International snippets

Iran’s foreign minister to leave nuclear talks ‘for consultations’

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohommad Javad Zarif will leave the nuclear talks with six world powers on Friday and return to Tehran, Reuters reported. Zarif will return to Tehran tonight “for consultations and exchange of views with top officials,” IRNA news agency reported, citing a member of the Iranian delegation at the Vienna talks. Western diplomats said Zarif was expected to return to Austria during the weekend.

At least 11 people dead in Zimbabwe church stampede

At least 11 people died and several others were injured during a stampede at the end of a church service in the Zimbabwean mining town of Kwekwe, AFP reported. Four people died during a crush at a stadium in Kwekwe, and the other seven died on arrival at a hospital in the town, police provincial spokesman Shadreck Mubaiwa said Friday.

Israel rejects EU appeal not to raze Palestinian militants’ homes

Israel has rejected an appeal by the five biggest members of the EU not to raze the homes of Palestinians who carried out attacks in Jerusalem, Reuters said. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon confirmed that Thursday’s meeting with the German, French, British, Italian and Spanish ambassadors took place. They were told that the measure was consistent with Israeli law and would be pursued to deter further violence. “This is not meant to be punitive, but rather to dissuade others from carrying out terrorist attacks,”Nahshon said.

Lavrov: Balance of interests needed in nuclear talks with Iran

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday that a balance of interests should be reached at nuclear talks between six world powers and Iran. Diplomats should correctly put together all existing components for reaching agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program and display a political will, TASS quoted Lavrov as saying. He added that for Russia, “the quality of the agreement” is more important than date by which it could be reached.

S. Korea starts live-fire maneuvers near disputed Yellow Sea border with North

South Korea staged a live-fire military drill on Friday near its disputed Yellow Sea border with North Korea, despite warnings from Pyongyang, AFP said. The maneuvers were held on two front-line islands. One of them was shelled by North Korea on November 23, 2010, killing four people. The live-fire exercise wrapped up a two-week annual military drill. It involved more than 300,000 troops across South Korea and was denounced by the North as a provocation.

Hong Kong buyer pays $32.6mn for Sotheby’s 10-carat blue diamond

A buyer from Hong Kong has paid $32.6 million for a near 10-carat blue diamond at an auction held by Sotheby’s in New York, Reuters reported. The unnamed collector saw off six other bidders to set a new record price-per-carat for any diamond, according to Sotheby’s. The price was around double pre-auction estimates. China has recently become the second largest market behind the US in the global $79 billion sector.

Abe dissolves Japan lower house ahead of snap election

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dissolved the lower house of parliament on Friday, forcing a snap election expected to be held on December 14. Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, in power for most of the post-World War II era, may lose some seats. However, it is likely to retain a solid majority with its coalition partner in the 480-seat chamber. The PM said this week that he wanted to ask for voters’ endorsement for his decision to postpone a sales tax rise after an earlier hike had knocked the economy off its axis, AP reported.

​Five Ukrainian parties agree to Parliament coalition

Five Ukrainian parties have signed a draft agreement on a coalition in the country’s parliament, RIA Novosti reports. The parties in the coalition include the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, the People’s Front party, Samopomich (Self-Help) party, Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party and the Radical Party.

‘Lithuania President’s remarks worse than Ukrainian radical nationalists’ – Russia

The provocative statements made by Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė directed at Russia over the Ukrainian crisis complicate the conflict’s settlement, said Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Aleksandr Lukashevich. “In her remarks Grybauskaite surpasses even the most extremist statements made by radical nationalists in Kiev,” he added. “Sensible politics of most countries that are not trying to please marginals, and are really concerned about the situation in Ukraine and the state of affairs in Europe and the world, are guided by a different, responsible approach.” According to the ministry’s website, Grybauskaite called Russia a“terrorist state” in an interview to a local radio station. She also urged support for the Kiev government, including providing military aid.

Israel to cooperate with UN Gaza inquiry

Israel will cooperate with a UN investigation into Israeli attacks on UN facilities during last summer’s Gaza war and the use of UN sites by Palestinian militants to store weapons, Reuters said. Last week, Israel announced it would not cooperate with a separate UN Human Rights Council investigation into alleged war crimes committed during the July-August conflict. Israel then said its findings were predetermined and accused its chairman, Canadian academic William Schabas, of anti-Israeli bias.

‘No signs’ of bird flu outside quarantine farm in Germany

German authorities said Thursday that no signs of bird flu have been found anywhere else in the region around the farm in eastern Germany where it was discovered on November 4. However, the source of the infection there is still unknown, Reuters reported. The highly contagious H5N8 strain of bird flu was also confirmed Monday on an English duck farm, the same form of the virus already discovered in Germany and the Netherlands.

30 states pledge $9.3bn for Green Climate Fund

Thirty nations meeting in Berlin on Thursday pledged $9.3 billion for a fund to help developing countries cut emissions, AFP quoted German Environment Minister Gerd Mueller as saying. The South Korea-based Green Climate Fund aims to help nations invest in clean energy and green technology. Its other goals are to build up defenses against rising seas and worsening storms, floods and droughts. Media agencies

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