The Pentagon on Friday welcomed Saudi Arabia's pledge to commit ground forces to fight Islamic State jihadists in Syria, should the US-led coalition ever send in combat troops. Saudi Arabia has been part of the coalition since late 2014. "We welcome the announcement by Saudi Arabia that they6 days agoAFP
The planned “North Thunder” military exercise is a clear message to Iran and the countries in the region it supports that any hostile intentions and actions will be firmly dealt with, an expert has said. The military drill is scheduled to be held in the northern region of Saudi Arabia in the next few days and a number of countries will be participating in it, local media reported on Tuesday. Military experts have warned that the next probable threat to the Gulf states is likely to come from the northern areas, after Iran demographically occupies Iraq and uses that country as its military arm to meddle in the affairs of neighboring countries and drain Gulf states’ resources.
A stunning four of the world’s top five and six of the top 10 will compete in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships WTA event next week after defending champion and world number three Simona Halep, 2015 Dubai finalist Karolina Pliskova and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova accepted wild cards into the tournament. “We are thrilled that once again so many of the very best players in the world have chosen to compete at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of Dubai Duty Free. Halep had announced that she would have to miss the event in order to undergo surgery, but the temptation to defend her trophy at one of her favourite stops on the WTA Tour proved too much to resist.
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By Katie Paul RIYADH, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's three telecom operators are in talks to create a company to own and manage their mobile transmitter towers in a move that could cut costs and lower tariffs in the kingdom, a Saudi financial news website reported on Wednesday. Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) in November said it was considering selling its towers, most likely to a tower company which would lease these back to the seller.
The cooperation between India and the UAE in the energy sector is expected to grow following the three-day visit of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to India on Wednesday. The visit comes six months after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to the UAE to strengthen bilateral ties and increase investments between the two countries.
The siege of Aleppo has taken the West even further from achieving its key goals in Syria of stemming the refugee flow, removing the Assad regime and tackling the Islamic State group, experts say. As the joint forces of Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Syria encircle the divided northern Syrian city, the so-called "moderate" opposition faces a potentially devastating turning point in its five-year war against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. "The civil war is feeding a horrific humanitarian crisis with obvious significance for the twin Western concerns of refugees and extremism," said Julien Barnes-Dacey of the European Council on Foreign Relations.
Jerusalem, Feb 10 (IANS) Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday he has plans to encircle Israel with fences because the Mideast is filled with "wild beasts" that imperil the Jewish country. "We are preparing a multi-year plan to surround the entire State of Israel with security fences to protect ourselves in the current Middle East," Netanyahu said during a tour to the construction site of a new fence along its eastern border with Jordan, Xinhua reported. "In the place where we live, we must defend ourselves against the wild beasts," Netanyahu said, apparently referring to Islamist militants.
New Delhi, Feb 10 (IANS) The construction of India's strategic petroleum storage in Karnataka's Mangaluru with the assistance of the UAE's Abu Dhabi National Oil Company is proceeding on schedule and will be completed soon, the government said on Wednesday. According to an Indian petroleum ministry release here, this was mentioned by Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan in his meeting here with United Arab Emirates Energy Minister Suhail Mohammed Al Mazrouei, ahead of the India visit of Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Western superiority in military technology is "eroding", notably at the hands of China and Russia, a leading think-tank said Tuesday in its annual report on the state of militaries around the world. The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London said in its Military Balance report that increasingly easy access to technology by non-state groups means the world faces "an increasingly complex balance of military power". It also highlighted that Russia and China are pushing to modernise their militaries and are "increasingly active in the development and deployment of advanced military capabilities".
OPEC pointed to a larger oil supply surplus on the world market this year than previously thought as Saudi Arabia and other members pump more oil, making up for losses in non-member producers hurt by the collapse in prices. OPEC's extra barrels come as the group expects the pace of oil demand growth to slow down in 2016, and more than offset a forecast of a slightly larger than expected supply contraction from non-OPEC producers.
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Said Ramadan has lost count of how much he's borrowed just to stay afloat while other vendors at Giza's pyramids have already lost hope, as jihadist attacks bring Egypt's tourist industry to its knees. Since Egypt's then army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted Islamist leader Mohamed Morsi in 2013, a deadly insurgency led by the Islamic State jihadist group has kept away millions of tourists. Tourism in Egypt was dealt a body blow when a Russian airliner blew up mid-air over the Sinai Peninsula on October 31, killing all 224 people on board, mostly Russian tourists.
