Obama nominates John Kerry as Secretary of State

President Barack Obama on Friday nominated Senator John Kerry as his next secretary of state, a senior administration official said, making the first move in an overhaul of his national security team heading into a second term.

“He is not going not need a lot of on-the-job training,” Mr. Obama said, standing alongside Mr. Kerry at the White House. “Few individuals know as many presidents and prime ministers or grasp our policies as firmly as John Kerry.”



South Sudan: UN peacekeeping mission’s helicopter crashes killing all crew members



A United Nations helicopter has crashed in eastern South Sudan, killing all four crew members onboard, the world body’s peacekeeping operation in the country reported today.

“The helicopter was not carrying any passengers,” the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) added in a news statement. “The Mission extends its heartfelt condolences to the families of the crew.”

UNMISS has begun an investigation to establish the circumstances around the crash, which occurred near the settlement of Likuangole, the state of Jonglei, in the country’s east.


Putin: Peace in Syria can only be achieved through talks.


President Vladimir Putin said Friday that peace in Syria can only be achieved through talks.

Putin’s statement  came at the end of talks with EU leaders in Brussels .

He said that a lasting peace in Syria can only be reached through a peace agreement that would ensure the protection of various religious and ethnic groups in Syria.


Lavrov to RT: ‘We are not in the business of regime change’


Lavrov believes that West governments, which tend to pursue immediate intervention, have missed many opportunities to actually help end the crisis in Syria. This is as Russia made several bids to find a peaceful solution for the violence, but was undermined by those unwilling to respect the agreements.

“Some of the regional players were suggesting to us: ‘Why don't you tell President Assad to leave? We will arrange for some safe haven for him,’” Lavrov revealed, adding that if indeed those who suggested this had this in mind, they should have taken it directly to Assad.

“Why shall they use us as a postman? If President Assad is interested – this must be discussed directly with him,” he stressed.

Lavrov also commented on why NATO was so eager to deploy Patriot missiles on Turkey's border with Syria – and which country was the actual target.

While many analysts say the Patriot system's deployment in Turkey suggests that it could be targeted at Iran, Lavrov confirmed that “the configuration as it is being presented in the media really looks like it could be used against Iran.”

Stay tuned for the full interview with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday, December 24.



Putin: Ban on US Adoptions is ‘Adequate Reaction’

During the annual big conference at the International Trade Center in Krasnaya Presnya, 20 December 2012, Russian President Vladimir Putin answers journalists' questions.

Answering the first question at his annual international press conference in Moscow, Vladimir Putin said he supported the ban on US adoptions of Russian children, according to RT.

The question dealt with the ban on adoption of Russian orphans by US citizens, approved by Lower House in second reading as part of a package of measures drafted as retaliation to the US Magnitsky Act.

Putin answered that the Magnitsky Act should be prioritized as it is a deliberately unfriendly move aimed against Russia.

They replace one anti-Russian law with another and this indicates that our foreign partners are living in the past and intend to maintain the relations rooted in the standoff between the two systems, he stated.

As for the adoption ban Putin said that to his knowledge, the majority of Russians disapprove of foreign adoptions. He added that he fully agreed with Prime Minister Medvedev who said that Russia should develop its own adoption system.

The President said the amendment is not against adoptions, but it’s a measure against the US courts and laws that prevent proper control over adopted children by Russian diplomats. Putin called such practice a humiliation and noted that no one should tolerate such an attitude.

I think the answer from the State Duma is very emotional but still adequate, the President concluded.

With December 21, 2012 quickly approaching, the President’s critics joke:“Putin promises too much. He must know for sure when the world will end.” The date picked for his media conference – just a day before the rumored ‘doomsday’ – was also subject of ironic comments.

“I know when the end of the world will come,” Putin stated. “In about 4.5 billion years,” he said, adding that the sun’s life is expected to end by then and the “reactor will turn off.” But before that, the sun will become a white dwarf, the President observed.

Decision on South Ossetia, Abkhazia independence irreversibleSpeaking about Moscow-Tbilisi relations, Putin said that Georgia’s incumbent President Mikhail Saakashvili brought the situation to a deadlock.

“To be honest, I’m not quite sure how to get out of it,” he admitted. “But we would really like to normalize relations with Georgia.”

Putin stressed that Russia cannot change its decision on the recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The Georgian leadership refuses to recognize the two republics independence and keeps accusing Russia of “occupying” their territory.

Moscow welcomes the positive signals coming from Georgia after the power shift following the parliamentary elections in the former Soviet republic, Vladimir Putin said.


Russia reiterates firm stance towards crisis in Syria

MOSCOW,(ST)-Michael Bugdanov,the Special Representative of the Russian President for the Middle East Affairs and Deputy Foreign Minister ,meets on Wednesday Syria's ambassador to Moscow Riyad Hadad.

Talks dealt with latest developments in Syria.

During the meeting, both sides exchanged frank views on the current situation in Syria ."Russia reiterated its firm stance as regards a rapid political solution to the crisis in Syria on the base of Geneva statement, "said Russian Foreign Ministry.

For his part,Alexie Pushkov,Chairman of the State Duma Committee for International Affaires,made it clear that the US and what so-called "friends of Syria "signed Geneva statement in one hand and arming and funding armed groups in another hand.

"They(the US and "friends of Syria" )behind the failure of UN ex-envoy Kofi Annan's plan,"Pushkov asserted.



Syria confronts extremists, says India's Ambassador in Damascus

DAMASCUS,(ST)_Syria is confronting extremist movements that do not respect Man's life, India's Ambassador in Damascus V.P.Haran said on Tuesday.

In a cordial speech delivered on the occasion of concluding his task as an ambassador to Syria, Haran said the Syrian people are able to move towards peace and realize development and national reconciliation despite current crisis.

"India accords much attention to events taking place in Syria through its work in the UN Security Council", the ambassador said, noting that he explained to his country's foreign ministry the real image of the events in Syria.

Indian Foreign Ministry has been getting information directly via  the embassy in Damascus, not through  the media means .

Despite the current crisis, India's cooperation relation with Syria has developed, especially in field of education through offering scholarships, Haran said.

Haran was submitted a memorial gift as an appreciation for his effort to cement ties between the two countries (Syria and India).

The gift was given by Deputy Foreign Minister, Ahmad Arnos, who gave a speech in which he underscored the strong historical relations between the two friendly countries in all domains.

"Syria and India share the belief that Syria would be safe and strong as it was before," said Arnos, thanking India for all its efforts in the UN Security Council and international and regional activities and its support for international principles of non-intervention in countries' internal affairs.

Number of friendly countries' ambassadors attended the reception organized by the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry on the occasion of the Indian ambassador mission's end in  Syria.


Veteran Journalist Says The Media Is Totally Misreporting What's Happening In Syria


Veteran war correspondent Patrick Cockburn of The Independent has been in Damascus for 10 days and says he is "struck by the fact that the situation in areas of Syria I have visited is wholly different from the picture given to the world both by foreign leaders and by the foreign media."

Last week NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that Syrian government was on the brink of collapse, and there have been multiple reports that terrorists  are closing in on the capital .

But the "best informed Syrians and foreign diplomats" told Cockburn that recent attacks on the capital have been "thrown back by a government counteroffensive.

Cockburn drove north 100 miles to Homs and found that all but the Old City of Syria's third largest city is in government control. And the director of the military hospital covering much of southern Syria told him that the number of wounded arriving every day "indicates sniping, assassinations and small-scale ambushes, but not a fight to the finish."

Prepared by :M.D