China Renews Support for Solving Crisis in Syria Politically

BEIJING ,(ST) _  China today  ( Thursday) expressed hope that  the forthcoming tripartite  meeting  to be held in Geneva tomorrow ( Friday)  between  representatives of  Russia, the USA,  and the UN Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi  will contribute to solving the crisis in Syria by political means.
The  Chinese News Agency Xinhua  quoted the  spokesman for the  Chinese Foreign Ministry Hong Lei as saying  in  a press  conference commenting on the upcoming meeting: "China supports any effort that will accelerate the process of resolving the crisis politically,"  calling on all parties concerned to abide by the consensus reached by the international community, especially the Geneva Statement,  so as to reach a just , peaceful and appropriate  solution to the crisis.

The Chinese official  renewed his country's support for the mediation efforts undertaken by Lakhdar  Brahimi.

T. Fateh

Dispatching Patriot Systems to Turkey Raises Russian Concern – Bogdanov

 MOSCOW,(ST)_ the special representative of the Russian President for the Middle East Affairs  Mikhail Bogdanov, who is also the Russian  Deputy Foreign Minister said on Wednesday he will meet today( Thursday)  in Moscow with the First Deputy of the Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun  Uglo.

Bogdanov added he will discuss with  the Turkish official all aspects pertinent to  the solution of  the crisis in Syria, " However, this meeting is not  linked to constant dispatching  of  Patriot missile systems to Turkey,  a matter which  Moscow is concerned about.  

Such meetings between the two sides are held regularly and the last of which was held  in Ankara  about a month ago.


T. Fateh

President Assad 's Speech to be Contained in Solution to Crisis in Syria – Moscow

MOSCOW,(ST) Russia has expressed hope that the ideas put forward by President Bashar al-Assad concerning international efforts to find  ways to resolve the crisis in Syria, will be adopted .
A statement posted on the website of the Russian Foreign Ministry  on Wednesday  stated that : "The Russian side hopes effective international efforts will continue  to resolve the crisis in Syria, based on the  Geneva  statement of June 2012 and relying on set of ideas contained in the speech of President  Bashar Al-Assad January  6th of this year."

The Russian Foreign  Ministry indicated that  the Syrian leadership  confirmed, in particular, readiness to launch an inter- Syrian  dialogue  and maintain reforms in the country on the ground  of Syria 's sovereignty, security and territorial integrity and on the basis of non-interference in its internal affairs as enshrined in the UN Charter , in other international legislations and Geneva Statement.

"We believe the need to  achieve  a quick and decisive progress towards a political settlement in Syria through  internal Syrian dialogue , according to the  principles of the International Law," the Russian Foreign Ministry statement said,  expressing hope that on this ground, all  sides concerned  to stop acts of violence  and be only  guided by the supreme interests of the Syrian people and the tasks to  achieve  free and democratic  development for Syria."


T. Fateh

Xi: China-Russia ties prioritized in Chinese diplomacy

Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Tuesday said that promoting relations with Russia is a priority for Chinese diplomacy as he met with a Russian delegation here in Beijing.

Xi, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, told Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev that China will continue to push forward a bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination,according to Xinhua.

Patrushev is in Beijing to attend the eighth round of the China-Russia strategic security consultation from Jan. 8 to 9, co-chairing the discussion along with Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo.

The consultation at the beginning of a new year is very timely and necessary, Xi said.

As two constructive forces in promoting healthy development of the international situation and maintaining an international strategic balance, China and Russia should further cooperate, according to the general secretary.

Xi called on the two sides to strengthen mutual political support and coordination in international and regional affairs so as to create a peaceful, secure and stable external environment for their development and revitalization.

He also urged the two countries to jointly uphold the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, safeguard international equity and justice and promote democratization of international relations.

China fully agrees with Russian President Vladimir Putin's proposals on enhancing bilateral cooperation in the economy, trade, energy, investment, finance, aerospace and other fields, Xi told his guest.

In the new year, Patrushev said, Russia is willing to continue strengthening Russia-China high-level exchanges, maintain close communication on major issues, and promote pragmatic cooperation in various areas and cultural exchanges so as to push bilateral coordination on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual trust to a new level.



Political Solution is the Best Way to End Crisis in Syria,says Lei

BEIJING, (ST) – Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei said on Monday that China welcomes any solution that receives acceptance from all sides in Syria in a bid  to end violence.