Qatar's World Cup organisers said on Wednesday that six labourers building stadiums for the 2022 tournament suffered work-related injuries last year but there were no fatalities. Qatar has been widely condemned for its treatment of almost two million foreign workers. Critics have estimated that several thousand workers could die in the run-up to the World Cup because of labour conditions in Qatar on direct or indirect tournament projects.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday launched a bitter attack on NATO ally the United States over its support of Syrian Kurdish groups, saying it was creating a "pool of blood" in the region. In an impassioned and sometimes angry address, Erdogan asked whether the United States was an ally or was working with groups Ankara lists as terror organisations. Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its People's Protection Units (YPG) militia to be terror groups allied to Kurdish rebels inside Turkey, a position not shared by Washington.
Qatar signed a long-term deal with Pakistan on Wednesday to export liquefied natural gas, according to state media in the Gulf. The deal will see Qatar export up to 3.75 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas a year, according to Pakistan's petroleum minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. The Qatar News Agency (QNA) confirmed the deal had been signed in a statement posted on its website.
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New Delhi, Feb 10 (IANS) Bharatiya Janata Party's Delhi unit president Satish Upadhyay on Wednesday demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, following a video clip that showed his minister's involvement in a bribe demand. "Kejriwal should resign on moral grounds. Seven MLAs of AAP have gone to the jail and approximately 32 (AAP) people have criminal cases against them, what kind of government is this," Upadhyay said, talking to IANS.
New Delhi, Feb 9 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address an All India Conference of School Principals here on February 12 organised by Vidya Bharti, an organisation affiliated to the RSS. Addressing the media here, Vidya Bharti's national secretary Shiv Kumar said the main purpose of the conference, being held from February 11 to 14, is to discuss the role of school principals so as to "develop a society wherein children grow up to be ideal citizens on the basis of their grooming in schools". Vidya Bharti's general secretary Lalit Bihari Goswami said the mission of the organisation was to develop a national education system in which the students grow up into patriotic and well-rounded personalities.
Baghdad, Feb 10 (IANS) The Iraqi security forces fought fierce clashes with Islamic State militants and retook control of the eastern part of the city of Ramadi, while the troops seized a road linking the city to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, the military said on Tuesday. The troops and allied paramilitary Sunni tribal fighters recaptured several areas in eastern Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's western province of Anbar, including the districts of Sajjariyah and Juwaiba, and rushed into Huseiba al-Sharqiya area, the military said in a statement, Xinhua reported. "Our forces are advancing firmly to chase the enemy, and have opened the highway between Ramadi and Baghdad which passes through the town of Khaldiyah, the statement said, referring to the road that also links Ramadi with the military airbase of Habbaniyah where US troops and allied coalition military personnel stationed.
Mumbai, Feb 10 (IANS) Bollywood celebrities including Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan are praying for the recovery of Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad, the soldier who was rescued from under an avalanche on the Siachen glacier, in what many have called a 'miracle'.
The Kingdom’s decision to sever ties with Iran following attacks on its diplomatic missions in Tehran and other cities is a sovereign act aimed at preserving its security and stability, Vice-Prime Minister of Mauritius Showkutally Soodhun has said. Talking to Okaz/Saudi Gazette during his recent visit to the Kingdom, Soodhun said Saudi Arabia’s decisive action was aimed at stopping Iran’s intervention in the internal affairs of other countries and putting an end to its aggressive policies. “Iran is known for its intervention in the affairs of the Arab and Islamic countries.
The Palestinian government said on Tuesday it was ready to step down to enable a new national unity government, as rivals Fatah and Hamas engaged in a new reconciliation effort. Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah was "ready to resign to support the formation of a national unity government and to take every effort to achieve genuine reconciliation", a statement read. The government is the remnant of the cabinet of independent technocrats that the West Bank-based Fatah and Gaza rulers Hamas agreed on in 2014 when they announced their reconciliation.
* Sees larger drop in 2016 non-OPEC supply of 700,000 bpd * OPEC output rises in January, increasing supply glut * Says low oil prices hurting world economy (Adds details from report, quotes) By Alex Lawler LONDON, Feb 10 (Reuters) - OPEC pointed to a larger oil supply surplus on the world market this year than previously thought as Saudi Arabia and other members pump more oil, helping to make up for losses in non-member producers hurt by the collapse in prices. OPEC's 2014 strategy shift to defend market share and not prices helped deepen the decline. OPEC also cut its forecast for world economic growth in 2016 to 3.2 percent from 3.4 percent and said low oil prices were hurting the economy, in contrast to previous price slides that were supportive of global growth.
