Egypt Independent: World-Main news en UN urges US, China, others to ratify nuclear test ban treaty <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>The United Nations Security Council urged China, the United States, North Korea, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel and Pakistan to ratify a treaty banning nuclear explosions, which would allow the deal negotiated 20 years ago to come into force.<br /><br />More than 160 countries have ratified the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Since then India, Pakistan and North Korea have conducted nuclear tests. This month Pyongyang conducted its fifth and largest test.<br /><br />The 15-member Security Council adopted a U.S.-drafted resolution on Friday with 14 votes in favor and an abstention by Egypt. It does not impose any legal obligations but adds political weight to the push for the treaty to be enacted.<br /><br />The U.N. resolution calls on all states to refrain from conducting any nuclear explosions.<br /><br />U.S. President Barack Obama&#39;s administration has said it would like to ratify the treaty, but a number of U.S. lawmakers, especially Republicans, oppose ratification of a pact they fear would limit U.S. security options.<br /><br />&quot;Our affirmative vote here is a sign of our unwavering commitment to a safer world in which nuclear technology is used solely for peaceful purposes and the risk of nuclear conflict is no more,&quot; U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.<br /><br />He said the resolution does not impose a legal prohibition on testing or require governments to adopt new reporting.<br /><br />&quot;But it does reinforce the core purposes and objectives of the CTBT itself: to diminish our reliance on nuclear devices, to reduce competition among nuclear powers, and to promote responsible disarmament,&quot; Kerry told the council.<br /><br />U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia said Moscow hoped the next president of the United States would be &quot;more strident in his desire to ratify it.&quot; The United States is due to elect a new president on Nov. 8. Obama will step down in January.<br /><br />Egypt&#39;s Hisham Badr, assistant foreign minister for multilateral affairs, described the resolution as &quot;substantively flawed and ill-suited to be addressed in the Security Council.&quot;<br /><br />&quot;Its contribution to the nuclear disarmament regime is minimal and ineffective. Rather than strengthening this regime, the resolution squanders the opportunity to emphasize the urgency to advance nuclear disarmament,&quot; he told the council.</p> Sat, 24 Sep 2016 08:09:00 +0000 Reuters 2472902 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/03/05/504802/nuclear_bomb.jpg Colombia's FARC rebels ratify peace accord to end 52-year war <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Colombia&#39;s FARC rebel group voted unanimously to approve a peace deal with the government on Friday, declaring an end to the five-decade war as it prepares to transition into a new political party.<br /><br />After four years of negotiations in Havana, the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia reached a final peace accord last month that will end a war that has left a quarter of a million people dead.<br /><br />&ldquo;Peace is the most beautiful of victories,&rdquo; rebel leader Rodrigo Londono, who uses the nom de guerre Timochenko, told a crowd of hundreds of FARC fighters at the close of the guerrillas&rsquo; congress on the southern Yari Plains.<br /><br />&ldquo;We yearn that no Colombians will ever again have to take up arms to make their voices heard and their demands felt, as has been required of us,&rdquo; Timochenko said to cheers and applause, as thunder roiled the sky overhead.<br /><br />As part of the agreement, the FARC will continue to push for social change as a political party, receiving 10 unelected seats in congress until 2026. FARC&#39;s leaders have been coy on policy details but are expected to morph the group into a party rooted in Marxist ideals.<br /><br />Another congress to officially found the party will be held no later than May 2017, FARC commander Ivan Marquez said at the ceremony.<br /><br />Two-hundred delegates from FARC units around the country gathered at the Yari site, five hours by rutted road from the nearest provincial town, to review the accord and discuss re-organization in peacetime.<br /><br />&quot;We inform the country and the government and the governments and people of the world that the rebel delegates of the congress have given unanimous backing to the final accord,&quot; Marquez said.<br /><br />The peace accord is due to be signed on Monday by President Juan Manuel Santos and Timochenko. Colombians will vote on the deal in an Oct. 2 plebiscite, the final go-ahead for rebels to demobilize. Polls show the accord will easily pass.<br /><br />The congress, the first ever open to media, marks the group&#39;s final meeting as a guerrilla army and will end with a music concert with non-FARC performers.<br /><br />Previous congresses, to decide battle strategy, were sometimes held via internet due to military offensives that prevented leaders from meeting.<br /><br />Although both leadership and rank-and-file fighters say they will prioritize political activism as civilians, the group has so far not provided examples of specific policies.