Ukraine Sends Delegation to Discuss EU Deal Amid Protests
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has asked European Commission President José Manuel Barroso to receive a delegation from the Ukraine in an effort to defuse the protests in the capital Kiev. Protesters have demanded the resignation of Ukranian president after he decided to end association and free-trade deals with EU, choosing to pursue stronger ties with Russia instead. Yanukovych claimed on Ukrainian television that the deal with the EU had not been signed because he thought the agreements had been “hastily” prepared and could potentially damage domestic manufacturing. He also said that he would investigate the claims of police brutality against the anti-government protesters, as asked by Barroso. “Law enforcement officers overreacted on Friday night, and there is no justification for that. But we are fully aware that someone or something provoked them”, argued Yanukovych.
N.Korea Powerbroker Removed from Post
The National Intelligence Service of South Korea said on Tuesday that it was “very likely” that Jang Song-thaek, the uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, had been removed from his many posts in that country’s government. This would signal that Kim Jong-un saw his uncle as a threat to his power and has now cemented his authority, removing the man seen as the main architect of his fast-track grooming as designated heir to Kim Jong-il. “The intelligence agency gave us an unexpected briefing, saying that they had something urgent to report about a development of great import in North Korea. They said they believed that Jang Song-thaek had fallen from power”, said Jeong Cheong-rae a lawmaker with the opposition Democratic Party in South Korea. “This shows that Kim Jong-un’s power is solid and the North Korean elite will become more fervent to prove their loyalty to him”, said Cheong Seong-chang, an analyst at the Sejong Institute in South Korea.
Nuclear Deal Limits Dampens Enthusiasm in Iran
The initial enthusiasm for the interim nuclear deal reached between Iran and the West has been dampened internally by its complexities and gradual relaxation of sanctions, according to a report by the Reuters news agency. Most Iranians had been expecting a quicker relief from sanctions imposed on banking, trade and international travel. “I don’t know whether sanctions will be lifted soon, but of course it is my dream to reopen my factory”, said Gholam Dolatmardian, owner of a once-prosperous factory in Isfahan forced to close down in 2011 because of the sanctions, laying off a 100-strong workforce. “It was a family business and I want my children to continue it”, he added. Students also hope the lifting of sanctions will allow them to pay their education bills abroad more easily. “If they allow families to transfer and wire money from Iran, that could be great because we have so many problems with transferring money,” said Misagh Heidari, currently pursuing a degree at California State University.
French Scientists Say Arafat ‘Probably Not Poisoned’
Contradicting a report published by Swiss scientists in November claiming stating that former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat may have been poisoned to death with polonium-210, French experts published a report on Tuesday maintaining that he died a natural death in 2004. “The report rules out the poisoning theory”, said a source heard by the AFP news agency. French doctors had been unable to say what killed him and an autopsy was never performed after his death in a hospital near Paris in November 2004. Meanwhile, the head of the official Palestinian Authority investigation into Arafat’s death said he would soon be naming the people responsible for late leader’s death. “I promise that the next press conference will be the last, and will cast into the light of day everyone who perpetrated, took part in, or conspired in the matter,” said Tawfiq Tirawi during an interview with Palestine Today television.