No reports of attempted or actual kidnapping of students from Dubai schools were ever reported to any of Dubai Police’s stations, an official said on Tuesday. Lt Col Adel Al Joker, head of investigation at Dubai Police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID), told Gulf News that concerns expressed in an advisory letter issued by a school at the end of January claiming that a stranger approached two students are unfounded. “We found out that in such cases of schools issuing advisory letters, some parents are worried about their children who sometimes wait outside the school gates for their parents without any safety measures such as cameras outside the school gates,” Lt. Col Al Joker explained.
Pune, Feb 9 (IANS) The following is the scoreboard of the first T20 International between India and Sri Lanka which was played at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium here on Tuesday.
Syrian Kurdish separatists on Wednesday opened a representation in Moscow amid a push by the Kremlin to have them included in Syria peace talks despite Turkey's objections. "This is a historical moment for the Kurdish people," Merab Shamoyev, chairman of the International Union of Kurdish Public Associations, said at the ceremony in an industrial neighbourhood in southeast Moscow. "Russia is a great power and an important actor in the Middle East.
South Korea announced on Wednesday it would completely shut down all operations at a jointly run industrial park in North Korea to punish Pyongyang for its latest rocket launch and nuclear test. WHAT IS KAESONG? Kaesong is formally labelled as a special administrative industrial region of North Korea.
Kurdish forces backed by Arab rebel groups on Wednesday seized most of a key military airport and the adjacent town in northern Syria from rival anti-government factions, a monitoring group said. The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and its Arab allies expelled Islamist and other rebel fighters from the town of Minnigh and overran "more than half" of the nearby air base, north of Syria's second city Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Clashes were ongoing inside the airport, where Islamist rebels were trying to maintain a grip on the last military air base they hold in Aleppo province, Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.
Syrian farmer Mahmud Turki was sitting on his couch at sunset watching the news with his family after eating supper. Then an air strike hit his home and turned his life upside down. "The moment of the air strike... nobody can describe it," Turki -- stitches still in his head and his body covered in bruises -- said from his hospital bed in neighbouring Turkey, where he was among just a few allowed across for treatment.
New Delhi, Feb 10 (IANS) In the midst of political controversies between India and Pakistan, six Indian directors including Aparna Sen, Tanuja Chandra and Ketan Mehta and six Pakistani directors of the likes of Mehreen Jabbar, Sabiha Sumar and Meenu Farjad are coming together on a common platform for an apolitical exchange to mark the onset of the 70th year of the country's Partition. After the launch of Zindagi channel which brought Pakistan's TV content closer to Indians in 2014, Zeal For Unity (ZFU) is the second initiative by Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. (ZEEL) to use the strength of creative thought leadership from both the countries to bridge the divide between the two.
New Delhi, Feb 10 (IANS) President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday greeted the Iranian government and its people on the 37th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in their country. "On behalf of the government and the people of India and on my own behalf, it is with great pleasure that I convey warm greetings and best wishes to Your Excellency and to the government and people of Iran on the 37th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran," the president said. The president extended his greetings in a message to his Iranian counterpart Dr Hassan Rouhani.
New Delhi, Feb 9 (IANS) National Institute for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog member Bibek Debroy on Tuesday called for coordinated efforts of the central and state governments to achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs). "States and centre have to work together for achievement of sustainable development goals which are extremely important for ensuring inclusive economic growth through social equality of which health is a crucial factor," he said at the National Consultation on Road to Sustainable Development Goals here. "If we refer back to human development indices (HDI) for India as reflected in the human development reports, we will find that these were improved due to increase in per capita income and not because of education or health," he said.
New Delhi, Feb 10 (IANS) The BJP on Wednesday sought Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's resignation after the Delhi High Court set aside a trial court order to the CBI to release documents seized during a raid at the state secretariat. In an order on Wednesday, Justice P.S. Teji said the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will retain the documents seized by it during a raid at the office of Rajendra Kumar, principal secretary to Kejriwal, on December 15, last year. "The Bharatiya Janata Party welcomes the high court decision.
New Delhi, Feb 10 (IANS) External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday called on Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, soon after he arrived here on a three-day visit. EAM @SushamSwaraj calls on Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed Al Nahyan," external affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup tweeted with pictures of the two leaders. Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke protocol as he received the crown prince on his arrival here.
