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Iran rules out direct N-talks with US
Teheran, July 12
Iran ruled out today holding direct talks with the United States on its nuclear programme. “There is no justification for accepting suggestions to hold negotiations with a country which adopts a bullying attitude towards others,” Mr Hassan Rohani, secretary-general of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, told the state television.

35 killed in Bangladesh, Nepal floods
Dhaka, Kathmandu, July 12
At least 35 persons have been killed and millions stranded in floods sweeping Bangladesh and Nepal. Torrential rains have threatened the closure of Sylhet airport and snapped rail and road links in north and northeastern parts of Bangladesh.


GRAPHIC: SOUTH ASIA FLOODS

France, Iraq restore diplomatic ties
Paris, July 12
France and Iraq restored diplomatic relations today after a 13-year break over Baghdad’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The French Foreign Ministry said the two countries had agreed to install ambassadors quickly.


Russian oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky stands behind bars during his trial in Moscow
Russian oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky stands behind bars during his trial in Moscow on Monday. The fraud trial of Khodorkovsky resumed on Monday as YUKOS, the oil giant of which he is the main owner, came up with a new offer to stop the state from seizing its assets for unpaid taxes.
— Reuters

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

Runners lead a fighting bull from Jandilla's ranch during the sixth day of San Fermin festival in Pamplona
Runners lead a fighting bull from Jandilla's ranch during the sixth day of San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain, on Monday. Eight people have been gored by the bulls, including a local man who was impaled five times, in a frenzied dash through Pamplona in the most dramatic of the bull runs so far this year. — Reuters

Iraq’s Shia leader killed
Baghdad, July 12
Gunmen killed the head of a regional office of one Iraq’s largest Shiite parties in a drive-by shooting south of the capital, police officials said today.

Jap troops to stay in Iraq: Koizumi
Tokyo, July 12
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi vowed today to keep troops in Iraq despite a setback in the weekend elections seen as a verdict on his key policies.

EARLIER STORIES

  Israeli troops push into Gaza
Gaza, July 12
Israeli tanks and armoured bulldozers pushed into the Gaza Strip to demolish what the army called militant gunposts today and Palestinian medics said a man was killed when his house was knocked down.

Protesters target Glaxo
Bangkok, July 12
Protesters besieged GlaxoSmithKline’s stand at the 15th International AIDS Conference on Monday, accusing the company of failing to get its drugs to South Africans with HIV.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan (left) and his wife Nane talk to HIV-infected children at a hospital in Bangkok on Monday. Annan led a UN delegation to visit Bamradnaradoon hospital, hailed by the organisation's AIDS agency as a model for treatment of AIDS patients in southeast Asia. — Reuters photo
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his wife Nane talk to HIV-infected children at a hospital in Bangkok

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Iran rules out direct N-talks with US

Teheran, July 12
Iran ruled out today holding direct talks with the United States on its nuclear programme.

“There is no justification for accepting suggestions to hold negotiations with a country which adopts a bullying attitude towards others,” Mr Hassan Rohani, secretary-general of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, told the state television.

Washington accuses Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons. Teheran says its ambitions are limited to generating electricity from nuclear
reactors.

Mr Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency, had told U S policymakers in March that Iran might be open to a deal and suggested direct US contacts with Teheran, US officials said. Washington broke ties with Teheran following its Islamic revolution in 1979.

Mr Rohani also played down negotiations with Germany, France and Britain and said Iran held talks with them in the past year because the big three European powers initiated the dialogue.

“The other party to the negotiations for us is the International Atomic Energy Agency and we have nothing to do with any other country,” he said.

“If we are talking with the Europeans countries, it is because we have normal relations with them and they took the initiative to do so.”

The IAEA board passed a resolution in June that rebuked Teheran for not fully cooperating with IAEA inspectors.

