Russia to host APEC summit on September 8-9, 2012

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev

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November 14, 2010 (KATAKAMI / RIA NOVOSTI) — Russia will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit on September 8-9, 2012, a source in the APEC secretariat said on Sunday.

“Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said at a working meeting of the APEC forum today that Russia will host the summit on the Russian Island on September 8-9, 2012,” the official said.

YOKOGAMA, November 14

PM Netanyahu asks ministers to back 90-day settlement freeze

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

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November 14, 2010 (KATAKAMI / YNET) — Netanyahu convenes top government ministers for late-night session on American proposal, asks them to approve construction moratorium in West Bank in exchange for US veto on anti-Israel initiatives in UN.

The forum of top seven government ministers convened Saturday night at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem to discuss the latest American proposal for renewing direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Just a month after he vowed that construction in the West Bank would continue until the Palestinian Authority recognizes Israel as a Jewish state, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked his ministers to approve a 90-day settlement construction freeze.

Netanyahu apparently succumbed to the ongoing US pressure following a lengthy meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The US proposal presented to the ministers is premised on a construction moratorium extension for another three months. PM Netanyahu apparently reached an understanding with Washington that the building freeze would not apply to Jerusalem, and that no further moratorium would be sought following the 90-day period.

Earlier Saturday, a close associate of PM Netanyahu hinted at the proposal, declaring that he wouldn’t “bet on a full freeze” extension to be implemented.

20 advanced fighter jets

In exchange for a freeze extension, the US would object to international attempts to force a diplomatic agreement on Israel in the UN and in other global forums, while utilizing the American veto power in the UN Security Council.

According to the proposal, the US would also boost its resistance to the de-legitimization campaign against Israel and to attempts by Arab states to deprive Israel’s right to self-defense.

Moreover, the US Administration would ask Congress to approve the sale of another 20 advanced fighter jets to Israel worth some $3 billion. This would supplement a comprehensive future Israeli-American security agreement, to be signed alongside a peace deal, in the aims of addressing Israel’s security needs in any future treaty. (*)

U.K. Foreign Secretary urges Palestinians to rejoin peace talks

Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyau meets British Foreign Minister William Hague on November 4, 2010 in Tel Aviv, Israel. Willian Hague is on a two-day official visit to Israel his first as foreign secretary. Diplomatic tension rose after a high-level security and defence meeting was cancelled on November 3, 2010 due to a row over universal jurisdiction legislation in the UK. (Photo Moshe Milner/GPO/Getty Images)

 

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November 13, 2010 (KATAKAMI / HAARETZ) — Ahead of trip to U.S. next week, William Hague calls on Mahmoud Abbas to return to stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks as soon as possible.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague has urged Palestinians to rejoin Middle East peace talks, before discussions in the U.S. next week.

Hague said he told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a phone call on Saturday that he was disappointed by Israeli plans to build new Jewish homes in East Jerusalem.

But he urged Abbas to return to the stalled talks as soon as possible. He said he would discuss the situation with U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton during a visit to Washington next week.

U.S.-sponsored direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks broke down on September 26 when a 10-month Israeli freeze on West Bank settlement construction expired. Abbas has said he would not conduct peace talks with Israel while settlement construction is taking place.

Earlier this month, Hague visited Israel and the Palestinian territories in his first visit to the region since taking office in May. (*)

U.K. Foreign Secretary Statement on Aung San Suu Kyi's release

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November 13, 2010 (KATAKAMI / FCO.GOV.UK) — “Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s arbitary detention for most of the last 20 years has been deeply unjust. Her fortitude in the face of this outrage has been inspirational.”

“I welcome news of her release.  She must now be allowed to assume a role of her choosing in the political life of her country without further hindrance or restriction.”