Iranians waved "Death to America" banners and took selfies with a ballistic missile Thursday as they marked 37 years since the Islamic revolution, weeks after Iran finalised a nuclear deal with world powers. In the capital, hundreds of thousands converged on the historic Azadi (Freedom) Square, where President Hassan Rouhani was set to make a speech. Many demonstrators carried the traditional placards reading "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" while others carried the Iranian flag.
New Delhi, Feb 11 (IANS/WAM) Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is on a three-day visit to India, on Thursday visited Rajghat and laid a wreath at the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. Sheikh Mohamed, who observed a minute's silence in respect, also planted a sapling at the site and watered a tree that the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan had planted on a visit to India. "The world is in much need today for the principles and values that Gandhi lived by," Sheikh Mohamed wrote in the guestbook.
(Repeats Tuesday item) * Namazi was left behind in U.S.-Iran prisoner swap * Prisoner advocated U.S.-Iran rapprochement through business * Dubai-based executive may be pawn in Iran power struggle By Paul Taylor BRUSSELS, Feb 9 (Reuters) - When Iran and the United States sealed the implementation of a deal to curb Tehran's nuclear programme with a prisoner exchange last month, Siamak Namazi was among the detainees some expected to be freed by the Iranian authorities. The businessman with dual U.S.-Iranian citizenship was on a list of four prisoners to be released published by the official Islamic Republic News Agency and the Tabnak website on the day of the swap, Jan. 16. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters the following day he had commitments from Iran that Namazi's case would be resolved.
US Secretary of State John Kerry warned Tuesday that Russia's aerial bombardment of Syrian opposition targets could derail efforts to re-start talks to end the country's brutal civil war. Kerry and his Russian counterpart Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are due in Munich on Thursday to host a meeting of a 17-nation contact group designed to get the talks back on track. "There is no question, and I have said this before publicly, that Russia's activities in Aleppo and in the region right now are making it much more difficult to be able to come to the table and to be able to have a serious conversation," Kerry said.
* Says U.S. stance turning region into "sea of blood" * Says Turkey should respond with own proposed solution * U.S. envoy summoned over support for Syrian Kurds * Turkish army says soldier killed in clash with Kurds (Adds Erdogan comments on safe zone) By Daren Butler ISTANBUL, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan upbraided the United States for its support of Syrian Kurdish rebels on Wednesday, saying Washington's inability to grasp their true nature had turned the region into a "sea of blood". Turkey should respond by implementing its own solution, he said, alluding to the creation of a safe zone in northern Syria - something Ankara has long wanted but a proposal that has failed to resonate with the United States and other NATO allies.
Hassan Khomeini, grandson of the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, said Wednesday he had lost an appeal against his exclusion from elections for the powerful Assembly of Experts. "Based on news we have received, Sayyad Hassan Khomeini's qualification for candidacy for the Assembly of Experts has once again not been approved by the Guardian Council," he wrote on instant messaging service Telegram. The Guardian Council, a conservative-dominated committee that decides who can run for public office, has barred hundreds of candidates from standing for the assembly on February 26, the same day as parliamentary polls.
* Syria says Saudis cannot bear costs of intervening * Government forces aim to open highway south * Idlib's time will come, says minister By Laila Bassam and Tom Perry DAMASCUS, Feb 10 (Reuters) - The Syrian government expects a tough battle for Aleppo, the city that has become the focal point of the country's long civil war, but is confident of victory and says it won't be a long fight. Damascus aims to seal the border with Turkey, a major sponsor of the insurgents fighting President Bashar al-Assad, and to retake rebel-held areas of what was Syria's biggest city and industrial hub before the conflict began in 2011. "These battles are not easy, but the day will come, God willing, when all Aleppo - its rural areas and the occupied part of the city - will return to state authority," Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said in an interview on Wednesday.
Abu Dhabi, Feb 10 (IANS/WAM) The cooperation between India and the UAE in the energy sector is expected to grow following the visit to India of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, beginning Wednesday. The visit comes six months after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to strengthen bilateral ties and increase investments between the two countries.
Long seen as a destination strewn with shortcomings, Iran is making a fresh pitch for tourists, with the recent lifting of economic sanctions providing an opportunity to cash in. The tourism industry has been overlooked by successive governments in Tehran but the deal Iran struck with world powers over its nuclear programme last summer could change that. Along with nine companions including Americans and Germans, China-based Frenchman Yannick Lequelenec said he aims to make "one unique journey" every year.
