Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category

G7 finance ministers reject protectionist measures

February 14, 2009

Rejecting protectionism, the Group of Seven finance ministers pledged Saturday to work together to support growth and employment and to strengthen the banking system so the world can overcome its worst financial crisis in 50 years.

But the bad news continues. The final statement on their two-day meeting in Rome also predicts a gloomy forecast, with the severe economic downturn continuing through most of 2009.

By COLLEEN BARRY and ARIEL DAVID, Associated Press Writers

The G-7 ministers warned that any protectionist measures to boost national economies would only undermine global prosperity. They also stressed the need to support developing countries to prevent the world’s poorest from being the biggest losers in the downturn.

“The stabilization of the global economy and financial markets remains our highest priority,” the statement said, noting that the world’s seven most industrialized countries have “collectively taken exceptional measures” to address the challenges.

The statement endorses the U.S. and British approach to fixing the banking system by recapitalizing banks. The ministers also said a way must be found to deal with the banks’ toxic assets, however no prescription was laid out.

The meeting marked the international debut of new U.S Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who conferred with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke as the session began Saturday at the Italian Finance Ministry.

Geithner smiled at cameras, but declined to respond, when asked if any progress was being made.

The G-7 countries urged China to continue allowing its currency to rise in value to even out the world’s massive trade imbalances. But there was no reference to comments Geithner made in Washington that were seen as a strong rebuke of China’s currency policy, which many believe keeps the yuan artificially low to boost exports.

Geithner, who arrived after a week of widespread criticism over the rollout of the administration’s new bank bailout plan, got a boost with Friday’s passage of President Barack Obama‘s $787 billion plan to resuscitate the economy.

But new economic data out Friday in Europe showed the continent’s recession deepening, lending urgency to the ministers’ task.

The ministers from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, along with their central bankers, are looking for agreement on common approaches to the crisis, with the United States pushing for a bold approach to match its stimulus package.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090214
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Most World Leaders Encouraged By Obama Time; Putin Ready for Disappointment

January 21, 2009

Asked about the prospects of the world with a President of the United States Barack Obama, Russin Preident Vladimir Putin said, “I am deeply convinced that the biggest disappointments are born out of big expectations.”

Other world leaders were more upbeat…

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AFP

Obama-fever swept the globe Tuesday (20 Jan) carrying widespread public hopes that the incoming US president would lead the world into a new crisis-free era.

In the hours before Barack Obama took the oath of office in Washington, foreign governments and new polls all showed huge support for the Democratic president even though many analysts have warned that expectations for his rule are unrealistic.

Pictures of Obama dominated front pages and television news programmes around the world. Spain’s El Pais newspaper published a photo of Obama and his wife Michelle above the headline: “The American Dream Comes to Power”

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero said an “Obama effect” could shorten the global recession.

“In my opinion, the economic crisis could be shorter than expected if the new administration of Barack Obama generates confidence,” said Zapatero.

“We could see a rebound faster than expected, it is a question of confidence because the fundamentals of the global economy are good enough,” added the socialist premier.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was looking forward to working closely with Obama, a spokesman for the German leader said.

Obama will make two visits to Europe in April for an international summit on the economic crisis and a NATO alliance meeting.

“In general, we are looking forward to co-operating with the new US president and are expecting to tackle the many questions which concern us both,” spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm told a news conference.

Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown has already said the Middle East should be Obama’s top foreign priority and other leaders have also pressed the case for issues ranging from climate change to helping the world’s poor.

Hopes that Obama can improve US ties with the rest of the world have grown in the run-up to his inauguration, according to a poll of people in 17 countries for the BBC World Service radio.

An average of 67% of people believe Obama will strengthen America’s relations abroad, with more than 50% thinking so in all but two — Japan and Russia — of the countries polled.

The global financial crisis should be Obama’s top priority, followed by pulling US troops out of Iraq, tackling climate change, and brokering peace in the Middle East, the survey said.

Ghanaians are most positive, on 87%, followed by Italy (79%), Germany and Spain (78% each), and France (76%), followed by Mexico and Nigeria (74% each).

Polls in Canada suggest more than 80% of people there approve of the new US president. Obama could visit Canada in Feb and its Prime Minister Stephen Harper described the trip as “a wonderful gesture and a great sign of re-establishing the strong Canadian-American relations.”

But Harper was also among leaders to douse hopes that Obama could fix all problems ranging from wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan to the economic crisis and global warming.

“None of us are under any illusions about the great challenges that face President Obama,” commented Harper, who said Obama should concentrate on the economy.

Other warnings have already come from Germany where Merkel said last week that there would be “very serious discussions” if the United States gave what Europe considers unfair help to its ailing auto industry.

