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Khamenei rebuffs U.S. offer of direct talks

Posted by Rattana_S On February - 7 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

(Reuters) – Iran’s highest authority, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Thursday slapped down an offer of direct talks made by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden this week, saying they would not solve the problem between them.

“Some naive people like the idea of negotiating with America, however, negotiations will not solve the problem,” Khamenei said in a speech to officials and members of Iran’s air force carried on his official website.

“If some people want American rule to be established again in Iran, the nation will rise up to face them,” he said.

“American policy in the Middle East has been destroyed and Americans now need to play a new card. That card is dragging Iran into negotiations.”

Khamenei made his comments just days after Joe Biden said the United States was prepared to meet bilaterally with the Iranian leadership. “That offer stands but it must be real and tangible,” Biden said in a speech in Munich.

With traditional fiery rhetoric, Khamenei lambasted Biden’s offer, saying that since the 1979 revolution the United States had gravely insulted Iran and continued to do so with its threat of military action.

“You take up arms against the nation of Iran and say: ‘negotiate or we fire’. But you should know that pressure and negotiations are not compatible and our nation will not be intimidated by these actions,” he added.

Relations between Iran and the United States were severed in 1979 after the overthrow of Iran’s pro-western monarchy and diplomatic meetings between officials have since been very rare.


Currently U.S.-Iran contact is limited to talks between Tehran and a so-called P5+1 group of powers on Iran’s disputed nuclear program which are to resume on February 26 in Kazakhstan.

Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor said he was skeptical the negotiations in Almaty could yield a result, telling Israel Radio that the United States needed to demonstrate to Iran that “all options were still on the table”.

Israel, widely recognized to be the only nuclear power in the Middle East, has warned it could mount a pre-emptive strike on Iranian atomic sites. Israel sees its existence as directly threatened by the prospect of an nuclear-armed Iran, given Tehran’s refusal to recognize the existence of the Jewish state.

“The final option, this is the phrasing we have used, should remain in place and be serious,” said Meridor.

“The fact that the Iranians have not yet come down from the path they are on means that talks …are liable to bring about only a stalling for time,” he said.

Iran maintains its nuclear program is entirely peaceful but Western powers are concerned it is intent on developing a weapons program.

Many believe a deal on settling the nuclear issue is impossible without a U.S.-Iranian thaw. But any rapprochement would require direct talks addressing many sources of mutual mistrust that have lingered since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution and the subsequent U.S. embassy hostage crisis in Tehran.

Moreover, although his re-election last November may give President Barack Obama a freer hand to pursue direct negotiations, analysts say Iran’s own presidential election in June may prove an additional obstacle to progress being made.

(Additional reporting by Dan Williams; Editing by William Maclean and Jon Boyle)

Hong Kong (CNN) — A bizarre three-and-a-half minute North Korean propaganda video — depicting a city resembling New York but with its skyscrapers on fire — was pulled from YouTube this week after videogame maker Activision said those scenes were lifted from its top-selling game “Call of Duty.”

Clicking on the now-defunct YouTube link brings up the message: “This video has been removed by the user. Sorry about that.” But the video can still be found elsewhere on the internet.

The anti-U.S. video also employs an instrumental version of “We Are the World,” written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, while a sleeping North Korean man apparently dreams himself aboard a North Korean space shuttle launched into orbit around the Earth.

Just after the video’s two-minute mark, a city covered by a large American flag is seen apparently being bombarded by a missile attack.

The Korean-language caption that scrolls across the screen says, “Black smoke was billowing somewhere in America. Maybe the group of Satan, who has been habitually conducting an invasion war, are burning in the fire they set themselves.”

The release of this video, the latest in a series of regular propaganda videos, comes as experts and officials widely believe North Korea is on the verge of its third nuclear test, following trials in 2006 and 2009.

The country’s use of copyrighted material is not new. In 2012, Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh and a cast of Disney characters appeared at a Pyongyang theater for newly-ascended North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The Walt Disney Company denounced the use of its characters and said in a statement, “This was not licensed or authorized by The Walt Disney Company,” according to the Associated Press.

