News from South Asia, Thursday 6th June 2013

Pakistan:

Dawn: At least sixteen security personnel in Quetta have been injured in the wake of a suicide blast. “The casualties occurred during a security forces’ search operation which turned into a clash. Militants attacked the forces with hand grenades and opened fire on them, resulting in the injuries.

Moreover, militants blew themselves up to avoid arrest during the shootout. The explosion is also said to have killed members of the militants’ families. Subsequently, the bodies were shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta.”

Sky News: Pakistan’s newly elected prime minister has called for the US to end its drone strike campaign. “US drone strikes in the country’s tribal northwest were among the issues he chose to tackle on his first day in charge.

‘We respect the sovereignty of others and they should also respect our sovereignty and independence,’ he warned.

‘This campaign should come to an end.'”

Analysis: Amnesty International: Pakistan’s new government must not allow peace talks with the Taliban to infringe on human rights. “‘Pakistan has just passed a historic political milestone by seeing through this democratic transition. The new administration must now seize the opportunity to tackle the many human rights challenges facing the country,’ said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.”

Afghanistan:

Independent: British forces are handing detainees back to Afghan authorities. “The transfer of detainees had been suspended in November amid concerns prisoners were being mistreated, but now, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond now says the moves are safe.

The decision follows revelations that last week up to 90 Afghans were being held by British forces at Camp Bastion, after which Mr Hammond suggested that the detainees could be handed over.

Lawyers acting on behalf of the suspects claimed their internment could have been unlawful, bringing High Court action on behalf of two of the men.”

India:

IBN Live: Three suspected terrorists from Pakistan have been detained in Uttar Pradesh. “The three men have admitted to have received terror training in Pakistan but claim they were on their way to Jammu and Kashmir to surrender.

The police say the suspects had entered India through Nepal. Acting on a tip-off that three suspected terrorists, who had once worked for Hizbul Mujahideen and JKLF, have arrived through a Pakistani airlines flight in Kathmandu on June 3 and would be entering the country from Rupaideeh, SSB personnel detained the them on Wednesday afternoon, Deputy Commandant of SSB, Mitul Kumar said. SSB guards the 1,751 km Indo-Nepal border.”

Indian Express: The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has said the Naxalites have failed to gain a foothold in the state due to continuous vigiliance, despite the best efforts of the Maoists. “In her address at the Chief Ministers’ conference on Internal Security at New Delhi, which was read out by Minister for Municipal Administration K P Munusamy, she said, ‘Although persistent attempts have been made by Maoists to strike roots in the State, they have not been allowed to gain a foothold, thanks to ceaseless vigilance particularly in the tri-junction area between Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala where some intelligence inputs indicated that Naxalites were likely to try to establish their presence.'”

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News from North America, Thursday 6th June 2013

BBC News: “US President Barack Obama has named US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice as his national security adviser.

In a second-term shuffle of his foreign policy team, the president also nominated human rights researcher Samantha Power to replace Ms Rice.

Ms Rice will take over from Tom Donilon, who will step down in July.

She was once seen as a contender for the job of secretary of state, but was forced to withdraw amid opposition from Republicans in Congress.

The criticism – dismissed by the White House – centred on her remarks after an attack on US diplomats in Libya.”

The Guardian: “The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.

The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an ‘ongoing, daily basis’ to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.”

Washington Post: “In an unemotional, almost rote capitulation of one of the worst atrocities of the Afghanistan war, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales on Wednesday acknowledged rampaging through two villages, killing 16 Afghan civilians and burning many of their bodies.

He had little to offer as explanation for the killings.

When asked by a military judge why he had carried out the March 2012 rampage, the 39-year-old Bales was matter-of-fact in his response: ‘I’ve asked that question a million times, and there is not a good reason in the world for the horrible things I did.’

The exchange occurred shortly before the judge, Col. Jeffery Nance, accepted guilty pleas from Bales on charges of murder, attempted murder and aggravated assault as well as the unlawful use of steroids and alcohol at a U.S. military camp in Kandahar province. In exchange, he will avoid the death penalty when sentenced in August.”