(Repeats to add reporting credit) LONDON, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have banned Iranian-flagged vessels from entering their waters and imposed other shipping restrictions, according to ship insurers citing local reports, potentially escalating tensions between Tehran and Riyadh. Iran has been struggling to ramp up oil exports and still faces insurance and financing hurdles despite the lifting of international curbs on its banking, insurance and shipping sectors last month as part of a nuclear deal with world powers. A ban on Iranian ships in those ports is unlikely to affect international trade, although the uncertainty will add to trade hiccups for Iran.
Tehran, Feb 10 (IANS) Iran's high legislative body has reversed disqualification of hundreds of candidates for imminent parliamentary elections and expects a large number of people would participate in the parliamentary elections later this month, an Iranian Interior Ministry official announced here on Tuesday. The qualification of more than 1,500 candidates, already rejected by the Guardian Council of Constitution, was reconsidered and now they can run for parliamentary elections slated for February 26, the deputy Interior Minister, Hossein-Ali Amiri said, Xinhua reported.
* Truce proposed by states backing rebels, says adviser * Syrian army is backed by Russia and Hezbollah * Damascus aims to control border with Turkey By Tom Perry and Laila Bassam DAMASCUS, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Damascus aims to secure Syria's border with Turkey and recapture the city of Aleppo with its latest military offensive, a top adviser to President Bashar al-Assad said on Tuesday. In an interview in her Damascus office, Bouthaina Shaaban held out little hope for diplomatic efforts to end the five-year civil war, telling Reuters proposals for a ceasefire were coming from states that "do not want an end to terrorism" and wanted to shore up insurgents who are losing ground.
(Releads with Security Council meeting, Syrian minister, reports from aid workers) * Kerry seeking ceasefire, access for aid * Major powers meeting in Munich on Thursday * Little hope of breakthrough * Source says Russia pushing for battlefield victory * Syria says no halt to offensive By Michelle Nichols, Tom Perry and Humeyra Pamuk UNITED NATIONS/DAMASCUS/ONCUPINAR, Turkey, Feb 10 (Reuters) - W orld powers pressed Russia on Wednesday to stop bombing around Aleppo in support of a Syrian government offensive to recapture the city and a Western official said Moscow had presented a proposal envisaging a truce in three weeks' time. Secretary of State John Kerry is pushing for a ceasefire and more aid access to Aleppo, where rebel-held areas are being cut off and the United Nations has warned a new humanitarian disaster could be on the way.
Turkey summoned the U.S. ambassador on Tuesday after a State Department spokesman said Washington did not regard Syria's Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) as a terrorist organisation, a Turkish foreign ministry official said. Ankara sees the PYD as a sister arm of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is fighting for Kurdish autonomy in southeastern Turkey and is classed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
Shillong, Feb 9 (IANS) Indian archers continued to boost the hosts' medals tally at the 12th South Asian Games (SAG) by winning three golds in the Recurve event at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Tuesday.
Washington, Feb 11 (IANS) The US Supreme Court's surprise decision to halt President Barack Obama's climate change regulation could imperil the Paris accord and raise doubts in India and China about US commitments, according to the New York Times. The Paris Agreement committing every country to combating climate change, had as a cornerstone Obama's assurance that the US would carry out strong, legally sound policies to significantly cut carbon emissions, the influential US daily noted. "But in the capitals of India and China, two of the world's largest polluters, climate change policy experts said the Supreme Court decision threw the American commitment into question, and possibly New Delhi's and Beijing's, too," it said.
Pune, Feb 9 (IANS) Sri Lanka rode on a strong bowling performance to defeat India by five wickets in their first Twenty20 International (T20I) at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium here on Tuesday. Chasing a meagre target of 102 runs, the Lankans were boosted by a 39-run partnership by Dinesh Chandimal (35) and Chamara Kapugedera (25) to romp home with two overs to spare. Earlier, rookie pacers Kasun Rajitha (3/29) and Dasun Shanaka (3/16) played a crucial role for the visitors with a three-wicket haul each.
United Nations, Feb 10 (IANS) UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has warned of the danger of the Islamic State spreading its tentacles to South Asia through organisations like the Tehreek-e-Khilafat in Pakistan and called for international action against the grave threat. The Islamic State now controls swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria, but Ban said, "The recent expansion of the ISIL sphere of influence across West and North Africa, the Middle East and South and South-East Asia demonstrates the speed and scale at which the gravity of the threat has evolved in just 18 months." "In Afghanistan and Pakistan, ISIL continues to develop a network of contacts and sympathisers who carry out attacks in its name," Ban said.