In retaliation, Iran said it was resuming production and testing of centrifuges, which could be used to enrich uranium, ending an agreement with the European states that it would suspend such activities. — Reuters

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35 killed in Bangladesh, Nepal floods

Dhaka, Kathmandu, July 12
At least 35 persons have been killed and millions stranded in floods sweeping Bangladesh and Nepal.

Torrential rains have threatened the closure of Sylhet airport and snapped rail and road links in north and northeastern parts of Bangladesh.

Atleast 21 persons were killed and thousands rendered homeless due to floods and landslides triggered by incessant rains sweeping different parts of Nepal over the past five days.

Water entered the runway of Osmany International Airport in Sylhet and at least 14 persons have been killed in Sylhet, Sunamganj and Rangunia districts during the past five days, a media report said. About 30 lakh people have been marooned in floodwaters swelled by incessant rains.

Over 70 per cent of northeastern Sylhet town was submerged in flood water which entered several offices and residences and resulted in closure of about 50 educational institutions.

The water level of Surma river in Sylhet and Sunamganj have exceeded the danger mark. The Jamuna, Brahmaputra, Meghna and Padma are also flowing above danger level.

Road and rail links in the affected areas have been severely disrupted.

Landslides also blocked a major highway cutting off Kathmandu from the rest of the Himalayan kingdom.

The floods caused by heavy downpour have severely affected central and eastern Terai, where more than one hundred villages were inundated killing hundreds of cattle.

Water level in Koshi barrage has risen to an alarming level, which could pose a threat to the people residing in border areas, sources said.

The Janakpur-Jaynagar railway, the country’s only rail service has been disrupted due to the inundation of most parts of Jaleshwor and some parts of Janakpurdham municipalities.

The government has been carrying out rescue operations and supplying relief material to the affected people on a war footing. — PTI




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France, Iraq restore diplomatic ties

Paris, July 12
France and Iraq restored diplomatic relations today after a 13-year break over Baghdad’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

The French Foreign Ministry said the two countries had agreed to install ambassadors quickly. France opposed the U S-led war that toppled Saddam Hussein last year but wants a share of reconstruction projects following the war.

“The government of the Republic of France and the government of the Republic of Iraq ... took the decision to re-establish diplomatic relations from July 12, 2004 and to exchange ambassadors without delay,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The two governments are convinced that this decision will contribute to tightening of links and exchanges between France and Iraq and will be in the interest of both countries.”

France has rejected U.S. requests for military help in quelling violence in Iraq. But it has said it is willing to help train Iraqi security forces and supports limited forgiveness of Iraqi debt to help Baghdad.

France has also made clear it wants its firms to have a share of potentially lucrative reconstruction contracts to help rebuild Iraq. — Reuters

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Iraq’s Shia leader killed

Baghdad, July 12
Gunmen killed the head of a regional office of one Iraq’s largest Shiite parties in a drive-by shooting south of the capital, police officials said today.

Abd el-Oun Hassan, the head of the Musayyib office of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, was gunned down late last night, said Col Ahmed Mohammed Ali, the head of the regional police in Musayyib, about 70 km south of Baghdad. — AP

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Jap troops to stay in Iraq: Koizumi

Tokyo, July 12
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi vowed today to keep troops in Iraq despite a setback in the weekend elections seen as a verdict on his key policies.

Mr Koizumi told a news conference that his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) had a tough fight in yesterday’s upper house elections as more than 60 per cent of people opposed his administration’s decision to keep Japanese troops in Iraq.

“Japan needs to continue activities which will be regarded as valued work there,” said Mr Koizumi.

“In line with a UN agreement, Japan wants to play a role as a member of the international community by providing both personnel support by the self-defence forces and material support.”

“The Iraqi President directly asked me to continue supportive activities of the self-defence forces. We will carry out activities suitable to Japan,” he added.

Japan, one of Washington’s staunchest backers over the Iraq war, has around 550 troops in the southern Iraqi city of Samawa providing post-war humanitarian assistance in its most controversial and risky mission since 1945.