The Guardian: “A Massachusetts man is facing his second month in jail without bail on terrorism charges because of a Facebook in a case that free speech advocates argue is prosecutorial overreach.

High school student Cameron D’Ambrosio called the White House a ‘federal house of horrors’ and made a reference to the Boston Marathon bombings in the post that has landed him in jail. He has since plead not guilty to a charge of ‘communicating a terroristic threat,’ which holds a prison sentence of up to 20 years.”

Daily Telegraph: “Several weeks after overseeing the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, then-CIA Director Leon Panetta violated security rules by revealing the name of the raid commander to the writer of the film ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ according to a draft report by US Defence Department investigators.

The unpublished report was first disclosed by the Project on Government Oversight and confirmed by Rep. Peter King, who asked for the investigation nearly two years ago.”

Huffington Post: “After years of pressure from civil rights groups and lawmakers who say attacks against religious and ethnic minorities are not adequately monitored by law enforcement, the FBI will begin formally tracking hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindus and Arabs.

Meeting in Portsmouth, Va., on Wednesday, an FBI advisory board voted to expand standard hate-crime incident reports used by thousands of police departments across the country to include crimes motivated by bias against the two religious groups, as well as Arabs.”

Chicago Tribune: “Brian James Moudry was just 14 and had been in and out of psychiatric care when he began doodling Nazi drawings and discussing white pride in letters to his physically abusive father, according to court records.

Diagnosed with severe schizophrenia that went largely untreated, Moudry listened to satanic heavy metal music and suffered from paranoid delusions. He attempted suicide, lashed out at authority and used a hot nail to carve an inverted cross into his forehead.

On Wednesday, the 36-year-old avowed white supremacist was sentenced to the maximum 10 years in prison for setting fire to the home of African-American neighbors in Joliet in June 2007. Nine family members, eight of them children 14 and under, were inside the residence about 4 a.m. when Moudry poured gasoline and ignited the blaze, but they all managed to escape, and damage was limited.”

Comment: CNN: ‘What works in fighting terrorism’ by Ali Soufan. “The Achilles heel of America’s policy against terrorism is its failure to counter the narratives that inspire individuals to become extremists and terrorists.

That’s why — despite the skill and numerous successes of our military, intelligence and law enforcement agencies — the type of tragic events seen most recently with the stabbings of soldiers in London and outside Paris, and the April bombing of the Boston Marathon, will continue to occur. We’re failing to use a key weapon that needs to be used.

There’s no question that the United States has been extremely effective tactically against al Qaeda and other terrorist groups since 9/11. Our military, intelligence and law enforcement agencies have done what they were charged with doing, from routing them in Afghanistan to hunting down Osama bin Laden to thwarting plots against New York.

But this isn’t enough. For as long as extremists are able to attract new recruits, they’ll keep producing replacements for those killed or apprehended and the battle will never end. This is why the strategic tool known as ‘countering violent extremism,’ or CVE, has to be used alongside special operations, drones and other weapons.”

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News from South Asia, Wednesday 5th June 2013

Pakistan:

Pakistan Today: A major terrorist attack has been foiled in Faisalabad. “According to details, police chased the suspects when they sped away from a checkpoint in Ghulam Muhammad Abad area. Later, the vehicle was found abandoned on a roadside. The suspects managed to escape from the scene.

The police recovered heavy weapons including three suicide vests, 60 hand grenades, four Kalashnikovs, wireless communication devices, bullets and explosives from the car.”

Afghanistan:

Voice of America: The Taliban are inflicting heavy losses on the Afghan National Army as indigenous forces take the lead for Afghanistan’s security. “U.S. Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford spoke to reporters on the sidelines of a gathering where U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel joined NATO defense ministers to talk about the way forward in Afghanistan as international forces prepare to draw down next year.

