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War on terror: Bush, Aziz to improve tie-up
U S President George W. Bush and Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz have agreed to improve “cooperation and coordination” in the war on terror.

Tamil Tigers agree to hold talks with government
Colombo, January 25
Ending a nearly three-year deadlock in the peace process, Tamil Tiger rebels today agreed to hold talks with the Sri Lankan government in Geneva in mid-February after hectic negotiations with the peace broker Norway.

Tamil Tiger chief negotiator Anton Balasingham talks to the media Tamil Tiger chief negotiator Anton Balasingham (right) talks to the media as political wing leader SP Thamilselvan looks on after the meeting with Norwegian Minister of International Development and Special Peace envoy Erik Solheim in rebel held Kilinochchi, northern Sri Lanka, on Wednesday. — Reuters

8 killed in Maoists attacks
Kathmandu, January 25
At least eight persons, including three security personnel, four Maoists and an Indian were killed when rebels opened fire and triggered a series of explosions at government offices and security posts in west Nepal.




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Blast at Indian consulate
Kabul, January 25
Unidentified attackers threw a and grenade at the Indian consulate in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar while two grenades were thrown on streets in Kabul, security officials said today.

Humour is the spice of romance
London, January 25
Two recent studies have confirmed a long-standing stereotype about flirting — women like men who make them laugh, while men like women who laugh at their jokes.
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War on terror: Bush, Aziz to improve tie-up
Ashish Kumar Sen writes from Washington 

US President George W. Bush and Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz have agreed to improve “cooperation and coordination” in the war on terror.

Mr Aziz met Mr Bush at the White House on Tuesday. A US spokesman later said the meeting “focused on our ongoing efforts to defeat Al-Qaida and to prevent attacks from happening, both against Pakistan and against the USA.”

Speaking with Mr Aziz Mr Bush said, “I think the relationship with Pakistan is a vital relationship for the United States.”

Mr Aziz raised the issue of Kashmir saying, “We want a solution of all disputes, including the Kashmir dispute”.

US analysts and the press have questioned the sincerity of Pakistan’s efforts in the war on terror.

In a scathing editorial on Wednesday, The Washington Post noted that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Mr Aziz boast that Pakistan has “arrested hundreds of Al-Qaida militants and deployed tens of thousands of troops in the border region near Afghanistan”.

“Yet Gen Musharraf has never directed his forces against the Pashtun Taliban militants who use Pakistan as a base to wage war against American and Afghan forces across the border. He has never dismantled the Islamic extremist groups that carry out terrorist attacks against India,” the paper noted.

Indian officials say the flow of terrorists into India from its western neighbour has not shut off, and Pakistan continues to be a source of fighters. Most of these are products of madars across Pakistan.

Despite Gen Musharraf’s repeated assertions that he has shut down madars, the Post noted he “has never cleaned up the madars that serve as a breeding ground for suicide bombers”.

The paper also pointed out that Gen Musharraf had pardoned and protected the “greatest criminal proliferator of nuclear weapons technology in history.” Abdul Qadeer Khan, who aided Libya, North Korea and Iran. “And he has broken promises to give up his military office or return Pakistan to democracy”.

“The consequences of this record are that Al-Qaida has continued to operate from Pakistan, while US and allied troops have been unable to pacify southern Afghanistan,” the paper said.

In his meeting with Mr Bush, Mr Aziz raised Pakistan’s objections to the January 13 US air strike in Damadola, few miles from the Afghan border, that killed 13 persons, including women and children. The US claims four top Al-Qaida leaders were killed in the attack.

The Post dismissed Pakistani criticism of the air strike, saying it was in keeping with Gen Musharraf’s “double game”.

“Gen Musharraf perhaps cannot be forced to side decisively with the United States against the terrorists, as the administration once hoped — though much more could be done to raise the price of his feckless cooperation,” the paper said, adding, “But Mr Bush must take every available measure to eliminate the Al-Qaida and Taliban operations in Pakistan. If targets can be located, they should be attacked — with or without Gen Musharraf’s cooperation.”

Earlier, Post columnist Jim Hoagland wrote: “We’ve got Musharraf right where he wants us. Washington and Islamabad are condemned to such strategic ambivalence. Each is unable to do without the other, while wishing it could”.