“Last week’s sham elections will not bring peace and prosperity to Burma.  The regime now needs to release the other 2,100 political prisoners and begin a genuine dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and all opposition and ethnic groups.  These remain the crucial first steps to solving Burma’s many problems and addressing the pressing needs of its people.”  (*)

British Prime Minister David Cameron has welcomed the release of Aung San Suu Kyi

British Prime Minister David Cameron

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November 13, 2010 (KATAKAMI / NUMBER 10.GOV.UK) — The Nobel Peace Prize winner has been detained for 15 of the past 21 years.

The PM said:

“This is long overdue. Aung San Suu Kyi is an inspiration for all of us who believe in freedom of speech, democracy and human rights.

Her detention was a travesty, designed only to silence the voice of the Burmese people.

Freedom is Aung San Suu Kyi’s right. The Burmese regime must now uphold it.”  (*)

Bulgarian prime minister adds puppy to Putin's pet collection

Bulgarian prime minister adds puppy to Putin's pet collection

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November 13, 2010 (KATAKAMI / RIA NOVOSTI) — A fluffy puppy was added to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s menagerie after talks with Bulgarian Premier Boyko Borisov on Saturday in Sofia.

Borisov gave Russia’s “man of action” a Bulgarian Karakachan puppy after sealing a gas deal. Putin accepted the new family member, hugging it close to his chest and kissing it on its nose.

A Siberian tiger cub was given to Putin for his 56th birthday two years ago. The young tigress, named Mashenka, lives in a zoo.

His most famous pet, however, still remains his Labrador Connie, given to him when he was president by Russian Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu on New Year’s Eve in 2001. Some people say this is the reason why Shoigu is still in his job.

He is also the owner of a cat (who is reported to be living within the Kremlin walls), two poodles, one she-goat and her offspring given by former Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov (some people say it’s the reason why he lost his job).

The Russian premier, though, seems to like horses most of all: shots of a horse-riding Rambo-like Putin emerge in media outlets every now and again.

Last but not least, the former KGB agent is also in possession of two rare creatures: a Persian gazelle given to him by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev in 2002 and named Vlada after Putin; and a crystal crocodile given by former Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin in the same year.

“The crocodile is the only animal that doesn’t back off,” Voronin famously said.

MOSCOW, November 13

Israel's Netanyahu unveils U.S. plan for new talks

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a Likud party meeting at parliament in Jerusalem October 25, 2010.

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November 13, 2010 (KATAKAMI / Reuters) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed senior ministers a U.S. plan for resuming peace talks with Palestinians, including a 90-day settlement freeze, a diplomatic source told reporters Saturday.

The plan also includes a pledge not to seek any extension to the settlement freeze after the 90-day period, a vow to veto any attempts at the United Nations to force a unilateral peace deal and an agreement on supplying Israel with more war planes.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, renewed under Washington’s sponsorship on September 2, broke down a few weeks later when Israel balked at renewing a settlement moratorium.

Netanyahu met his top “Forum of Seven” ministers a day after returning from a week-long U.S. tour that included talks on Thursday with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at which she unveiled the plan he showed his cabinet, the source said.

Netanyahu hopes he may win approval for the plan from his pro-settler cabinet later this week, political sources said.

Among the pledges offered to Israel by Washington, was a guarantee to veto any resolutions brought to the United Nations Security Council that seek “to impose a political settlement on Israel,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had no immediate comment. Officials speaking on condition of anonymity said the Palestinian leader was likely to wait to see whether Israel approved the ideas before issuing any comment.

AN ADDITIONAL FREEZE

Under the plan Israel would “declare an additional suspension of construction” in the West Bank, land it captured from Jordan in a 1967 war, for 90 days. Building begun since a moratorium ended in September, would be halted, the source said.

The proposed construction freeze would not include East Jerusalem, an area Israel has annexed as part of its capital in a move never recognized internationally and which Palestinians want as capital of any future state.

Washington would also undertake to veto resolutions deemed anti-Israel in the U.N. Security Council and other international organizations, the source said, a pledge that could make Israel less vulnerable to threats made by some Palestinians to declare statehood unilaterally in the event that peace talks fail.

The Obama Administration would also ask Congress to approve the supply of $3 billion worth of warplanes to Israel “to maintain its qualitative edge” in the region, the source said.

