Russia, Iran For Halting Violence in Syria

MOSCOW, (ST)_The Russian President's Special Envoy to the Middle East, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov discussed on Monday with the Iranian Ambassador in Moscow Mohammad Reza Sajjadi the situation in the Middle East, particularly in Syria.

"both sides underscored that there is a necessity to  end violence in Syria  and to launch a speedy political settlement through broad dialogue that includes all Syrians ," said The Russian Foreign Ministry in a statement released after the said meeting.

Russia and Iran reiterated  the importance of the  dialogue that leads to ''achieving national accord according to the Geneva communiqué.''

Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry recalled  that ''Syria had hailed Russia's efforts for solving the crisis in Syria, especially the anticipated  plans as regards holding  an international conference on Syria.''

Bogdanov Receives Haddad

The Russian foreign ministry said in a statement that the Russian president's Middle East envoy, Mikhail Bogdanov received in Moscow on Monday the Syrian ambassador to Russia, Riad Haddad.

"Haddad voiced Syria's appreciation for efforts exerted  by Russia for a speedy solution to the crisis in Syria according to the action group's statement issued in Geneva on June 30, 2012, and its call for holding an international conference on Syria, "added the Russian foreign ministry statement



Syria,Venezuela Hand in Hand

CARACAS,(ST) – "Venezuela and Syria…Two Peoples, One Resistance."is the title of the political and cultural event which was organized by the Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela in Caracas.

The Syrian Embassy in Caracas has a helping hand in coordinating the event  coordination which was attended by a large number of the Syrian community, in addition to Venezuelan MPs, officers and representatives of several political parties.

 The USP representative  in San Juan, Elliot Hernandez, delivered a speech in which he condemned the imperialist American attack on Syria that has been going on for two years carried out by the agents of imperialism inside and outside Syria.

Hernandez underscored that  when those agents failed to accomplish the mission, Israel stepped up to carry out the task.

 "Israel will never be able to undermine the steadfastness of the Syrian leadership and people, "emphasized Hernandez.

"Venezuela supports Syria in all fields . Both countries have common interests as regards  resisting the forces of the Western hegemony, the strong relationship between  President Bashar Al-Assad and the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will continue under the leadership of newly –elected President Nicolas Maduro.

For his part, the Syrian Ambassador to Venezuela, Gassan Abbas, briefed attendees  on the latest developments of the situation in Syria, especially after the Israeli aggression.

"we do appreciate the Venezuelan people and government's stances in supporting  Syria, "underlined Abbas.


Gates: US Military Involvement in Syria, a Mistake

Former US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has warned that deepening US military involvement in Syria crisis would be a "mistake," warning the outcome would be unpredictable and mess, according to the Al-Alam website.

In an interview with CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday, Gates said, "I thought it was a mistake in Libya, and I think it is a mistake in Syria, even if we had intervened more significantly in Syria a year ago or six months ago. We overestimate our ability to determine outcomes.”

Caution, particularly in terms of arming these groups and in terms of US military involvement, is in order," he said.

"Anybody who says, "It's going to be clean. It's going to be neat. You can establish safe zones, and it'll be just swell,' well, most wars aren't that way," he said.

Gates, who served under both George W Bush and President Barack Obama, was US defense secretary in 2011 when the United States joined a NATO-led air operation in Libya that helped rebels topple Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi.

On May 1st, senior US administration officials announced that the US will directly arm the armed groups to topple the Syrian government.

The administration, according to the officials, is also considering supplying what is called "nonlethal" military equipment to terrorist groups in Syria.

H. M

Source: Al-Alam

Pakistan election: Sharif edges closer to majority

Nawaz Sharif appears on course to secure a majority in Pakistan's parliament and form the next government after claiming victory in Saturday's election,according to BBC.

Unofficial results suggest his Pakistan Muslim League has won easily, though he has reportedly opened talks with independents to guarantee a majority.

He has already been congratulated by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Mr Sharif is set to become prime minister for the third time.

Former cricketer Imran Khan, whose Movement for Justice Party (PTI) is in a close fight for second place, has promised to provide genuine opposition.

  Nawaz Sharif has a record of delivering high-profile infrastructure projects. This time he is promising a bullet train between Karachi and Peshawar.”

Analysts say Mr Sharif, 63, is in a far stronger position than the outgoing Pakistan People's Party (PPP) which led a weak coalition often on the verge of collapse.

The PPP of late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto appears to have been badly beaten in the election. It was one of several secular parties unable to campaign freely due to Taliban attacks.

Pakistani media say Mr Sharif's PML-N has so far captured well over 100 seats with the PTI and the PPP on around 30 each.

Analysts said the PML-N was likely to get around 130 seats and should be able to make up the required majority of 137 with support from independents and small parties.

Once it achieves a majority, Mr Sharif's party would be allocated a majority of 70 other parliamentary seats reserved for women and minorities.

An election commission spokesman said turnout had been around 60%. In 2008 it was 44%.

The election appears to have paved the way for the first transition from one elected government to another in a country prone to military takeovers.

Mr Sharif - who was toppled in a military coup in 1999 and spent years in exile - spent Sunday in talks on forming a government.

Imran Khan, still bedridden after a fall at a campaign rally, said the election would boost Pakistan's young democracy.

During his election campaign, Mr Sharif said he would end Pakistan's involvement in the US-led war on terror.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he hoped for a "new course" in relations between India and Pakistan.

"PM extends his congratulations to Mr Nawaz Sharif and his party for their emphatic victory in Pakistan's elections," he said on his Twitter account.

He invited Mr Sharif to go to India "at a mutually convenient time".