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Tamil Tigers agree to hold talks with government

Colombo, January 25
Ending a nearly three-year deadlock in the peace process, Tamil Tiger rebels today agreed to hold talks with the Sri Lankan government in Geneva in mid-February after hectic negotiations with the peace broker Norway.

The announcement of talks came after a rare meeting between the Norwegian International Development Minister Erik Solheim and LTTE supremo Vellupillai Prabhakaran this morning at the rebel-held town of Kilinochchi, the political capital of the Tigers.

The talks would be limited to the implementation of the truce which has come under increasing strain recently, chief negotiator of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Anton Balasingham, told reporters after the closed-door meeting between the Norwegian peace envoy and Prabhakaran.

“Talks on further matters could only take place after complete cessation of the Sri Lankan military’s violent repression of the population in the Government held-areas of the northeast,” he was quoted as saying by the Tamilnet website.

In a separate press conference, Solheim said the talks would focus on strengthening the ceasefire agreement after a surge in violence left 152 persons dead since December

Solheim travelled to Kilinochchi after discussions with President Mahinda Rajapakse here in a bid to save the truce.

“There may be a need for more meetings,” Solheim said. “They would be held in Switzerland or elsewhere in Europe.” He said there is a need “to create a climate that is conducive for peace.”

When asked if both sides had agreed to stop the latest wave of violence, Solheim said “the agreement between the two parties will have to be made at the meeting.”

Solheim described as constructive the step taken by the parties to the conflict to agree to talks.

The Norwegian envoy was travelling back to Colombo for an unscheduled meeting with Rajapakse to convey the breakthrough, diplomats said. — PTI

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8 killed in Maoists attacks

Kathmandu, January 25
At least eight persons, including three security personnel, four Maoists and an Indian were killed when rebels opened fire and triggered a series of explosions at government offices and security posts in west Nepal.

Armed rebels attacked the district police, ward police, district prison, office of Nepal’s National Bank, District Administration Office and Police Training Centre last night in Nepalgunj, 600 km west of Kathmandu, security sources said.

The attacks in the Banke district ended around midnight leaving eight dead, they said.

Four Maoist rebels, two policemen and a soldier were killed during the attack, an army official said.

Kantipuronline website, reported that an Indian national was also shot dead in the cross-firing. There was, however, no official confirmation.

There were over 10 pro-democracy activists detained from recent agitation and some Maoist cadres detained inside the district police office when the rebels attacked, the police said.

The Maoists might have attacked the police station to free their cadres. — PTI

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Blast at Indian consulate

Kabul, January 25
Unidentified attackers threw a and grenade at the Indian consulate in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar while two grenades were thrown on streets in Kabul, security officials said today.

The grenade was thrown at the Indian mission in Kandahar from a speeding vehicle yesterday. No one was hurt, said deputy provincial police chief, Abdul Hakim.

In Kabul, two grenades went off yesterday but no one was hurt, the police said. — Reuters

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Humour is the spice of romance

London, January 25
Two recent studies have confirmed a long-standing stereotype about flirting — women like men who make them laugh, while men like women who laugh at their jokes.

Eric Bressler of Westfield State College, Massachusetts, and colleague Sigal Balshine of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, asked more than 200 male and female college students to examine photos of members of the opposite sex, reports the online edition of the science journal Nature.

Some had funny quotes pinned beneath them, such as: “My high school was so rough we had our own coroner”. Others had bland ones: “I’d rather walk to school than take the bus.” Women ranked the humorous men as better potential partners, and as more friendly, fun and popular, the researchers found.

Men’s view of a woman, on the other hand, appeared to be uninfluenced by her wit, according to the study published in Evolution & Human Behaviour.

Bressler suspected that men and women do, in fact, value a sense of humour in a mate but that they might be looking for slightly different things: women valuing an ability to be funny and men valuing an ability to see the joke.

In the second study, Bressler and his colleagues asked nearly 130 students to imagine two people of the opposite sex. One fictional character was funny; the other appreciated another person’s humour. The team then asked each student whom they would choose for a relationship.

Women generally preferred men who were funny, while men favoured a woman who thought he was funny, the team reported.

According to one theory, women prefer funny men because their wit reveals an active and healthy brain - and a fine set of underlying genes. If this theory holds true, a woman choosing a funny man as a partner is more likely to have genetically healthy children who will survive and reproduce themselves. — IANS

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