As that drawdown nears, international troops are taking up more of a support role and it is the Afghans who are in the lead against the insurgents. Now on the front lines with international troops only providing backup, the Afghans are at risk for greater losses.

Several weeks into the fighting season, General Dunford said the Taliban has done what it said it would do: step up high-profile assaults and insider attacks to create fear and intimidation.”

Khaama Press: A senior Taliban leader has been killed in Wardak province. “NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) following a statement announced, ‘Afghan and coalition security force killed a senior Taliban leader, Obaidullah Jan, and two other extremists during an operation in Sayyidabad district, Wardak province, yesterday.

Jan had operational control of a group of fighters responsible for conducting numerous ambushes and other attacks against Afghan and coalition fighters. He also facilitated the movement of weapons and military equipment to local Taliban cells and was involved in the construction and emplacement of improvised explosive devices.’”

India:

Dawn: An Indian policeman and five others were injured in a grenade attack on Tuesday by suspected militants in Indian-administered Kashmir.

“‘Militants hurled a grenade at two army vehicles that were parked along the highway injuring a head constable and five civilians,’ superintendent of police, Ramesh Jala, told AFP over the phone.

No militant group claimed responsibility for the explosion in Anantnag town, 50 kilometres south of the main city of Srinagar. The attack comes less than a week after suspected militants of the Hizbul Mujahideen, one of around a dozen rebel groups said to be fighting to end Indian rule over Kashmir, killed two Indian soldiers in an ambush in which one militant also died.”

The Times of India: Maoist rebels and security personnel exchanged fire yesterday in the state of Chhatisgarh, with one member of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) being injured.

“In yet another Maoist attack on Tuesday, a constable of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) was injured in an exchange of fire at Khallari in Dhamtari district.

Police sources said the exchange of fire took place in the afternoon, when CRPF men and district force were on a combing operation. ‘The rebels opened indiscriminate fire on noticing the troops approaching them. The security personnel Jeetendra Yadav, who sustained bullet injuries on his legs, was rushed to the district hospital,’ said a senior official. This is the second incident in a span of four days. A CRPF assistant commandant, S K Das, was killed in the same area on June 1 in an exchange of fire with Maoists.”

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News from North America, Wednesday 5th June 2013

New York Times: “Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people, told a judge on Tuesday that he believed he was defending the lives of the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan from American military personnel when he went on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood here in November 2009.

Major Hasan’s remarks were the first public explanation about the motive for one of the deadliest mass shootings at an American military base. His comments came a day after the judge granted his request to release his court-appointed military lawyers so that he could represent himself.”

LA Times: “In key rulings Tuesday, the judge in the Colorado theater shooting case accepted James E. Holmes’ plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, ordered him to undergo mental examinations and ruled that a contested notebook he sent to his psychiatrist must be turned over to the prosecution.

The decisions by Judge Carlos Samour Jr. resolved key legal issues that had been crawling through the courts for nearly a year.”

Huffington Post: “Muslims in the United States have grappled with the consequences of extremism since Sept. 11, 2001, when the actions of 19 men affiliated with al Qaeda ushered in a new era, when fingers are invariably pointed at followers of Islam whenever a terrorist attack takes place.

Since then, Muslim activists have spearheaded efforts to eradicate the perception that Islam is a violent or extreme religion — often laboring to disseminate the simple message that the vast majority of Islam’s 1.6 billion followers worldwide denounce terrorism.

The Boston Marathon bombings in April posed not only a major setback to more than a decade of work, but also a newer challenge: how to counter online radicalization, a known recruitment tool used by terrorist networks overseas, which appeared to have a significant impact on the suspected perpetrators of the attacks that left three dead and hundreds injured.”

New York Times: Cambridge, Mass – “For Mr. Payack, a university professor and poet who moonlights as an assistant wrestling coach at his city’s major public high school, it was well-worn territory — he has run the Boston Marathon a dozen times. He was about a block and a half from the finish line when the two bombs went off, killing three people and wounding more than 260.

Four days later, he learned that one of the suspects in the attack was as familiar to him as the race’s route.

