Tagged: Middle East

Lagarde woos Saudis, says debt top IMF target for her | Reuters

French Finance Minister and IMF candidate Christine Lagarde said on Saturday tackling sovereign debt troubles would be a priority of the International Monetary Fund if she led the Washington-based rescue lender.  Lagarde, competing with Mexican central bank chief Agustin Carstens, was in Saudi Arabia as part of a world tour where she needs to drum up support among emerging market economies for her IMF candidacy.

South Africa’s Trevor Manuel ruled himself out of the race for the IMF’s top job on Friday, making Lagarde an even firmer favourite, although she remains under threat of a judicial inquiry in her home country. Lagarde is backed by the European Union and a handful of smaller countries from Georgia to Mauritius. Paris is hopeful that Washington and Beijing will also stand behind her.

Brazil, Latin America’s biggest economy is leaning towards supporting Lagarde but has not yet made up its mind, officials said on Friday. Lagarde said that the IMF should also support countries affected by the pro-democracy protest movement sweeping North Africa and the Middle East.

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Veracity of al-Jazeera Leaked Documents Questioned by Palestinians

Top Palestinian officials are doubtful of the veracity of leaked documents that show offers of major concessions to Israel. The documents, obtained by al-Jazeera, suggest the Palestinians offered Israel keeping major parts of illegally occupied East Jerusalem said to be rejected by Israel. Palestinians’ chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said the leaks were lies. The BBC said it was unable to verify the documents.

Al-Jazeera says it has 16,076 confidential records of meetings, e-mails,Illegal settlements communications between Palestinian, Israeli and US leaders, covering the years 2000-2010. It was leaked that the Palestinians proposed to handover Islamic holy sites to an international committee and limiting returning refugees to 100,000 over ten years. Mr Erekat questioned the authenticity of the leaked documents speaking with al-Jazeera. He questioned why Israel did not sign the accord if the concessions for actually offered. PA president Mahmoud Abbas, who is to attend talks with Egypt President Mubarak on the peace process on January 24, also expressed same doubts

Hamas spokesperson said the leaks revealed the ugly face of the PA and its cooperation with the occupation. It said Fatah was involved in attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause on the issues of refugees and East Jerusalem. They show "the level of the Fatah Authority’s [sic] involvement in attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause, particularly on the issue of Jerusalem and refugees, and its involvement against the resistance in the West Bank and Gaza Strip", Sami Abu Zuhri said, quoted by AFP news agency. Israel occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem on both of the rivals have claims. Israel built settlements for 500,000 settlements that are still continuing.

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Jordan blocks public sector workers from 50 websites

BBC News | 05/08/2010 | 14:24 GMT

Jordan has barred public sector workers from accessing more than 50 websites at work, after it was found they were wasting almost 3 hours a day online. The 30-day study found that public servants visited 70 million websites at work, of which only 130,000 were relevant to their jobs. The country’s Information Minister, Marwan Juma, told BBC News that the policy would “improve services”. “We knew there was waste, but not to this extent,” he said. “These policies are not unique; when I worked in the private sector, all the companies I worked for had policies. “It’s part of our attempts to improve services and get staff to use the internet as a tool to help them with their work.” Mr Juma stressed that the blocked access would only be in place during office hours. “This is a continuous process and we are revamping our monitoring and filtering tools with a view, perhaps, of time limited access to certain sites, rather than an outright block,” he added.

Immediate action

The government said that action needed to be taken, pointing out that there were more than a quarter of a million attempts to access the blocked sites in the first day after the ban came into effect. “This measure must not be misinterpreted,” said the Jordanian Communications Minister, Ali Ayed. “The government is not targeting any particular website,” adding that even the governments own news agency, Petra, has been blocked. The Jordanian ministry said that employees were wasting, on average, two and a half working hours every day on the internet. “The public sector’s time must be spent in service of the public interest and public servants must focus their attention on the public’s needs, instead of wasting their time surfing the web or playing games,” said Mr Ayed.

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Israel rejects Middle East nuclear talks plan

BBC News | Saturday, 29 May 2010 | 17:28 GMT

Israel says it will not take part in a conference aimed at achieving a nuclear-arms free Middle East, proposed at a UN meeting in New York. Nearly 200 nations, signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), backed plans for the meeting in 2012. In a document agreed at the talks, Israel was singled out for criticism. Israel, which has not signed the NPT, dismissed the document as "deeply flawed" and "hypocritical". "It ignores the realities of the Middle East and the real threats facing the region and the entire world," the Israeli government said in a statement quoted by the AFP news agency. "Given the distorted nature of this resolution, Israel will not be able to take part in its implementation."

The statement was issued in Canada, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is visiting. In the past, the Israeli government has refused to comment on rumours that Israel has a stockpile of nuclear weapons. In April, Mr Netanyahu pulled out of a US summit on nuclear arms after learning that Egypt and Turkey intended to raise the issue.

‘Insignificant’ document

Some 189 nations agreed to the 28-page document following a month-long conference on strengthening the NPT, the cornerstone of global disarmament efforts. The document urged Israel to sign the NPT, but did not 

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Israel awaits word but signs are no deal with U.S.

Reuters | Thu Mar 25, 2010 | 4:25pm IST

Netanyahu meets Sen Mjrty & Mnrty Leaders Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ended a troubled US visit on Thursday with no apparent resolution of a serious dispute with Washington over Jewish housing in occupied East Jerusalem. Despite his hints at potential compromise, Israeli commentators saw failure to secure a deal with US President Barack Obama and said tensions with Washington appeared to have been left unresolved. Israeli President Shimon Peres, the country’s elder statesman, said Netanyahu "apparently … did not reach an understanding with the United States of America".

Newspaper headlines in Israel’s two largest dailies, Yedioth Ahronoth and Maariv, said Netanyahu’s "back was to the wall" and Israel was in a rare confrontation with America. "A worsening of the crisis with the US", said a headline in the Haaretz daily. Palestinians want a complete settlement freeze in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank. Citing biblical and historical links, Israel regards all of Jerusalem as its capital, a claim that has not won international recognition.

CABINET TO MEET

"The president asked the prime minister to take steps to build confidence for proximity talks so that progress can be made toward comprehensive peace," Obama’s spokesman Robert Gibbs said, referring to indirect negotiations with the Palestinians. Gibbs confirmed there were "areas   

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