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Syrian opposition to meet government for talks in early January

Posted December 11, 2015 12:36:50

A joint team of Syria’s political and armed opposition will meet the government subsequent month for talks in search of a political answer to nearly five years of conflict, the chairman of a Saudi-hosted opposition conference says.

A lot more than one hundred members of Syria’s opposition parties and rebel fighting groups agreed at the finish of two days of talks in Riyadh to perform collectively to prepare for peace talks with president Bashar al-Assad’s government.

But the final hours of the meeting, which excluded Islamic State and Al Nusra Front fighters as nicely as the primary Kurdish force controlling big components of northern Syria, had been overshadowed by protest from the strong insurgent group Ahrar al-Sham.

In a statement, it said it had withdrawn from the Riyadh meeting, objecting to what it said was a prominent function provided to the mostly Damascus-based political opposition group, the National Coordination Body for Democratic Alter, which it said was closer to Mr Assad than to the opposition.

It also mentioned rebel fighters had been below-represented at the talks and their voices largely ignored.

Nevertheless a copy of the final statement had reportedly been signed by the Ahrar al-Sham delegate.

Nevertheless, its withdrawal — even so brief — highlighted enduring rifts among Mr Assad’s enemies which have bedevilled Western and Gulf Arab efforts to rally enough political and military pressure on the president to force him to step down.

Abdulaziz al-Sager, a Saudi academic who chaired the Riyadh talks, stated the opposition would meet government officials in the 1st 10 days of January, the very first such talks in two years aimed at ending a bloody civil war which has drawn in forces from the United States, Russia, Europe and the Arab world.

“There will be a meeting decided by [United Nations envoy Staffan] de Mistura in January,” he mentioned.

“A meeting between the opposition and the Syrian regime to go to a transitional period. This will take place in the 1st ten days of January.”

A statement at the finish of the two-day conference said Mr Assad must leave power at the start off of a transitional period, and named for an all-inclusive, democratic civic state.

It also committed to preserving state institutions.

The opposition was willing to enter talks with Syrian government representatives and to accept a UN-supervised ceasefire, the statement stated.

‘Difficult operate ahead’: Kerry

The meeting came amid escalating conflict in Syria, pitting the army and allied militias like Lebanese Hezbollah fighters backed by Iran and Russia against competing rebel and jihadi fighters, who incorporate Arabs and Kurds.

The Riyadh meeting called on the United Nations to stress the Syrian government to make a series of confidence-developing moves just before peace talks commence, including suspending death sentences against opponents, releasing prisoners and lifting sieges.

Vienna Syria talks Photo: Russia, the United States, European and Middle Eastern nations agreed on a two-year timeline major to Syrian national elections during talks in Vienna (AFP: Brendan Smialowski, file photo)

Monzer Akbik, a member of the National Coalition opposition group, stated the conference agreed to set up a 32-member secretariat to oversee and supervise peace talks.

The statement mentioned that physique would select the negotiating group.

Participants also committed to a political program which “represents all sectors of the Syrian folks”, and would not discriminate on religious or sectarian grounds – in a gesture towards minority Alawite, Christian and Kurdish populations.

US Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed the declaration.

“Although this crucial step forward brings us closer to starting negotiations amongst the Syrian parties, we recognise the difficult work ahead,” he said.

International efforts to resolve the conflict have been lent added urgency by a wave of deadly attacks across the world claimed by the Iraq- and Syria-based Islamic State and by a huge flow of refugees into Europe.

Major powers agreed in Vienna last month to revive diplomatic efforts to finish the war, calling for peace talks to start by January and elections within two years.

No spot for Assad in transition

The demands that Mr Assad and his lieutenants need to play no component in a political transition marked a tougher stance than that of many Western countries which back his opponents.

The United States, France and Britain all referred to as for Mr Assad to step down soon after protests broke out against his rule in March 2011.

Even though they all say Mr Assad eventually need to go, they have been less particular about the timing of any departures, indicating that they could accept his staying on in an interim period.

Mr Assad’s fate was one of numerous concerns left unresolved at the Vienna meeting final month which was attended by Russia, the United States, European and Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, which back opposing sides in Syria.

Saudi Arabia is a major backer of the rebels along with Turkey and Western nations. Iran and Russia support Mr Assad.

Iran has openly criticised the choice by Saudi Arabia to hold the talks, saying they have been designed to harm the Vienna procedure.

On Thursday, Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian mentioned some groups linked to the Islamic State militant group have been involved in the Riyadh meeting.

Russia launched air strikes in Syria ten weeks ago, assisting the Syrian army — backed by Iranian troops, Hezbollah fighters and allied militia — to contain rebel advances.

Russia says it is bombing Islamic State militants, who manage large locations of eastern Syria and western Iraq, but Western and Arab states which have been carrying out air strikes against Islamic State for more than a year say the Russian jets have mostly hit other rebel forces in the west of Syria.

Moscow’s intervention has not swung the war decisively Assad’s way and a number of Western-backed rebel groups, some of whom were represented in Riyadh, have been emboldened by the improved flow of foreign-supplied anti-tank missiles which have helped stem parts of the army’s counter-offensive.

Reuters

Topics: unrest-conflict-and-war, syrian-arab-republic, saudi-arabia

Agen Sabung Ayam

DFAT warns early release of Matthew Ng could threaten China prisoner swap deal

Updated December 08, 2015 23:52:45

The Department of Foreign Affairs has warned the future of Australia’s prisoner swap deal with China could be jeopardised if the Lawyer-General, George Brandis, grants businessman Matthew Ng an early release from prison.