‘I’m a marathoner, my son’s running, and the guy who blows up the Boston Marathon is one of my wrestlers,’ Mr. Payack said recently, referring to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old who the authorities say teamed up with his brother, Tamerlan, 26, to set off the explosions.

It is a link that still haunts Mr. Payack and others in this community more than a month after the attack. People knew and liked Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. And they are struggling to square the accusations against the Tsarnaevs with the diversity and tolerance that they view as inherent in this deeply diverse and long-progressive city.”

Yahoo News: “Internet postings with anti-Muslim hate messages may soon be subject to federal criminal laws, according to Bill Killian, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

On Tuesday, Killian and the FBI office in Knoxville, Tenn., and Bill Killian, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, will be holding a meeting with Muslim leaders in the area.

Killian and Kenneth Moore, the FBI special agent from the Knoxville office, will be special speakers at a special meeting entitled ‘Public Disclosure in a Diverse Society.’ They will be speaking with the Muslim community in Knoxville to inform them of their civil rights, as they pertain to hate speech and hate crimes.

Twitter feeds, however, have been rife with calls to action against the event.”

It was later reported by the Chattanooga Times Free Press that the event was met with a hostile crowd. Counter-jihad activists Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller have claimed that 2,000 people were present at an AFDI rally outside the building.

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News from the United Kingdom, Wednesday 5th June 2013

Huffington PostEDL march with Muslims in Ipswich in memory of Lee Rigby. ‘It might seem a provocative pairing, but when the English Defence League marched with Islamic charity Jimas to pay tribute to Lee Rigby, the protest was peaceful. Since the Woolwich attack, the far-right group has clashed with anti-fascist organisations in marches organised in response to the killing.’

The TelegraphMI5 chief Andrew Parker briefs Cabinet on Woolwich investigation. ‘The meeting is thought to be the first one to be briefed by Andrew Parker, the director general of the Security Service, since he took over in April. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said that Mr Parker addressed the Cabinet with Home secretary Theresa May.’

BBC NewsUKIP’s Chris Pain steps down as regional chairman in racist probe. ‘The East Midlands regional chairman of UKIP has stepped down over alleged racist comments posted on Facebook. Chris Pain, a Lincolnshire councillor for Boston, blamed the remarks on a hacker but said he was stepping down as a “gesture of goodwill”.’

Evening StandardHate preacher Anjem Choudary: murdered soldier Lee Rigby will burn in hellfire. ‘Hate preacher Anjem Choudary has claimed murdered soldier Lee Rigby will “burn in hellfire” as a non-Muslim while praising a suspect in the killing as a martyr. The extremist cleric is reported to have been filmed making the incendiary comments to followers at his office in east London.’

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News from Central and Eastern Europe, Wednesday 5th June 2013

BULGARIA

The Sofia Globe: Bulgaria has held more than 200 would-be illegal immigrants so far this year. ‘The latest arrest by Bulgarian border police of would-be illegal migrants, six people who said they were from Syria and Palestine, brings the number of people attempting illegal border crossings into Bulgaria to more than 230.

The warmer weather is seeing an increase in the number of attempts at illegal migration.

Between January and the end of April 2013, the number of people detained was about 98, going by statements by Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry.

Between the beginning of May and June 4, the total was 116.

In line with the trends of months, many of those attempting illegal entry are from Syria, currently seized by widespread violence under the Assad regime.’

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News from Western Europe, Wednesday 5th June 2013

AUSTRIA

Translated from German – Die Presse: Freedom Party makes a stirOnce again, a Facebook posting of the FPÖ up a storm.The reason for the slip-up this time was a call to the Muslim Youth of Austria to help with the cleanup after the flood. “To all Muslim youth: Austria needs you,” wrote the organization on Facebook and on her website The FPÖ Traismauer replied via facebook posting., “I think the Austrians get on very well without you cope! And that (sic) in every respect! ”

Local Party boss Michael Schuller on Tuesday apologized for the posting. He had deleted it personally. “The entry did not meet my view, what the catastrophic situation of flood concerns,”‘

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News from South Asia, Tuesday 4th June 2013

Pakistan:

Zee News: Pakistani political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman has dismissed the idea of the party participating in peace talks with the Taliban. “In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Rahman said neither has there been any contacts, nor has the government approached the JUI-F regarding the talks, reports The Nation.

