West considers Russia's stance on Syria more – says Ushakov

International partners have considered Russia's stance on the settlement in Syria more after the visit of French President Francois Hollande to Russia, Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov said.

"It seems to me that after the visit of the French President, international efforts to find a compromise [regarding Syria] intensified, in particular with more consideration of the Russian views and Russian positions, as we see it," Ushakov told reporters at a briefing in Moscow on the eve of Russian President Vladimir Putin's visits to Germany and the Netherlands.

Ushakov said that the situation in Syria was changing daily and new moments were emerging. "Taking into account all this, opinions will be exchanged in Hanover and, obviously, in Amsterdam," the presidential aide said.

The Russian and French presidents "have agreed on certain diplomatic maneuvers, which since have been implemented via diplomatic channels," Ushakov said on the talks of Putin and Hollande, which were held during Hollande's visit to Moscow in late February.

Putin said at a news conference on the results of the talks with Hollande on February 28 that the French president had brought up a number of new proposals on the settlement of the Syrian situation,according to Voice of Russia, Interfax

"Mr. President, we have formed some new proposals during the discussion, which I suppose, could be discussed with all partners and could be attempted to be implemented," Putin said.

"We had a very vivid discussion and even argued about some things. I think that Mr. President agreed with our opinion in some aspects. I think that we also have to consider the opinion of our partners on certain aspects of this complicated issue," Putin said.


Russia send humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees

Russia will shortly continue delivering humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees, the Russian Foreign Ministry said,according to Voice of Russia, Interfax.

On April 3, a Russian plane sent about 40 tons of cargo to Beirut for the Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Russia will send a similar humanitarian aid package to Amman on Thursday.

A Foreign Ministry statement says that the country will continue to do its best to put an end to violence in Syria and the suffering of its citizens who are experiencing a humanitarian disaster as a result of an internal conflict.


Putin, Obama to hold ‘full-scale’ talks amid G8 summit


Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Barack Obama will meet in June on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Northern Ireland, Putin’s aide Yuri Ushakov has told Ria-Novosti.

“So far, the presidents have agreed a full-scale meeting during the G8 summit in Northern Ireland,” Mr. Ushakov said,according to Voice of Russia, RIA

Answering a journalist's question on whether Mr. Obama was planning to come to Russia in 2013, Yuri Ushakov told reporters the leaders may discuss the possibility of meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit.


Ukrainian Journalist to Syria Escapes After Being Kidnapped Last Year

Ukrainian journalist Anhar Kochneva, who was kidnapped last October by mercenaries in  Syria and managed to escape from captivity last month, returned to Syria on the eve, said today national journals.

Kochneva said that she will rent an apartment in Damascus constantly protected in case the insurgents decide to repeat the kidnapping or take revenge.

She also said that although she has Ukrainian passport she is considering to accept Syrian nationality if the authorities propose so, said SANA news agency.

"This is my position and I will not change it for a group of criminals", said the journalist.

The armed insurgents asked $ 50,000,000 US after kidnapping her, nevertheless she managed to escaped in March.

Kochneva, whose father is Ukrainian and mother Palestinian, lived in Syria since the beginning of the conflict in 2011, writing articles together with Russian media,according to Prensa Latina.

She said that she will keep on working in that country's tourist sector and promised to help foreign journalists that work there.


DPRK to Resort to Counteractions against United States



 The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Thursday said it would "take powerful practical military counteractions" against the United States following the latter's provocative actions in the past days, reported KCNA, the DPRK's official news agency.

KCNA on Thursday ran the full text of a statement issued by the spokesman for DPRK's General Staff of the Korean People's Army ( KPA) in charge of all operations, which said the KPA Supreme Command had approved the decision.

"Days and months have passed on this land amid the constant danger of war but never had the whole Korean Peninsula been exposed to such danger of a nuclear war as today," said the statement, pledging that the DPRK's army and people "are all out" to defend the sovereignty of DPRK and to "prevent a nuclear war of the U.S."



Russia, China Say UN Arms Treaty Vague, Lacks Consensus

MOSCOW, BEIJING, (ST) - Russia has stressed that the International Treaty for Regulating Arms Trade, approved by the UN General Assembly two days ago, needs more study as some of its articles are too vague, while China said that it lacks consensus which may expand differences.

The resolution adopting the landmark treaty was approved by a vote of 154 to 3, with 23 abstentions.

Syria, Democratic Korea and Iran voted against the treaty, while 23 countries abstained including Russia and China.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that additional study will specify whether joining the treaty will serve  Russia's interest or not. 

