Indonesia demands protection of tropical forests

By NNN-Antara

Nusa Dua : The Indonesian forest minister called for an international recognition for the protection of tropical forests, on the Forest Day of the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali on Saturday.

Indonesia expected an international agreement which would create incentives for sustainable forest management via market mechanisms, Malam Sambat Kaban said in Nusa Dua.

Indonesia and other countries with tropical forests have been pressing for financial rewards to protect the woodlands.


16 rebels killed in northern Sri Lanka

By Xinhua

Colombo : At least 16 Tamil Tiger rebels were killed and three government soldiers injured Saturday in clashes in northern Sri Lanka, the military said Sunday.

Four Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels were killed and many injured in a confrontation in the Kallikulam area of Mannar district, officials from the Media Centre for National Security said.

At least 10 LTTE rebels were killed and three soldiers injured in two battles Saturday morning in Vavuniya district.

Uribe, Chavez urged to settle their differences


Bogota : Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez have been urged by a group of 80 people from both countries to put an end to their differences, Spanish news agency EFE reported Sunday.

The group comprising of politicians, diplomats, academics and journalists, has made this request to the duo in a letter published in Colombian media Saturday.

In their letter, they urged both presidents to avoid giving statements that "only serve to escalate the crisis" between the two bordering countries.


Russian FM questions NATO current policies


Moscow : Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov renewed Saturday his country's concerns towards the North Atlantic Treat Organization's (NATO) intentions from massing troops on Europe.

He told INTERFAX News Agency that the geographic region which NATO's troops settled in made it very difficult for Russia to conduct military maneuver to the east.

Lavrov questioned the presence of the NATO troops, saying that the numbers were huge.

The numbers should be set, said the Russian official who claimed that NATO disregarded this call.


Sikhs students allowesd to carry small daggers to school

By NNN-Bernama

Melbourne : Sikh students would be allowed to carry small daggers to school under a plan that has outraged teachers and principals, a report said.

A Victorian parliamentary committee inquiry into uniforms found all schools should accommodate clothing or other items that are religiously significant, including the hijab in state schools.


Cuba cooperates in Human Rights

By NNN-Prensa Latina

United Nations : Cuba has announced its decision to strengthen cooperation with human rights in response to an end of the anti-Cuban UN Human Rights Commission and birth of the Human Rights Council.

The Cuban mission to the UN circulated a document at the headquarters Saturday stating that there is no reason to justify setting apart Cuba in Geneva or any other multilateral scenario.

It added that Cuba has a long history of cooperation in all spheres of human rights that are applied on universal and unprejudiced bases.


Optimism at halfway stage in negotiations for future climate change regime

By Xinhua

Bali, Indonesia : As negotiations on shaping an agreement on a future climate deal reached the halfway stage in Bali, there was optimism that progress was being made on the main building blocks which will shape the agreement.


U.S. Justice Department, CIA to probe destroyed tapes

By Xinhua

Washington : The U.S. Justice Department said Saturday that it will work with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to jointly investigate the destruction of videotapes recording CIA interrogations of two al-Qaida suspects.

The Justice Department's assistant attorney general for national security, Kenneth L. Wainstein, made the announcement in a letter to the CIA's top lawyer, John Rizzo.

The probe will determine "whether further investigation is warranted," Wainstein said.


China to raise reserve requirement ratio for 10th time this year

By Xinhua

Beijing : China will raise the reserve requirement ratio by one percentage point for commercial banks in an effort to cool the booming economy, the central bank announced Saturday.

The move, which will take effect on Dec. 25, will push the ratio to a new high of 14.5 percent, after it reached a ten-year high of 13.5 percent on Nov. 26.

Official results of Russian parliamentary elections announced

By Xinhua

Moscow : United Russia, President Vladimir Putin's party, won 64.3 percent of the votes in the elections to the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, as final official results were announced on Saturday.