The Pakistani Taliban refused to participate in peace talks with the country’s new government and vowed to take ‘revenge in the strongest way’ after Wali ur-Rehman, the second-ranking leader of the group, was killed in a suspected U.S. drone strike.”

Afghanistan:

Pakistan Daily Times: The Afghan Taliban have sent a delegation to Iran. “’Some while ago a delegation headed by the Islamic Emirate’s political office chief had a three-day visit to Iran’s capital, Tehran,’ the Taliban said in an emailed statement using the group’s formal title. ‘The visit was to discuss mutual interests of both sides after which the delegation returned back.’ No further details were given about who the Taliban met in Tehran or the exact dates or purpose of the visit, which was the first reported trip by insurgent representatives to Iran. A separate Taliban group also made another visit to Iran to attend a conference, the statement said.

India:

The Times of India: Following the attack by Maoist rebels on May 25, seven new police stations have been set up throughout the state of Chhattisgarh.

“Soon after the gruesome Maoist attack that took place on May 25, killing 30 persons including senior Congress leaders, the state police has sanctioned seven new police stations in several districts of Chhattisgarh to improve law and order situation.

The proposal for new police stations, which was lingering since long was sanctioned by inspector general of police G P Singh on May 30. As per the orders, Kabirnagar and Sejabahar would get two police stations in Raipur while a new polic station would be at Akla Dongri in Dhamtari district. Atarmara at Panduka block in Gariyaband district, Kurushnar in Maoist hot-bed of Narayanpur district, Gurgum at Jagdalpur district and Faraspal and Mahendra Karma’s native place in Dantewada district would have one new police station each.”

Bangladesh:

The Indian Express:  Bangladesh’s main opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has returned to the Parliament after an 83-day government boycott.

“Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), led by chairperson Khaleda Zia, returned to the House yesterday and staged a dramatic walkout soon after. They returned to the Parliament again today but surprisingly preferred not to initiate talks on restoring the caretaker government system, their primary demand. ‘Yes, we are joining the session in the afternoon certainly we will return,’ senior BNP lawmaker and former law minister Maudud Ahmed told PTI. But he added that for ‘technical reasons’ the opposition has decided not to place any proposal for restoring the scrapped caretaker government system for overseeing elections despite their prolonged and massive campaign over the issue.”

Bangladesh News 24 Hours: One of Islami Chhatra Shibir’s leaders, Tarek Hossain, has been arrested.

Police nabbed Islami Chhatra Shibir President of Chittagong Metropolitan (south) Tarek Hossain from a house in the port city’s Ek Kilometre area. He was nabbed during a raid around 2:00 am on Monday, Kotwali Police Station Officer in-Charge AKM Mahiuddin Selim said.

The Shibir President was allegedly carrying out organisational operations in the district from that house. Tarek was named in multiple cases pertaining to incidents of violence that had taken place in Chittagong after the death verdict against Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee was pronounced.”

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News from North America, Tuesday 4th June 2013

BBC News: “Military prosecutors have said US soldier Bradley Manning ‘systematically harvested’ a vast trove of secret documents to share with Wikileaks.

At the start of Pte Manning’s court martial, a prosecutor said Osama Bin Laden had received leaked information.

But defence lawyers said Pte Manning, 25, was young and naive when he shared the files with the anti-secrecy site.

He has not denied his role in the leak, and faces up to life in prison if convicted of aiding the enemy.”

Reuters: “A Mississippi martial arts instructor was named in a five-count indictment charging him with mailing ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and two other public officials, authorities said on Monday.