DSI eyes big catch in police station scam

Posted by Nuttapon_S On February - 7 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Mystery man at PCC tied to political honcho

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) probe into corruption allegations over the bungled police station construction scheme will cover a key suspect said to be linked to an influential politician.

Thanin Prempree, deputy director of the Bureau of Special Crime 2 of the DSI, said the DSI now had some information to establish a link between this suspect and the influential politician but needs to dig further into the matter.

Mr Thanin was asked if the real owner of the building registered as the address of the head office of PCC Development and Construction Co, the sole contractor of the project, is an influential figure in Chiang Mai.

He said he had reason to believe this is the case.

Mr Thanin said he could not reveal the name of the building’s owner until the DSI obtains solid evidence to implicate him, but said the person is a very influential figure.

The building is No.292/1 on the Chiang Mai-Lampang Road in tambon Pa Tan in Chiang Mai’s Muang district.

Piboon Udomsithikul is registered as president of PCC and his relative, Wisanu Wisetsing, is an executive of the company, Mr Thanin said. He strongly believes there is an influential figure behind them who is actually pulling the strings but is not listed as a shareholder of the company.

The DSI is investigating irregularities in the drafting of the terms of reference (ToR) for the bidding in 2011 for the construction contract to build 396 police station offices and 163 police apartment blocks nationwide.

In the initial ToR, Provincial Police Regions 1 to 9 were allowed to conduct their own bids to find contractors for their areas, Mr Thanin said.

The DSI suspects senior Democrat Party figure Suthep Thaugsuban, who was deputy prime minister at the time, intervened to change the ToR so the entire project would go to a single contractor.

PCC won the bidding with an offer that was 540 million baht less than the median price of 6.2 billion baht.

The company was acting as a broker and later subcontracted the work to someone else, Mr Thanin said. The work has since been left incomplete and abandoned.

The first and second installments of the construction work, worth 877 million baht and 600 million baht respectively, had already been paid to PCC, said Mr Thanin.

“But we’ve found in our investigation that the subcontractors never received the money,” he said.

At least 10 subcontracted firms provided the DSI with information about the project and they are all being treated as witnesses, he said.

Mr Thanin said he would recommend the Royal Thai Police scrap the contract awarded to PCC on the grounds that the company violated bidding conditions, which prohibited it from subcontracting the work. The police should not waituntil the contract expires on March 14 as PCC could then offer to pay a fine in exchange for renewing the contract.

The contract has already been extended three times despite the lack of progress in construction, said Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit. He said the police should sue PCC for compensation.

A number of potential bidders had lodged a complaint with former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva against the bidding process change, said DSI chief Tarit Pengdith, but the appeal was ignored. He said he had obtained a copy of the petition.

The DSI will summon both Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep for questioning.

The DSI has summoned three former national police chiefs – Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwon, Pol Gen Prateep Tanprasert and Pol Gen Wichean Potephosree – for questioning on Feb 11, 13 and 15 respectively.

Pol Gen Patcharawat said Wednesday he retired before the project was endorsed. Pol Gen Wichean said the project was approved before he became the national police chief.

Pol Gen Prateep, who was national police chief at the time the project was approved, did not comment.

Democrat spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut defended Mr Suthep.

He said the Royal Thai Police changed the bid process.

He dismissed allegations of price collusion in the bidding, saying Sam Prasit Co made the second lowest offer at 293 million baht below the median price, a very different offer compared to that of PCC.

This could never be considered an act of price collusion, he said.

Thai team in UK to prepare temple dispute defence

Posted by Nuttapon_S On February - 7 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS
Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana left for London today to meet with legal consultants for preparations for the country’s oral statement before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in April in the Thai defence of the เอ temple dispute between Thailand and Cambodia.
He ruled out negotiation with Cambodian to settle the case, saying a final ruling rests with the ICJ while both conflicting parties will have to do their best.
Thailand and Cambodia are required to present their oral statements to the court in April in defence of ownership of a 4.6 km tract of land surrounding Preah Vihear temple. An ICJ verdict is scheduled for October.
Mr Phongthep said Thailand has already submitted written documents to the court while further explanations of each point in the documents will be made during the oral presentation.
The deputy prime minister was accompanied by the Foreign Ministry’s legal team and representatives of the Office of the Attorney General and the Council of State.