Russia has expressed hope that Obama will make concessions on US plans to build a missile shield in central Europe and on NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine, which Russia considers its sphere of influence.

But Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin expressed scepticism while on a trip to Berlin on Saturday (17 Jan). “I am deeply convinced that the biggest disappointments are born out of big expectations,” he said of Obama’s inauguration.

“Familiarity with Obama seems to be breeding hope,” said Steven Kull of the University of Maryland in the United States, which compiled the BBC survey with polling firm GlobeScan.

Read the rest:
http://www.mysinchew.com/node/20349?tid=14

Gaza: Israeli Troops Out By Obama Inauguration

January 19, 2009

Israeli officials say their troops will leave the Gaza Strip before President-elect Barack Obama is inaugurated on Tuesday.

This is the first official indication that Israel plans a rapid withdrawal of its forces after announcing a unilateral cease-fire Saturday in its devastating three-week offensive against Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
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Israel made this plan known at a dinner Sunday with European leaders who were in the region in an effort to  secure the fragile cease-fire that Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers declared on Sunday.  The cease fire follows  a three-week Israeli offensive.

Israeli leaders said the pullout could only be possible if militants continue to halt their fire.

Thousands of Israeli troops have already started to leave Gaza. Hamas declared a weeklong truce on Sunday.

At the dinner, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told his guests that his country had no desire to stay in Gaza.

“We didn’t set out to conquer Gaza. We didn’t set out to control Gaza. We don’t want to remain in Gaza and we intend on leaving Gaza as fast as possible,” Olmert told the leaders of Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said that if Gaza remains quiet, Israel’s departure will be “almost immediate.”
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 The head of the Hamas administration claimed a “popular victory” against Israel.

“The enemy has failed to achieve its goals,” Ismail Haniyeh said in a speech.

Hamas’s truce decision, conditioned on Israel withdrawing within a week, was “wise and responsible,” he said.

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

From Associated Press, Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post

Related:
CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/m
east/01/19/gaza.pullout.israel/index.html

 Gaza: Both Sides Claim “Victory” But All Looks Destroyed

Hamas declares victory in Gaza claiming it lost only 48 fighters

International Effort “Guarantees” Gaza Cease Fire

January 17, 2009

On Tuesday, Israel was already looking for a way to end the fighting in Gaza.

But Hamas was pledging to fight to the last drop of blood.

And Hamas was supported and emboldened by allies such as Iran, Hezbollah, Syria and thousands of of protesting and angry anti-Israeli people.

So a group in the international community made a pledge, in the form of a question, to Israel: If we can help you achieve your goals will you end the fighting?

Israel agreed.  And as of today, Israel, the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Italy and others are living up to that agreement.

Israel really needed two things: a halt to the rocket attacks into Israel and a way to assure that Hamas doesn’t rearm.

Today, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told reporters that France and Germany had joined Britain in a pledge to curtail the bloodshed in Gaza now, by offering long-term support in keeping Hamas from rearming.

 “The Israelis, Egyptians and Palestinian Authority know this offer is available,” he said. “I think this may make it easier for people to come to a cease-fire.”
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Brown said that if a cease-fire is reached, Britain has people ready to enter Gaza to provide humanitarian aid to help relieve the obvious suffering.

“Britain will not be found lacking in the support we can give,” he said.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office released a statement indicating that she, Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy had sent letters to Israeli and Egyptian leaders expressing a willingness to take a series of concrete measures to combat arms smuggling.

She said they all expressed support for “the efforts of the Israeli and Egyptian governments to reach a lasting cease-fire in Gaza.”

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi also joined in the offer of help, his office said Saturday.

European diplomats are part of a global push to calm the situation in Gaza, where more than 1,100 Palestinians and 13 Israelis have been killed since an Israeli offensive against Hamas terrorists began in late December.

Israel thought the U.S. so important to the international effort that prime Minister Ehud Olmert sent Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to Washington DC to sign an agreement with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The two-and-a-half page document outlines a framework under which the United States will provide military and intelligence assets, including detection and surveillance equipment, as well as logistical help and training to Israel, Egypt and other nations in the region. The equipment and training would be used for monitoring Gaza’s land and sea borders.

The document also calls for the U.S. to expand work with its NATO partners in the effort, particularly in the Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and eastern Africa, according to a text.

It also commits Washington to use relevant components of the U.S. military to assist Mideast governments in preventing weapons and explosives flows to Gaza that originate in or transit their territories.

“If this doesn’t satisfy the Israeli cabinet, what will?” a Western observer asked

Related from the Jerusalem Post:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1232
100167091&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2
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Related:
 Russia “Herding Squirrels” Iran, Syria, Hamas Toward Cease Fire