* Kuwait says constitution limits armed role * Saudi Arabia, UAE ready to offer troops * IS claimed bombing of Kuwait mosque * Internal security has been tightened (Adds quote from constitution, context) By Sylvia Westall DUBAI, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Kuwait backs international efforts against hardline Islamist groups in Iraq and Syria although the Gulf Arab state's constitution prevents it from fighting in anything but defensive wars, a senior Kuwaiti official said. Kuwait, a U.S. ally and neighbour of Saudi Arabia and Iraq, is part of a 34-nation alliance announced by Riyadh in December aimed at countering Islamic State and al Qaeda in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan.
Shillong, Feb 9 (IANS) The Indian mixed doubles pair of Anthony Amalraj and Manika Batra defeated compatriots G. Sathiyan and Mouma Das 3-2 to win gold in the table tennis competition of the 12th South Asian Games 2016 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Sports Hall here on Tuesday.
Mosul Dam in northern Iraq, the country's largest, is at now at a "higher risk" of failure that could devastate areas to its south, according to a US assessment released by the Iraqi parliament. The dam was built on an unstable foundation that continuously erodes, and a lapse in maintenance after the Islamic State jihadist group briefly seized it in 2014 weakened the already flawed structure. "All information gathered in the last year indicates Mosul Dam is at a signficantly higher risk of failure than originally understood," said the assessment from the US Army Corps of Engineers, cited in an Iraqi parliamentary report on Monday.
Baghdad, Feb 10 (IANS) At lest 34 Islamic State militants were killed in air strikes by Iraqi and US-led coalition aircraft and artillery shelling in Iraq's western province of Anbar, a provincial security source told Xinhua. The international aircraft carried out an air strike on IS positions in a village near the town of Baghdadi leaving 22 IS militants killed and three of their vehicles destroyed, the source said on condition of anonymity. Separately, 12 IS militants were killed by the army artillery and helicopter gunships bombarded IS positions in Saqlawiyah area, just north of the IS-held city of Fallujah, the source said.
A Turkish soldier was killed and three wounded on Tuesday in clashes between security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the southeastern town of Cizre, the military said. The statement from the military also said 15 PKK members had been killed and that security operations in the area were continuing. Turkish security forces have been trying to clear southeastern towns and cities of PKK militants since last July, when a two-year ceasefire collapsed.
Lucknow, Feb 9 (IANS) The future of the BJP was bright in Uttar Pradesh, union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Tuesday. In the city on a two-day visit where he met Bharatiya Janata Party office bearers and workers, the former party president said nobody needs to worry about the prospects of the party for the assembly elections due next year. Party sources said Gadkari had meetings with senior party leaders and took "serious feedback" on the existing political situation in the state.
Barack Obama unveiled the last budget of his presidency Tuesday, a record $4.1 trillion plan that is dead-on-arrival in Congress but could shape the 2016 White House race. Legislatively, the future looks bleak for Obama's 2017 fiscal plan, which covers spending on everything from cybersecurity to the environment. It includes big-ticket investments in America's creaking infrastructure -- to the tune of $320 billion over the next decade -- and ramps up research into clean energy technologies and cancer.
The Syrian conflict, which began in March 2011 and has become more and more complex, has forced more than half of the country's inhabitants to flee their homes. The United Nations on Tuesday urged neighbouring Turkey to open its borders to the tens of thousands of Syrians who have fled a major government offensive backed by Russian air power. The main border crossing north of Syria's second city Aleppo remained closed, forcing huge crowds including women and children to sleep in tents or in the open.
Iraq has completely retaken Ramadi from the Islamic State group, but now faces the enormous challenges of removing bombs, reestablishing basic services and rebuilding the shattered city, officials said Tuesday. "All of Ramadi is now liberated" and responsibility for security is being handed over to local police, Anbar Governor Sohaib al-Rawi told journalists in Baghdad. Lise Grande, the UN's humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, said that clearing the city of explosives would cost an estimated $15 million.
France and Germany pressed the European Union on Tuesday to speed up plans designed to crack down on the funding of terrorist groups. Paris -- left reeling by two major terror attacks last year -- and Berlin want the plans implemented by June, according to a source at talks between the two governments in the French capital. "We have to accelerate the process," said French Finance Minister Michel Sapin at a press conference with his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble.