World In Review 2012 – Compiled By Dinouk Colombage
Burma Leader Thein Sein In Japan To Talk Investment
Burmese President Thein Sein has arrived in Japan for a five-day visit expected to focus on financial aid and debt relief.
His visit, the first to Japan by a Burmese leader in 28 years, comes as EU nations prepare to ease sanctions. Thein Sein’s administration has embarked on a process of reform since it came to power in November 2010, ending decades of military rule.
The military-backed nominally civilian government has freed political prisoners and made concessions that have brought pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party back into the political process.
During his visit, Thein Sein will hold talks with Japanese leader Yoshihiko Noda. Officials say they will discuss a solution to Burma’s debt to Japan, its biggest creditor.
On Thursday diplomats in Brussels told media they expected a “big chunk” of current EU sanctions against Burma to be suspended when foreign ministers met in Luxemburg on Monday. According to the sources, the travel ban and asset freeze for many government officials would end. Only the arms embargo would stay in place, they said. Aid and development money would be allowed into the country.
The US and Australia have already eased some sanctions on Burma following the political reforms. On Thursday US Senator Jim Webb said the US should go further to reward Thein Sein’s “bold leap” on reform.
“In all of these situations there’s a moment in time you have to take advantage of,” the senator told the Associated Press news agency.
“We should have some protections in there, but we should move forward on trade.”
Parliament is due to reconvene in Burma on Monday. Despite the recent poll victory of Ms Suu Kyi’s party, it remains heavily dominated by the military-backed ruling party.
A quarter of the seats are also reserved for the military.
Iranian Diplomat Accused Of Brazil Child Molestation
Brazil says it will seek an explanation from Iran after an Iranian diplomat was accused of molesting underage girls at a swimming pool in Brasilia.
The Iranian official was questioned by police following complaints from parents but released after invoking diplomatic immunity. Iran’s embassy denied the allegations, and said they were the result of a “cultural misunderstanding”.
Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota called them “very worrying”. The un-named Iranian diplomat was accused of inappropriately touching girls between 9 and 15 years old at a pool in a private club last weekend, Brazilian media reported.
The father of one of the girls told the G1 website that the diplomat was almost lynched by angry parents before security staff intervened. “People wanted to kill him,” the unnamed father said.
The Iranian embassy said the allegations were the result of “a misunderstanding resulting from differences in cultural behaviour”.
It also accused the Brazilian media of deliberately sensationalising the incident. But Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota said he was taking the allegations very seriously and would ask the Iranian embassy for clarification before deciding what action to take. “Personally I would consider it unacceptable if any Brazilian diplomat conducted himself in this manner in the country in which he was accredited,” Patriota said.
Ukraine’s YuliaTymoshenko Stands New Trial
Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was put on trial on new tax evasion charges Thursday, despite widespread concern about her health as a prison inmate. Tymoshenko, the country’s top opposition leader, is already serving a seven-year prison term after being convicted of abuse of office in a case the West has condemned as politically motivated.
Prosecutors also have charged Tymoshenko with evading tens of millions of hryvna (several million dollars) in taxes while heading an energy company in the mid-1990s.
She did not appear at the trial in the eastern city of Kharkiv on Thursday due to a severe back problem.Tymoshenko denies all the charges against her and says they are part of a campaign by her long-time foe, President Viktor Yanukovych, to bar her from politics. Yanukovych narrowly defeated her in 2010 presidential elections. Dr. Karl Max Einhaeupl of Berlin’s Charite clinic, who has examined Tymoshenko, told the Russian state-owned Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper that she was suffering from a herniated disk, was in intense pain and needed urgent treatment at a specialized medical facility. “I can tell you with full confidence: she is ill,” Einhaeupl was quoted as saying in the paper’s Thursday issue. “She practically cannot move and is reduced to lying down most of the time.”
In a bow to Western pressure, Ukraine’s government has offered to treat Tymoshenko at a hospital in Kharkiv, but Tymoshenko said she would only agree to the treatment if the hospital is approved by her German doctors. The Health Ministry on Thursday cited a report by Einhaeupl and his colleagues as saying the hospital meets European medical standards. Officials at Charite clinic and Tymoshenko’s office declined to comment Thursday.
(courtesy Huffington Post)
Pakistan Plane Crash: 127 Feared Dead
A Bhoja Airline’s Islamabad-bound maiden flight # B4-213 has crashed near Chaklala airbase on Friday, Geo News reported.
According to sources, a Boeing 737 with 118 passengers and nine crew members on board, which flew from Karachi at 5:00 pm was supposed to land in Islamabad at 6:40 pm, but crashed just before touchdown.
According to sources in Civil Aviation Authority, the flight was given clearance to land but it lost contact with the control tower minutes before the crash reports.
Rescue teams including Pakistan army personnel have rushed to the crash site.
Saifur Rehman, an official from the police rescue team said the plane came down in Hussain Abad village, about three kilometres (two miles) from the main Islamabad highway.
“Fire erupted after the crash. The wreckage is on fire, the plane is completely destroyed. We have come with teams of firefighters and searchlights and more rescuers are coming,” Rehman told Geo television.
Rescuers say the plane’s wrecked fuselage was ablaze when they arrived at the site with dead bodies and body parts strewn all over the place.
Reportedly Bhoja Airlines had bought this very aircraft from Shaheen Airlines after it was scrpped by the latter for its compromised flight-worthiness.
Ministry of Defence and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have confirmed the reports of crash.
Inclement weather has been held responsible for the crash.
Bhoja Airline officials are yet unavailable for comments.
All hospitals in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi have been put on high alert after the crash.
In July 2010, an Airbus 321 passenger jet operated by the private airline Airblue crashed into hills overlooking Islamabad while coming in to land after a flight from Karachi, killing 152 people on board. (The News)