The Guardian 17 August, 2005

Global briefs

UN: Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya said last week that it would not be helpful to submit the Iranian nuclear issue to the Security Council. Wang made the remarks before the monthly luncheon between UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Security Council members. "The Council has too many things on the table. Why should we have more?", Wang said. "The Council is not the proper place for it." Wang believed the European Union and Iran can work out a solution through diplomatic efforts, stressing that the issue should be solved within the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA confirmed that the last seals on Iran’s uranium conversion facilities in the central city Isfahan were removed by the UN nuclear watchdog inspectors, marking a complete unsealing of the sensitive nuclear site.

HAITI: Police stormed a slum in the capital last week in what they claimed was an attack on armed gangs that witnesses said left at least five people dead — including a pregnant woman and a teenage boy. The witnesses said the police, some of them masked, fired indiscriminately during the operation in the Bel-Air slum. Police then stood by as men in civilian clothes attacked suspected gang members loyal to ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. One witness, 25-year-old Genel Gilo, said police fired at him and others as they hid inside a house in the massive slum, killing the teenage boy. They brought the youth to UN peacekeepers, using a door as a makeshift stretcher, but he died on the way.

SIBERIA: A vast expanse of western Siberia is undergoing an unprecedented thaw that could dramatically increase the rate of global warming, climate scientists have warned. Researchers who have recently returned from the region found that an area of permafrost spanning a million square kilometres — the size of France and Germany combined — has started to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age. The area, which covers the entire sub-Arctic region of western Siberia, is the world’s largest frozen peat bog and scientists fear that as it thaws, it will release billions of tonnes of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere.

IRAQ: The deepening crisis in Iraq is forcing the United States to transfer troops currently serving in "Operation Enduring Freedom" in Afghanistan. To fill the gap the US is moving 1250 Canadian troops under its command from their support role in Kabul directly into battle zones in Kandahar. Canada, which refused to join the "Coalition of the Willing" invasion of Iraq or the US "Star Wars" missile defence strategy, has so far lost the lives of seven soldiers in Afghanistan — four of whom were killed by US forces.

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