Nepal Today

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

FREE HOUSING FOR 100 CHEPANGS Kathmandu, 20 March: The government is to provide 100 houses to the people of the marginalized Chepang community in Chitwan district this yean, RSS reports from Chitwan. . The houses would be provided to 100 Chepang families free of cost with the objective of supporting the poor and homeless Chepang families earn a living. According to the Urban and Building Construction Division Office, Chitwan, it will construct 100 houses and allocate them to as many families in the hilly area of Chitawan district. It stated that a consumers committee has been formed for this purpose and works on constructing the houses would be started by mid-April this year. The Office stated that a total of four thousand such families have been identified and 550 houses have already been constructed before this. The government initiated the programme of providing houses to the underprivileged Chepangs three years back. Nnnn ELEPHANT TRAMPLES JHAPA MAN TO DEATH Kathmandu, 20 March A man has died due to an attack by an elephant at Prithvinagar in Jhapa district on Tuesday, RSS reports from Bhadrapur. . Gyan Bahadur Rai, 55, of Prithvinagar-5, who was critically injured after an elephant attacked and trampled on his head while cutting grass in the local Gaurishankar community forest, died while undergoing treatment at the Om Sai Hospital at Bhadrapur. Locals say that a herd of wild elephants that has been inhabiting in the forest at Jalthal have been wreaking havoc there and in the neighbouring areas. Nine people have died in Jhapa district this year alone due to attacks by elephants. Nnnn OBAMA HEADS FOR IRAEL AMID LOW EXPECTATIONS Kathmandu, 20 March: President Barack Obama arrives in Israel on Wednesday without any new peace initiative to offer disillusioned Palestinians and facing deep Israeli doubts over his pledge to prevent a nuclear- armed Iran, Reuters reports from Jerusalem. l. Making his first official visit here as president, Obama hopes to reset his often fraught relations with both the Israelis and Palestinians in a carefully choreographed three-day stay that is high on symbolism but low on expectations. He will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, hold separate talks in the occupied West Bank with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and address a skeptical Israeli public with a speech to students. U.S. officials say he will try to coax the Palestinians and Israelis back to peace talks. He will also seek to reassure Netanyahu he is committed to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear bomb and discuss ways of containing Syria's civil war. However, the White House has deliberately minimized hopes of any major breakthroughs, a reversal from Obama's first four years in office when aides said he would only visit the Jewish state if he had something concrete to accomplish. Workers have hung hundreds of U.S. and Israel flags on lampposts across Jerusalem, as well as banners that boast of "an unbreakable alliance," but the apparent lack of any substantial policy push has bemused many diplomats and analysts. "This seems to me to be an ill-scheduled and ill-conceived visit," said Gidi Grinstein, president of the Reut Institute, a Tel Aviv-based think tank. "On the Iranian situation, Israel and the U.S.A. don't seem to have anything new to say to each other. On Syria, the Americans don't have a clear outlook, and on the Palestinian issue, they are taking a step back and their hands off." With both Obama and Netanyahu just starting new terms and mindful that they will have to work together on volatile issues for years to come, they will be looking to avoid the kind of public confrontation that has marked past encounters. Signaling the emphasis being placed on symbolic gestures, the U.S. president plans to inspect an Iron Dome anti-missile battery when his plane lands at around 12:30 p.m. (1030 GMT). He departed the Washington area on Tuesday evening. The White House has touted the U.S.-funded system, which has helped protect Israelis from Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza, as a prime example of Obama's commitment to Israel's security - a message likely to be rammed home during the trip. Obama, accompanied by his new secretary of state, John Kerry, will hold lengthy talks with Netanyahu later on Wednesday, with Iran expected to top the agenda. Israel and the United States agree that Iran should never get a nuclear bomb, dismissing Tehran's assertion that its atomic program is peaceful. However, the two allies are at odds over how fast the clock is ticking down on the need for preventative military action should diplomacy fail. U.S. officials say Obama will urge further patience, with Washington worried that a threatened Israeli unilateral strike might drag the United States into another Middle East war. Obama, who has said he is coming to listen, will fly on Thursday by helicopter the short distance between Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah to meet Abbas. Direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2010 over the issue of Jewish settlement building in the West Bank, and Abbas's allies have expressed bitter disappointment over the lack of fresh U.S. moves. "It's not a positive visit," said Wasel Abu Yousef, a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization, led by Abbas. In Ramallah on Tuesday, Palestinian police scuffled with scores of demonstrators protesting against Obama's visit. Although Netanyahu repeated this week that he was ready to make "a historic compromise" to achieve peace, his new Cabinet has several pro-settler ministers fervently opposed to halting settlements on land Palestinians want to establish their state. Dennis Ross, Obama's former Middle East adviser, said the president was right to tread cautiously when peace prospects were dim and Israelis are more focused on what they see as greater threats presented by Iran and the war in neighboring Syria. "What you don't want to do at a time when there's enormous disbelief on the part of both parties is to do something that will fail," Ross said. nnnn EU WARNS INDIA Kathmandu, 20 March: India would be breaking international law if it stops Italy’s ambassador from leaving the country in a dispute over two Italian marines charged with killing two Indian fishermen, the European Union said Today, Reuters reports from Brussels.. The statement was the bloc’s most forceful intervention yet in the festering dispute over the marines which has soured relations between India and EU member Italy. India’s top court last week temporarily barred the envoy, Daniele Mancini, from leaving after Rome refused to send the marines back to India to face trial following a home visit. The marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, part of a security team protecting a tanker from pirates, are accused of shooting the two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala in February last year. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton noted the Indian court’s ruling about the ambassador “with concern”, Ashton’s spokesman said. Ashton regarded the 1961 Vienna Convention, which sets rules for diplomatic relations, as a cornerstone of the international legal order that should be respected at all times, he said in a statement. “Any limitations to the freedom of movement of the ambassador of Italy to India would be contrary to the international obligations established under this convention,” he added. “(Ashton) continues to hope that a mutually acceptable solution can be found through dialogue and in respect of international rules and encourages the parties to explore all avenues to that effect,” the statement said. The EU statement echoed comments by Italy’s Foreign Ministry on Monday that the Indian court’s decision violated diplomatic immunity law. India’s Supreme Court had allowed the marines to go home for four weeks to vote in last month’s parliamentary election, provided they returned. They have not done so, and Italy’s Foreign Ministry said the incident had become a formal dispute over UN laws. India’s Supreme Court said in a long-awaited ruling in January that India had jurisdiction to try the marines, but Italy has challenged that decision, arguing that the shooting took place in international waters. Italy’s announcement that the sailors would not return caused an uproar in India’s Parliament and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government is under pressure to respond forcefully. nnnn


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