Mr Ng was arrested in Guangzhou in 2010 right after refusing to sell his $ one hundred million stake in the travel company, GZL, back to the Chinese government at expense price tag.

He was convicted of bribery and embezzlement a year later and sentenced to 11.five years’ jail.

In 2014, he became the initial Australian to advantage from a prisoner swap deal among Australia and China and is now serving out the rest of his sentence at the St Heliers Correction Centre in the NSW Hunter Valley.

Mr Ng has usually maintained his innocence, and since returning to Australia has pleaded for an early release from prison or a pardon.

In August, Mr Ng’s lawyers made a formal application for an early release, based on exceptional circumstances under the Crime Act such as his diagnosis with Post Traumatic Anxiety Disorder and a significant depressive disorder, the amount of time he has currently served in China and the disproportionate length of his sentence.

But yesterday the Attorney-General’s division wrote to Mr Ng’s lawyers rejecting the application, citing suggestions from both the NSW Wellness Department and Division of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

“DFAT advises that the Chinese authorities have produced clear they are closely monitoring the first successful transfer cases and will see them as test instances for future prisoner transfer amongst Australia and China,” the Lawyer-General’s department wrote.

“DFAT’s view is the granting of early release or pardon would very likely have a unfavorable impact on the operation of the [prisoner transfer] scheme and prejudice other existing or future circumstances.”

It is understood there are about 80 Australians imprisoned in China.

Ng suffered inhumane therapy in Chinese prison: lawyers

The Lawyer-General’s department also cast doubt on the severity of Mr Ng’s mental illness, saying he had not sought any assist for psychological situations at St Heliers and “appeared to be managing his mental wellness situations adequately”.

“Psychology advises … they are unlikely to help a request for early release primarily based on psychological well being grounds due to the commonality of described diagnoses and symptoms in the correctional setting,” the department wrote.

That is at odds with healthcare guidance obtained by Mr Ng’s lawyers which states the “specialist psychological therapy of the sort needed by Mr Ng is not obtainable in a correctional facility” and goes on to say Mr Ng demands therapy “as a matter of urgency”.

Mr Ng’s sentence expires in 2022, but he will be eligible for parole in August subsequent year.

His lawyers argue there are enough exceptional situations to release Mr Ng from prison early offered his inhumane remedy, and trauma suffered, during his 1,475 days in prison in China.

In their letter to the Attorney-Common, they said Mr Ng was held in a prison cell with 18 other folks and forced to share a bed with another inmate there were no flushing toilets or showers and he was physically assaulted on 3 occasions.

Mr Ng’s second marriage has also broken down lately and last year, whilst imprisoned in China, he was informed that his eldest daughter Isabella had died, causing him a wonderful deal of distress.

His lawyers have till January five to respond to the department’s letter.

Topics: crime, prisons-and-punishment, planet-politics, federal-government, australia, china

First posted December 08, 2015 23:48:04

Agen Sabung Ayam

Early days but late nights for climate change negotiators in Paris

Posted December 04, 2015 10:53:48

It is nevertheless early days in the two-week extended negotiations for a new international agreement to limit climate alter, but negotiators are currently operating into the early hours of the morning.

Key points:

  • Friday deadline to lock in globe-wide deal to limit global warming
  • Final agreement expected to limit boost of two degrees Celcius
  • Push to bridge gap among building and created countries

The United Nations conference in Paris started on Monday with the aim of locking in a world-wide deal to limit global warming beyond 2020, with a deadline of next Friday.

But some negotiating sessions have currently run by means of the night, not wrapping up until early hours of the morning, just before resuming again only a couple of hours later.

A variety of teams are operating on different aspects of the agreement and some regions are proving challenging to get consensus on, major to the late night sessions.

The final agreement is anticipated to settle on limiting worldwide warming to an boost of 2 degrees Celcius.

But there is a big gulf in between created and developing nations on where the onus to reduce emissions lies and how considerably financial help advanced economies ought to provide.

Let’s all function to get building nations into the extremely greatest position they can to access the financing that is there to do things that are important for development.

Head of the United Nation’s Development Program Helen Clark

Head of the United Nation’s Development System Helen Clark urged creating countries to take benefit of new technologies to enable financial advancement whilst still limiting carbon emissions.

“Let’s all work to get developing countries into the extremely ideal position they can to access the financing that’s there to do issues that are important for improvement,” Ms Clark said.

She referred to as for sophisticated economies to provide poorer countries grants, rather than loans, to aid them cope with climate alter.

“We do really feel that standard climate justice needs assistance for adaptation for those who have been harmed by events they didn’t result in,” Ms Clark said.

“There is a fundamental injustice in nations getting set back time and time once again, and getting to incur higher debts and exposure to monetary liability.”

As opposed to the unsuccessful 2009 negotiations in Copenhagen, these talks are not focused on setting targets for nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

As an alternative, every single nation has proposed its personal level of cuts and approaches for doing so.

The negotiations are centred about the general level of emissions cuts, funding, and a technique for monitoring and reviewing each and every country’s progress.

The deal will be a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which placed most of the responsibility for minimizing emissions on the developed globe and expires in 2020.

Topics: government-and-politics, climate-adjust, environment, environmental-policy, france

Agen Sabung Ayam