The statement pointed out that "the treaty is based on countries' commitment to set up regulations that control arms trade and illicit trafficking which may lead these arms to be at the disposal of terrorists and criminals who aim to escalate violence and armed conflicts."

It clarified that the control system has been active in Russia for a long time ago with higher standards than those provided in the treaty.

For its part, the Chinese Foreign Ministry stressed that China supported reaching a treaty “acceptable by all”.

AFP quoted the Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei as saying  at a regular press briefing that insufficient consensus “may expand differences and may even create confrontation which is not helpful to the effectiveness and universality of the treaty”.

 “It is because of the above that China abstained during the vote,” he added, pointing out that China's decision to join the approving of the treaty will be made in the light of developments in China and the international situation.

In a speech he delivered during UN General Assembly voting  on the draft resolution on the adoption of the draft Arms Trade Treaty, Syria's Permanent Representative at the United Nations Bashar al-Jaafari said "we need a good treaty that we do not regret later that it is not politically exploited by some countries against each other.

Al- Jaafari said that Syria did not object to regulating the international arms trade, but opposed the draft because it did not refer to the arming of "non-state terrorist groups".

Some of the countries behind the draft treaty, he said, were "fully engaged in supplying terrorist groups in Syria with all kinds of lethal weapons".

H. Mustafa

Armenian Foreign Minister underlines the importance of stability in the region, particularly in Syria

Tehran, (ST) - Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edward Nalbandian, confirmed the importance of stability in the region, particularly in Syria.

The statement came during a meeting held between  Nalbandian and spokesman of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Ramin Mehmanparast, in Yerevan who renewed Iran's call to stop violence in Syria and resolve the crisis without the interference of other countries, the Iranian news agency IRNA said.

Nalbandian expressed his country's optimism in the results of the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the group of five plus one on Iran's nuclear file, which will be held next Friday and Saturday in Kazakhstan.

Sh. Kh.

Dozens Killed in Afghanistan

In one of the most deadly insurgent attacks in the decade-long war in Afghanistan, nine Taliban fighters dressed as Afghan soldiers stormed a government compound in the western part of the country on Wednesday morning, leaving at least 44 people dead and wounding more than 100 in a hostage standoff.

The complex assault began at around 8:45 a.m., when two suicide attackers detonated explosives packed into an army truck at the entrance gate of the provincial government compound in Farah, according to police officials. After the explosion, which ripped through the mayor’s office and neighboring buildings, insurgents rushed the packed provincial courthouse, taking civilians and a handful of employees hostage.

Afghan security forces surrounded the building, firing at the Taliban fighters tucked away on the second floor. At some point during the nearly seven-hour gunfight, the insurgents took the hostages downstairs to the basement and shot them, the police said.

By 4 p.m., the fight was over, leaving behind a scene of carnage and destruction. The death toll: 34 civilians, 10 Afghan security forces and all nine insurgents, the Farah police said. More than 100 people, mostly civilians, suffered wounds.

The attack highlighted the deteriorating security situation in Farah, a restive province that borders Iran to the west. The last major assault in the province occurred in May, when four insurgents dressed as police officers staged an attack on the governor’s compound, killing at least 11 people and wounding a dozen others. But violent attacks in general have been on the rise recently in the province.

Officials from Farah said the province has become a hotbed for the insurgency and drug traffickers, as the government focuses its resources on more violent areas of the country. Humaira Ayobi, a member of the Parliament representing Farah, said a recent effort by the police to stem the drug trade may have contributed to the violence seen Wednesday. Last month, five police officers were killed in the province while conducting a poppy eradication campaign.

 “Farah is bleeding and crying today,” said Ms. Ayobi. “The province will mourn for weeks.”

On the street where the attack took place on Wednesday, witnesses described a nightmarish scene, with bodies splayed all over. Ambulances carted charred bodies from the buildings, including the offices of the mayor, prosecutor and the governor.

 “When I reached the street I saw that all shops and houses around the courthouse were destroyed,” said Jalil Khan, 47, a civil servant at the customs office. “I saw men, women and some children lying on the ground, bleeding or burned. Some of them didn’t know where they were or what had happened to them.”

The attack in Farah Province coincided with the highly anticipated return of Afghanistan’s powerful intelligence chief, Asadullah Khalid, who was seriously wounded in a December suicide attack. Mr. Khalid, who was treated in the United States and required multiple surgeries, returned to Kabul on Wednesday morning.