinian state, won 11 seats, as did the ultra-Orthodox religious Shas party.

The smaller ultra-Orthodox United "Torah Judaism party" won seven, bringing the right-wing bloc's total to 60 of the 120 seats in the Knesset.

Yesh Atid (There is a Future), a secular centrist party which was only set up by Mr Lapid last year, had been expected by pollsters to win about 12 seats, but is set to get 19, just ahead of the Labour party with 15.

The centrist Hatnua (The Movement) grouping of hard-liner Tzipi Livni won six seats, as did the left-wing Meretz party. Kadima, which was the largest party in the last parliament, got just two.

Addressing Likud supporters after preliminary results gave the right-wing bloc a one-seat parliamentary majority, Netanyahu promised to form as "as broad a government as possible".

Labour party leader Shelly Yachimovich meanwhile said she had also initiated contacts aimed at forming a centre-left governing coalition.

A senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) said the election result was unlikely to produce an Israeli government more committed to negotiating a permanent peace agreement.

"I don't see a peace coalition or a peace camp emerging now and revitalising itself," Hanan Ashrawi told reporters in Ramallah.


Turkish Demonstrations Against Patriot Missile Deployment

ANKARA,(ST)_ Amid growing people 's  rejection of Turkey's hostile  policies by the government of the  Justice and Development Party, Turkish protesters rallied in the capital, Ankara on Tuesday ,  in  protest against the deployment of NATO Patriot missiles along their country's border with Syria, under the pretext of addressing any " likely Syrian Threat".

The demonstrators urged the Turkish  parliament to take action and cancel the deployment of NATO missiles and troops in Turkey.

Anti-Patriot protesters also gathered in front of the German Embassy in Ankara.

The protest comes a day after four batteries of Patriot missiles, two each from Germany and the Netherlands, reached Turkey.

"Germany, take your Patriots and get out of Turkey," the protesters chanted on Tuesday, amid police men intensive presence at the site of the demonstration, AFP reported.

Earlier on Monday, a similar anti-Patriot protest was held in front of the US Embassy, where angry protesters condemned what they called Ankara’s interventionist policies towards Syria.

Also on Monday, a group of Turkish protesters tried to get through the barricades at Incirlik Air Force Base in Adana in protest to the arrival of Patriot anti-missile batteries. About 25 protesters were arrested.

The United States, Germany and the Netherlands have agreed to deploy two batteries of Patriot missiles each, under the command of NATO, along the Turkish-Syria border after the military alliance approved a request by Turkey for the deployment of the surface-to-air missiles in the border region on December 4, 2012.

The three countries will also send nearly 350 troops each to Turkey. A number of American, German and Dutch soldiers are already stationed in the country.

Turkish people have held several protests against the military plan.
Meantime, members of the Turkish  Communist Party members in Iskenderun port  protested against the arrival of the  Patriot missiles to the port on Monday, expressing their rejection of the deployment of these missiles batteries on the  Turkish territory.
The demonstrators chanted slogans condemning the NATO missile deployment , the  U.S. President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

T. Fateh

Sudanese President Underlines Reinvigoration of All-Out Ties with Iran

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir lauded the close ties and cooperation between his country and Iran, and called for the further consolidation of the relations between the two countries in all fields.   

Bashir's remarks were made during his meeting with Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani on the sidelines of the 8th General Assembly Meeting of the Islamic Inter-Parliamentary Union (IIPU) in Khartoum,according to FNA.

At the meeting, the two sides reviewed the latest regional and international developments, and discussed ways to develop bilateral relations in political, economic and other fields.

They also conferred on the threats and challenges posed to the Islamic nations as well as obstacles to the expansion of the relations between the two countries.

Iranian and Sudanese leaders have on many occasions laid increasing emphasis on the expansion of ties and cooperation between the two nations.

Bashir said on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Tehran (August 26-31) that the relations between the two countries are "excellent", but meantime urged a bolstering of mutual cooperation.

Also, during a visit to Sudan late in September 2011, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lauded the close ties between Tehran and Khartoum, and underlined that the two countries are resolved to boost mutual cooperation with no limit or boundary.

Tehran has prioritized promotion of its economic and political ties with the African states and the country is now considered as one of the African Union's strategic partners.

Tehran's efforts to boost ties and cooperation with Africa have led to its acceptance as an observing member of the African Union (AU), where it has shown an active presence in the AU summit meetings.


Indian President Calls for Development of Ties with Iran

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee in a meeting with Iran's new Ambassador to New Delhi Gholamreza Ansari underlined his country's enthusiasm for the further expansion of relations with Tehran, especially in political fields,According to FNA.

"The political relations between Iran and India are highly extensive and such ties and cooperation should further expand," Mukherjee said in the meeting on Tuesday, during which Ansari submitted his credentials to the Indian president.

He also reiterated the deep and special relations between the two countries, and said, "Iran and India enjoy highly profound and age-old relations and there are abundant potentials for cooperation between two countries."

The Iranian envoy, for his part, described economic relations as one of the main potentials for the two countries' cooperation, and said there are good capacities for mutual cooperation in the energy sector.

Iran and India which have deep historical and cultural relations are now seeking to further expand political and economic ties.

India, the world's fourth-largest petroleum consumer, is Iran's second largest oil customer after China and purchases around $12 billion worth of Iranian crude every year, about 12 percent of its consumption.


President Al-Assad plan, good opportunity for national talks- Larijani

 Speaker of Iran's Majlis (Parliament) Ali Larijani said Tuesday that the recent plan proposed by President Bashar Al-Assad is a good opportunity for holding dialogue among different Syrian groups.

Larijani made the remarks in a meeting with Hezbullah member of parliament Walid Sukkarieh who is leading the Lebanese delegation to Khartoum, Sudanوaccording to IRNA.

The meeting was held on the sidelines of the eighth General Assembly meeting of the Islamic Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Stressing that the Syrian problem has no military solution, Larijani said Iran is against any military intervention in Syria. Those countries which financially support opposition groups in Syria and dispatch arms to them should be responsible for the bloodshed in that country.

As to Iran's stance on Syria, the Majlis speaker said Tehran believes that democracy should be pursued in that country.

Lebanon plays a significant role in the region, thanks to its resistance movement, Larijani reiterated.

For his part, the Lebanese official said the western states are trying to sow discord among regional states in order to achieve their own objectives.

He further hoped that the Syrian people would witness peace as soon as possible, stressing that no country has right to meddle in internal affairs of Damascus.