The United States would further sign a more comprehensive deal to enhance its substantial security aid to Israel as part of any agreement concluded with the Palestinians.

Israeli officials said Netanyahu, who faces a tough political sell within his own coalition on the settlement issue, had pushed Clinton for the broad understandings.

“The chances of reaching a peace agreement will be improved significantly by achieving comprehensive security understandings between Israel and the United States,” Netanyahu said in New York before his talks with Clinton began. (*)

Netanyahu associate : Don't bet on full freeze

Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu (R) meets U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on November 7, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Netanyahu is on a five day visit to the U.S. to discuss the ongoing Mideast peace process. (Photo Avi Ohayon/GPO via Getty Images)

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Top seven government ministers scheduled to convene Saturday night, hear about PM’s meeting with Clinton.

November 13, 2010 (KATAKAMI / YNET) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was scheduled to convene the forum of top seven ministers Saturday night in order to present US proposals and agreements secured during his meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The US is pressing Israel to resume direct talks with the Palestinians and extend the settlement freeze, yet a Netanyahu associate said “I won’t bet on a full freeze.”Following the US midterm elections, Administration officials have renewed the pressure on Israel, but for the time being Netanyahu has refused to extend the building moratorium.

The PM is arguing that recent construction permits issued in the territories would not affect a future peace deal.

Over the weekend, a senior opposition official told Ynet that despite rumors about progress during talks with the Americans, “Netanyahu did not finalize any agreement with us and did not engage in any negotiations in order to ensure the coalition’s stability.”A senior government official closely familiar with peace contacts told Ynet that “it’s not at all certain that we’ll see a breakthrough vis-à-vis the Americans – the more things progress, the more complex they become.”

Elsewhere, the Peace Now movement is saying that the pace of construction in the territories since the end of the freeze is higher than previously reported. The group said it registered construction work on 1,649 housing units, with infrastructure already built for 1,126 such units.

According to Peace Now, in the past month and a half the settlers almost closed the construction gap created by the freeze, and that most construction is being undertaken in isolated, relatively small settlements. (*)

U.S. offers Israel incentives package in exchange for 3 month settlement freeze

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pose for photographers before their meeting in New York, November 11, 2010. Getty Images / REUTERS / Brendan McDermid

 

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Security cabinet meets on Saturday night, receives update from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on proposed U.S. incentives package.

November 13, 2010 (KATAKAMI / HAARETZ) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s seven-member inner cabinet will discuss Saturday an offer by the United States to reinstate a freeze on West Bank Settlement construction in return for a package of incentives. 

Netanyahu presented Saturday the U.S. offer, which was discussed by Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday, to the forum of seven. 

According to the offer Israel would stop construction in the West Bank for 90 days. The freeze includes construction that began after the end of the first settlement moratorium on September 26. 

The moratorium would not apply to construction in East Jerusalem. The U.S. will not ask Israel to extend the new moratorium when it expires.

In return, the U.S. government would ask Congress to authorize the delivery of 20 F-35 fighter jets to Israel, a deal worth $3 billion. Moreover, if an Israeli-Palestinian agreement is achieved, the U.S. would sign a comprehensive security agreement with Israel. The U.S. and Israel are to discuss the nature of the new security arrangements in the next few weeks. 

According to “The Cable” blog, White House Middle East adviser Dan Shapiro told a group of American Jewish leaders on Friday that the incentives package includes commitments to oppose anti-Israel diplomatic efforts in the international arena. 

The U.S. incentives package would also include: curbing actions by the United Nations on the Goldstone Report; blocking anti-Israel UN resolutions concerning the Gaza flotilla raid; defeating international resolutions aimed at exposing Israel’s nuclear program at the International Atomic Energy Agency; and strengthening pressure on Iran and Syria in regards to their nuclear and proliferation activities. 

U.S.-sponsored direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority broke down on September 26 when a 10-month Israeli freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank expired. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said he would not restart negotiations with Israel while settlement construction continues. (*)

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