Thursday, November 22, 2007

Russian liaison officers to be posted at US missile sites

WASHINGTON, USA (November 22.2007) - The US sent Russia a formal proposal for cooperation on missile defense in Eastern Europe yesterday. A proposal aimed at discouraging Russia from withdrawing from a vital European arms control treaty was also sent.

The US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are expected to discuss the documents on November 26.The missile defense proposal included offers Rice and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates made during talks in Moscow in October of this year.

The offers include allowing Russian experts to regularly inspect the U.S. missile defense site in Poland (contingent on Poland's approval); integrating the U.S., NATO and Russian missile defense systems to expand protection; and delaying the activation of the U.S. missile defense system.

Russian concerns about US plans to base missile defences in eastern Europe are being heard by Washington, President Vladimir Putin said today.

"I talked about this with President Bush on the phone the other day," Putin told journalists.

"It seems that our concerns are being listened to" in Washington, he said.

The Russian leader recalled that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defence Secretary Robert Gates had made "certain offers" on the missile defence plan when they visited Moscow last month.

The U.S. officials have said those offers included delaying activation of the system until Washington and Moscow agreed on "definitive proof" of missile threats, as well as posting Russian liaison officers at the US missile sites.

Russian experts will make regular inspections of the U.S. missile site in Poland and in the Czech Republic. The U.S. officials have emphasized that the offer is contingent on approval from Poland and the Czech Republic.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier today that Moscow had received Washington's missile defense proposals in writing and was studying them.

"The American side late yesterday evening finally handed to Russia written proposals on missile defence. We are studying them," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said.

The U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov are expected to discuss the proposals Monday ahead of the Annapolis conference.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visits Antarctica to see global warming's impact

ANTARCTICA (November 10,2007) - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited the Antarctica yesterday to see firsthand the impact of climate change and the melting of glaciers.

He flew from Chile's southernmost city of Punta Arenas to that country's station on the Antarctica, Chilean Air Force base, accompanied by Chilean officials and scientists.

From there, he took a 45-minute flight over the region, seeing several glaciers.

The U.N. Secretary-General also visited the Antarctic bases of Uruguay and South Korea, his home country. At the Korean base he was greeted by a small reception and offered traditional Korean food and drink. He then returned to Punta Arenas.

On Thursday, Ban Ki-moon attended the opening of the Ibero-American summit, a gathering of leaders from Latin American countries, Spain and Portugal, that is being held in Santiago, Chile.

He told summit delegates that global warming will be a central concern of his term as head of the world body.

Today, Ban Ki-moon was scheduled to visit Torres del Paine national park, where experts say the effects of global warming on glaciers are evident.

"This trip, you may call it an eco-trip, but I'm not here as a tourist," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters.

"I'm here as a messenger of all the warnings on climate change.I'm here to observe the impact of the global warming phenomena, to see for myself and to learn all I can about what's happening in Antarctica and actually around the world," he said.

During the briefing, the scientists told the UN Secretary General of melting glaciers both in Antarctica and the southern end of the Andes that they attributed to climate change.

The examples included the fate of an ice cap known as the Larsen platform that melted away in just 20 days, despite its considerable size of 400 square kilometers.Hannah Point Glacier, for its part, receded 120 meters (yards) in several years.

After touring three scientific bases in the region Ban described what he had seen as beautiful but disturbing. Ban is preparing for a U.N. climate change conference in Indonesia, in December 2007, which is expected to kick off talks on a new accord to curb carbon emissions after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.