Results from the weekend elections showed Mr Koizumi’s LDP won 49 of the 121 seats up for grabs, a loss of one seat. The main opposition democrats won 50 seats. The elections were regarded as an opportunity for the public to deliver a verdict on Koizumi’s decision to keep troops in Iraq and other issues. — AFP

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Israeli troops push into Gaza

Gaza, July 12
Israeli tanks and armoured bulldozers pushed into the Gaza Strip to demolish what the army called militant gunposts today and Palestinian medics said a man was killed when his house was knocked down.

The army said it had removed flimsy shacks and uncompleted structures, but no inhabited buildings in the raid near the town of Khan Younis.

Palestinian medics and witnesses said 70-year-old Mahmoud Khala Sallah was inside a building when it was knocked down. They were unsure if the army could have been aware he was there.

Violence in the Gaza Strip has surged since Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon set out a plan early this year to withdraw troops and settlers from the impoverished territory captured in the 1967 war.

JENIN (West Bank): The Israeli army, in a pre-dawn raid, dynamited the West Bank home of a local Palestinian militant leader wanted in connection with a string of anti-Israeli attacks.

Troops demolished the house of Nasser Hidhjimieh, leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the town of Kabatiyeh, near the town of Jenin in the northern West Bank, witnesses and military sources said.

Hidhjimieh, whose organisation is loosely linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s mainstream Fatah movement, is notably wanted by Israel over a bomb blast along a road in northern Israel which left one Israeli dead in 2001.

Fifteen people were living in his two-storeyed house which was destroyed. — AFP

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Protesters target Glaxo

Bangkok, July 12
Protesters besieged GlaxoSmithKline’s stand at the 15th International AIDS Conference on Monday, accusing the company of failing to get its drugs to South Africans with HIV.

Three years ago, British-based GSK granted a voluntary licence to South African drug maker Aspen Pharmacare to make generic versions of its antiretroviral drugs, which include AZT and lamivudine.

“Since then, not one pill has been produced in the only place on the planet that GSK has granted such voluntary licences,” said Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

GSK spokesman Martin Sutton said the delay was simply a result of the medicine not yet winning approval from South African regulators and GSK remained committed to fighting the pandemic in the developing world.

Local production of cheap generic drugs is viewed as increasingly important as more countries around the world seek to make AIDS treatment widely available.

More than half of the estimated 38 million people infected with the AIDS virus worldwide live in Africa and 8,000 Africans are infected each day. South Africa alone has 5.3 million HIV-positive people, the single highest caseload in the world.
— Reuters


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BRIEFLY

Things hot up at longest concert
HALBERSTADT: A relative rush of activity broke out here this week in the world’s slowest and longest lasting concert as two new notes sounded in a piece of music that is taking a total 639 years to perform in its entirety. The abandoned Buchardi church in Halberstadt, eastern Germany, is the venue for a mind-boggling 639-year-long performance of a piece of music by US experimental composer John Cage (1912-1992). — AFP

Chileans remember Naruda
SANTIAGO: Chileans threw a giant poetry fest on Monday for the 100th birthday of Nobel prize-winning poet, Pablo Neruda, in celebrations that attracted some unlikely admirers of the communist poet. Neruda, who died of prostate cancer at the age 69 shortly after Augusto Pinochet’s 1973 military coup, was one of Chile’s most prolific and internationally acclaimed authors but his work was suppressed during the 17-year military rule following his death. — Reuters

Indian plays in Durban
DURBAN:
After Bollywood movies, South Africa is now waking up to the magic of Indian plays. Two Indian plays, ‘9, Jakhoo Hill’ and ‘Alipha’, which received rave reviews at South Africa’s theatre festival, have opened in Durban. The plays in English are being staged as a part of a larger initiative called Mega Mela and will also run in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria. — PTI

Quake hits Tibet
BEIJING: An earthquake measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale jolted the sparsely populated southwest China’s Tibet autonomous region on Monday. There was no report of any casualty or property damage from the area, the state media said.
— PTI

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