<br /><br />&quot;Our initial platform is the implementation of the Havana accords,&quot; Pastor Alape, a member of the FARC&#39;s secretariat, told Reuters at the congress. &quot;Our political proposals will have to come from the suggestions of our base.<br /><br />&quot;We started our political efforts clandestinely and now we aspire, legally, to open our initiatives, together with all sectors of society, to concretely cultivate the political space we are given,&quot; Alape said.<br /><br />The five-point peace accord covers agricultural reform, an end to the illegal drugs trade, victims&#39; reparations, FARC political participation and demobilization.<br /><br />Policies are being drafted and will be revealed in due time, FARC commander Bertulfo Alvarez told a news conference during the congress, when asked by Reuters to give examples of policy initiatives.<br /><br />One mid-level rebel fighter said the group wants to decentralize Colombia&#39;s government, including halving the size of Congress, in a bid to combat corruption and ensure communities have control over distribution of royalties from oil and mining projects.<br /><br />The FARC may find an electoral foothold among poor farmers and committed leftists, but many Colombians are worried that ex-fighters will join criminal gangs.</p> Sat, 24 Sep 2016 07:42:00 +0000 Reuters 2472900 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/09/24/504802/farc_commander.jpg Clashes in central Congo kill at least 13 <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>At least 13 people have died in two days of clashes in a city in central Democratic Republic of Congo that pitted security forces against militia fighters seeking to avenge the death of their leader, witnesses and local media said on Friday.<br /><br />Fighters loyal to a traditional chief named Kamwina Nsapu, who was killed in a clash with police last month, first entered the city of Kananga on Thursday morning.<br /><br />Eight militia members were killed by security forces before the group fled, according to national broadcaster Radio Okapi. Three schoolchildren were trampled to death, and one unidentified man also died.<br /><br />Fighters returned again on Friday and attacked the city&#39;s airport, killing a worker for a local airline, one witness said.<br /><br />&quot;From 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. there was heavy fighting with small arms and heavy weapons,&quot; said Killy Ilunga, who saw the body of the dead flight attendant. &quot;They burst into the hall of the airport. One of them beat her with a club.&quot;<br /><br />Another town resident said he saw the bodies of several militia members at the airport.<br /><br />&quot;The situation is under our control. The airport has been under the control of our forces since this afternoon,&quot; said government spokesman Lambert Mende. &quot;We don&#39;t have a death toll at the moment. But yes, there were deaths.&quot;<br /><br />Kamwina Nsapu vowed three months ago to rid his home province of Kasai-Central of all state security forces, accusing them of abusing the local population.<br /><br />The conflict between the local authorities and his fighters, who are often armed with little more than clubs and magic amulets, has erupted into deadly violence on several occasions.<br />&nbsp;</p> Sat, 24 Sep 2016 07:29:00 +0000 Reuters 2472898 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/09/21/504802/congo_police.jpg Russia and Pakistan to hold first joint military exercise <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Former Cold War-era rivals Pakistan and Russia are due to hold their first ever military exercise this month, Pakistan&#39;s military said on Friday, in another sign of shifting alliances in South Asia.<br /><br />During the Cold War, Pakistan spent a decade helping the United States funnel arms and fighters into neighboring Afghanistan to help Islamist insurgent groups fight Soviet soldiers following their 1979 invasion of Afghanistan.<br /><br />At the time, the communist Soviet Union was closely aligned with Pakistan&#39;s arch-enemy India, while the United States was a staunch supporter of Pakistan.<br /><br />Pakistan&#39;s top military spokesman, Lieutenant General Asim Bajwa, said a &quot;contingent of Russian ground forces&quot; arrived in Pakistan for a two-week exercise beginning on Saturday.<br /><br />About 200 military personnel from both sides would be involved in the exercises, Pakistan&#39;s Tribune Express newspaper said, citing military sources.<br /><br />Pakistani media last year reported Islamabad had bought four Mi-35 attack helicopters from Russia in a first military deal of its kind between them.<br /><br />While ties between Russia and Pakistan are growing closer, Pakistan&#39;s relations with the United States have cooled. Washington accused Islamabad of harboring Afghan Taliban fighters, something that Pakistan denies.<br /><br />The United States has also improved ties with India, which Pakistan views warily.<br /><br />Pakistan&#39;s relations with its steadfast, &quot;all-weather&quot; ally China have developed over the past year or so with a plan for $46 billion in Chinese investment in a road and rail energy corridor linking western China with Pakistan&#39;s Arabian Sea coast.<br />&nbsp;</p> Fri, 23 Sep 2016 10:57:00 +0000 Reuters 2472879 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/09/23/504802/pakistan.jpg