" the political solution is the best way to end violence as soon as possiple,"Lei said during his regular conference.

"China urges the Syrian government and opposition alike to prioritize the basic and long-term interests of the Syrian people and end violence ,"affirmed Lei.


Pope calls for constructive dialogue in Syria

Pope Benedict XVI has made an urgent appeal to civil and political authorities to work for peace. The Pope’s heartfelt cry came on Monday during his annual address to Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See,according to Vatican Radio .

Speaking to representatives of the 179 States that currently have full diplomatic relations with the Vatican, as well as members of numerous international organizations, Pope Benedict emphasized that world leaders have a grave responsibility to work for peace. They are the first – he said – called to resolve the numerous conflicts causing bloodshed in our human family.

And the Pope went on to list urgent areas of concern starting with Syria .

“I renew my appeal for a ceasefire” – the Pope said – “and for the inauguration as quickly as possible of a constructive dialogue aimed at putting an end to a conflict which will know no victors but only vanquished if it continues”.


Berlusconi Strikes Vital Italy Election Deal With League

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Monday announced an alliance with the devolutionist Northern League which could prevent the center-left forming a stable government after elections next month, according to Reuters.

Berlusconi has been striving for weeks to seal the deal with his estranged former allies to strengthen the center-right bloc, under a strategy to stymie the center-left government which is expected to emerge from a February 24-25 election.

The League had previously refused a pact because of rank-and-file opposition to the scandal-plagued Berlusconi being candidate for prime minister. The media magnate was driven from office a year ago at the height of Italy's economic crisis after he was charged with having sex with an underage prostitute.

In an interview on Italian radio station RTL, Berlusconi left the issue of the premiership open in a future center-right government. He said he would prefer to be the economy minister and that mostly likely Angelino Alfano, secretary of his People of Freedom (PDL) party, would be prime minister.

However he said he would remain head of the PDL and the coalition. "It will be the head of the coalition who would indicate who will be the prime ministerial candidate if we win," said Berlusconi who had previously insisted he himself would be the candidate.

Berlusconi said he had struck the deal early on Monday with Roberto Maroni, leader of the League - which was part of his previous coalition government. There was no immediate comment from the League but Maroni was due to give a news conference later on Monday.

The center-left led by Pier Luigi Bersani has been ahead in opinion polls for months. The latest survey, published on Sunday, said it would win between 38 and 39 percent.

A PDL-League alliance could pull in about 28 per cent of the vote with a centrist alliance under outgoing premier Mario Monti on 14-15 percent, the poll showed.

Under Italy's much-criticized electoral law, Bersani is expected to win a comfortable majority in the lower house.

But in the Senate the distribution of seats is decided on a regional basis and the populous northern regions led by Lombardy return more senators.

By allying with the League in its northern strongholds, Berlusconi hopes to be able to stymie a center-left government in parliament.

The League wants strict controls on immigration and favors giving more power and autonomy to Italy's 20 regions. It wants more tax revenue to go directly to the regions, saying the rich north is picking up the tab for a south it brands as corrupt and economically backward.

Berlusconi said that under the deal the PDL would support Maroni as candidate for president of Lombardy in regional elections.

Berlusconi's party backed Monti's technocrat government for a year before precipitating its fall by withdrawing support last month.

Berlusconi previously suggested Monti could lead the center-right but since the former European Commissioner sided with centrists has launched vitriolic daily attacks on him especially for his introduction of a widely hated property tax.


India: Death Toll from Cold Wave Rises to 140

At least 140 people have died during a three-week-long cold spell sweeping across India's northern state of Uttar Pradesh, news reports said.

As many as 11 deaths occurred in the Barabanki, Sultanpur and Etah districts of India's most populous state on Saturday, broadcaster CNN-IBN reported. The death toll had stood at 107 on Thursday.

Muzaffarnagar was the coldest in the state, with the temperature dipping to 0.3 degrees Celsius, according to the Voice of Russia.

Officials from the state's disaster relief department have denied that the deaths were due to the cold snap. However, reports said many homeless and poor had died from exposure. Some people also died in road accidents due to fog.

In the north, New Delhi and the Himalayan states of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh also experienced cold weather.

Saturday's minimum temperature in the Indian capital was recorded at 1.9 degrees Celsius, the coldest night-time temperature this winter.