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he hoped for co-operation to root out what he called terrorist sanctuaries.

Both Pakistan and Afghanistan are engaged in a long battle with Taliban Islamist militants.



Russia’s Mediterranean Task Force to Include Nuclear Subs – Navy Chief

MOSCOW  – Russia’s Mediterranean task force will comprise 5-6 warships and may be enlarged to include nuclear submarines, Navy Commander Adm. Viktor Chirkov said on Sunday,according to RIA Novosti.

“Overall, already from this year, we plan to have 5-6 warships and support vessels [in the Mediterranean Sea], which will be replaced on a rotating basis from each of the fleets – the Black Sea, Baltic, Northern and, in some cases, even the Pacific Fleet. Depending on the scope of assignments and their complexity, the number of warships in the task force may be increased,” Chirkov told RIA Novosti.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu earlier said a decision to deploy a permanent task force in the Mediterranean to defend Russia’s interests in the area had been made.

The Russian navy commander also said nuclear submarines could be deployed in the Mediterranean, if necessary.

“Possibly. In a perspective. They [submarines] were present there during the existence of the 5th squadron. There were both nuclear and diesel submarines there. Everything will depend on the situation,” he said.

The Soviet Union maintained its 5th Mediterranean Squadron in that sea from 1967 until 1992. It was formed to counter the US Navy 6th Fleet during the Cold War, and consisted of 30-50 warships and auxiliary vessels at different times.

Russia also plans to use its Mediterranean task force for missions in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the country’s Navy chief said.

“No doubt, if necessary, when some tasks arise in other nearby regions, in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the task force may be used,” Chirkov said.

Now the Russian Navy is training officers who will perform their duties at sea on a permanent basis, he said.

“These persons must be comprehensively trained to solve tasks not only in the Mediterranean but also in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans,” he said.

The headquarters of Russia’s Mediterranean taskforce will be set up already in the summer of 2013, he said.

“The headquarters will be established in the summer of this year and its officers will stay aboard one of the flagships in the Mediterranean Sea,” he said.


Pakistan election: Nawaz Sharif 'set for victory'

Former Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif is celebrating with his supporters, amid early signs that his party will be the largest after parliamentary elections, according to BBC.

Media projections based on partial results suggest a big lead for Mr Sharif's Muslim League, and he has already claimed victory.

The election should lead to the country's first transition from one elected government to another.

The turnout was huge but the poll was marred by violence.

In Karachi, the Pakistan Taliban said they planted a bomb which killed 11 people and wounded 40 others.

The bomb was placed outside the office of the Awami National Party.

There were also attacks in Balochistan and the north-western city of Peshawar.

Of the many surprises thrown up by Pakistani elections, the most important is the possibility that twice Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could win a straight majority instead of having to cobble together a coalition, as was earlier expected. It will make the job of decision making simpler.

But it will also put Mr Sharif into a tough situation. As an opposition leader, he has distanced himself from the outgoing government's fight against militancy, and has generally leaned towards the religious right-wing. But with the looming Nato withdrawal from Afghanistan, he will be under pressure to revisit this policy.

Analysts attribute his victory largely to his promises of correcting Pakistan's energy supply and encouraging economic growth. Since the bulk of his support is confined to the province of Punjab, he will need to work for a broader consensus across the country if he is to succeed in meeting these challenges.

An election commission spokesman said they hoped for a turnout of 60-80%. In 2008 it was 44%.

No official results have yet been released, but unofficial partial results suggested that Mr Sharif's party was ahead in more than 100 of the 272 directly elected parliamentary seats.

It appears that Mr Sharif's party will fall short of a simple majority in the National Assembly.

But in a speech at his party headquarters in the north-eastern city of Lahore, Mr Sharif said that the Muslim League (PML-N) was sure to emerge as the largest party.


"We should thank Allah that he has given PML-N [Muslim League] another chance to serve you and Pakistan."

"I appeal for all parties to come to the table and sit with me and solve the country's problems."

Mr Sharif's apparent victory is largely confined to his native Punjab province, which has nearly 60% of the country's population, and so he will be compelled to look for support from the three smaller provinces for greater legitimacy.

But our correspondent says that even if he had got as few as 90 seats he would still have been able to put together a coalition.


Turkey car bombs plot to derail Syria conference – Pushkov

The Russian Lower House’s foreign affairs head Alexey Pushkov tweeted Saturday that blaming the Reyhanli bombings on the Syrian government betrays a design to derail the proposed international conference on Syria and justify foreign military intervention in this Middle Eastern country, according toVoice of Russia, RIA.

Meeting in Moscow Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry agreed to convene an international conference which would resume attempts taken at last June’s Geneva conference on Syria to persuade the Syrian government and the opposition to sit down for talks.

On Saturday morning, two car bombs exploding in the Turkish town of Reyhanlileft 40 people dead and dozens of others injured.


Russia, UK Have Common Interest in Stabilizing Syria - Putin


BOCHAROV RUCHEI,SOCHI(ST)-Russia and the United Kingdom have common interest in preserving Syria’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, Russian President Vladimir Putin said after talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron,according to RIA Novosti.

The UK premier arrived in Russia’s Black Sea resort city of Sochi on Friday to discuss a wide range of issues, although it is expected that Syria is likely to top the agenda.

Putin said at talks, which were initiated by Cameron, the sides discussed the options for a positive development of a situation in Syria and also “a number of joint steps” to settle the ongoing crisis.

The Russian leader said Moscow and London have “common interest in a speedy end to the violence, the launch of a peace process and the preservation of Syria’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.”