The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi said James Everett Dutschke, 41, who was arrested on April 27, faced a maximum penalty of life in prison for threatening the president and others by mail and ‘possessing a biological agent, toxin and delivery system for use as a weapon.’”

The Guardian: “The US army psychiatrist charged in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage will represent himself at his upcoming murder trial, meaning he will question the more than two dozen soldiers he’s accused of wounding, a military judge ruled Monday.

Major Nidal Hasan’s attorneys will remain on the case but only if he asks for their help, the judge said. Hasan, 42, faces the death penalty or life in prison without parole if convicted of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.”

Daily Telegraph: “A man who gave his children Nazi-inspired names dressed up in full fascist regalia on Monday as he appeared in a US court seeking to secure visitation rights to his youngest son.

Heath Campbell – father of Adolf Hitler Campbell, 7, Joyce Lynn Aryan Nation Campbell, 6, Honzlynn Jeannie Campbell, 5, and Heinrich Hons Campbell, 18 months – donned a German Nazi uniform for the hearing in Flemington, New Jersey.

The 40-year-old, who also sports a large swastika tattoo on his neck, was appearing before the court in a bid to win the rights to see Heinrich Hons, who was taken into care by social services shortly after his birth in November 2011.”

The Gazette: “The U.S. Postal Inspector will investigate reports from several Security-Widefield residents who received invitations to join the Ku Klux Klan that were taped to their mail boxes Sunday.

El Paso County Sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Kramer confirmed they got calls from alarmed residents on Drew Drive, Cardinal Street and Painted Rock Drive.

‘We contacted the postal inspector, who indicated this was a violation of federal law,’ Kramer said. ‘The Sheriff’s Office will play an assistant role to the investigation.’

The fliers were in ziploc bags, containing literature targeting racial groups and listing a phone number that resulted in a voice message claiming white supremacy.”

Comment: Huffington Post: ‘Pushing Past the ‘Grey Area’ on Homegrown Radicalization’ by Peter Henne and Jonathan Kennedy. “In a recent article in Foreign Policy, Jane Harman echoes a growing concern that homegrown radicalization is likely to persist even if the United States successfully disrupts terrorist threats overseas. We wholeheartedly agree with Harman that the United States must do more to prevent radicalization here at home. We would like to push her point even further, however, and highlight three aspects of homegrown radicalization that remain ambiguous in her argument, as well as current efforts to address them.”

Comment: Huffington Post: ‘Winning the Ideological Battle Against Terrorism’ by Salam Al Marayati. “In President Obama’s counterterrorism speech at the National Defense University, he said, ‘The success of American Muslims’ is the antidote to al-Qaeda’s narrative and that of its affiliates.

On the one hand, the U.S. is winding down its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and shrinking those theaters as major front lines in the fight against terrorism. On the other hand, the front line has shifted to the U.S., where lone wolves get captivated by Internet theater, luring them with false promises of delivering justice in exchange for their self-destruction. In that line of thinking, a moment has arrived for American Muslims — prevail or perish, not in a physical sense, but in terms of relevance to America and to young American Muslims, in terms of winning the ‘battle of wills and battle of ideas’ against Muslim extremism, and in terms of overcoming fear about Islam along with intimidation towards its adherents.”

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News from Central and Eastern Europe, Tuesday 4th June 2013

BALKANS

B92: Serbia determined to protect Kosovo Serbs’ rights. ‘The Serbian president made the statement during Monday’s meeting with Philippe Douste-Blazy, under-secretary general of the United Nations and France’s former minister of foreign affairs.

In what was described as “a cordial and friendly conversation,” Nikolić informed his guest about progress Serbia has made in this respect.

The Serbian president said that his country will never recognize Kosovo, but added “it is willing to make agreements on all other issues with interim institutions in Priština.”

The president’s press service quoted Douste-Blazy as saying that he was “amazed at the courage and determination of the Serbian authorities” to reach a compromise solution to the issue of the southern province in a constructive way, in order for all the citizens in Kosovo and Metohija to be able to expect a better and safer future.’

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