The Guardian 10 August, 2005

Global briefs

VENEZUELA: Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has rejected US charges that he is supporting Colombian rebels or trying to destabilise other South American countries, accusing the United States of spreading lies. President Chávez responded to statements by US State Department officials who accused Venezuela of backing Colombian guerrillas with weapons and funding. "They accuse us of buying arms to give them to the guerrillas — no, they're for our troops", he said. "They are a terrorist state, but they accuse us of being terrorists." Venezuela has signed a deal to buy 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles from Russia. "We don't fear them", President Chávez said during a ceremony at Fort Tiuna in Caracas. "We left behind our fear a long time ago. We are determined to be free."

RUSSIA: "Peace Mission 2005", the exercises between the Russia and China will run from August 18-25 involving around 10,000 troops, as well as Russian fighter planes and paratroopers and China's submarine fleet. The Chinese defence ministry said last week that the exercises are designed to "strengthen the capability of the two armed forces in jointly striking international terrorism, extremism and separatism." Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov rejected claims by the US that the war games be scaled back to ease the concerns of others in the region. He noted that Russian troops carry out similar training exercises with US, NATO and Indian forces. "Why can't we hold military exercises with China?" Moscow and Beijing have endorsed a "multipolar world" — an implicit challenge to US economic and military dominance.

INDIA: The Council of Indian Trade Unions held a four-day session of its general council on July 23-26 at Alappuzha, Kerala. The meeting emphasised the need to heighten the united struggle of the toiling people to halt the aggressive pursuit of the neoliberal economic policies by the government of India; it called upon the working class to ensure broadest mobilisation in the campaign for countrywide general strike on September 29. Around 400 members from all over the country attended the general council.

UZBEKISTAN: The United States has been given six months to close its military base in the country near the southern town of Khanabad. Known as K2, the base was opened weeks after the attacks on the US in 2001 and used in the Iraq and Afghan wars.

NIGER: The famine in Niger is the harshest in at least two decades reports Kenya's Daily Nation, which noted that when the G8 met in Scotland, Niger was given debt relief but there was not a word about the famine. This despite the UN warning that 1.2 million need food and that the number is increasing.

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